Rafael Nadal Right to Put Health First by Ending 2014 Season

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 26, 2014

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Feliciano Lopez of Spain during their men's singles second round match at the Shanghai Masters Tennis Tournament in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Vincent Thian/Associated Press

Rafael Nadal announced on Friday that he will end his 2014 season early in order to treat a back injury and appendicitis which have affected his form over recent weeks.

Per the Telegraph's tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, Nadal said: "I'm not going to play Paris and London, I'm not enough competitive. I'm going to have the surgery the 3rd of November. I will have treatment on my back next week, that needs a few days."

It is a major blow for the end of year ATP Tour Finals for whom Nadal was set to be one of the star attractions and, indeed, for the Spaniard who has missed the event in two of the past three years.

However, Nadal is making a sensible choice which perhaps should have been made earlier in dealing with the appendix concern that has troubled him over recent weeks.

Since being defeated by Martin Klizan in Beijing after the concern first flared up, Nadal was eliminated in his first encounter the following week in Shanghai against compatriot Feliciano Lopez before bowing out this week in Basel at the quarterfinal stage.

While that result may be unremarkable in itself, his 6-2, 7-6 defeat came at the hands of the admittedly very talented 17-year-old Borna Coric. It was following his exit in Switzerland that Nadal announced his decision.

Coric was too good for a below-par Nadal in Basel
Coric was too good for a below-par Nadal in BaselDarron Cummings/Associated Press

Nadal has endured a difficult year in spite of his incredible ninth triumph at the French Open in April. As Reuters' Martyn Herman reports, his back troubled him in the final of the Australian Open, while he missed three months after Wimbledon with a wrist injury.

Nadal has battled back from a number of injuries, but there was no way he could keep playing for another three weeks taking antibiotics to control his appendicitis issues. It is frankly incredible that he has managed to even compete whilst troubled by the ailment.

Doubts will continue to circle about the 28-year-old's overall condition given his now-repeated injury absences. His body is feeling the strain of the rigours of the past decade and his incredibly physical style, but he does always seem to find a way back to the top. He must, though, put his health first if he is to extend his career.

Nadal was runner up in London last year
Nadal was runner up in London last yearClive Brunskill/Getty Images

Nadal will have two months following his appendix surgery to prepare for the 2015 season beginning in Doha in January. Missing the World Tour Finals is a blow but the priority has to be ensuring that he is fully fit for next year's tour campaign.

It is almost three weeks since it was first revealed that Nadal was suffering from appendix problems in Shanghai and it is remarkable he has continued playing so long, with appendicitis normally requiring immediate surgery.

Nadal, though, admits, per Herman's report, that he has been unable to remain competitive at the top level while dealing with his medical concerns. There is, then, very little point in even attempting to continue playing until the issue is fully resolved.

The Spaniard now seems to have accepted the need for surgery, having seen his results impacted as a consequence. He should have been advised to put his health first earlier, but he has now made the right decision to prioritise his long-term fitness over short-term gains.