Despite the fact that Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal is only 26 years old, there have been serious questions about how long he can play on the knees that have given him so much trouble so early in his career.
If the sport’s biggest name can be patient and take the time to get back to 100 percent health after suffering from tendinitis in his knee, there is no question that he can return to dominance.
While there was a time in Nadal's career when he would have tried to play through the pain, he has done some maturing over the last two years. With the willingness to sit out until completely healthy, the Spaniard has reaffirmed his commitment to the game.
Nadal still has the chance to be the greatest player of all time, but he needs to get healthy and stay healthy to achieve those lofty goals.
Nadal admitted to the Associated Press (via Washington Post) that he still has a long road ahead of him and that there is no timetable for a return:
All that is in my mind is to keep working hard to come back. I cannot think about the future because it’s not like if you break your arm and you know you will have a few weeks like this, then a few weeks like that and then you are back. This is a day-by-day thing. I have checks every day to see how I’m improving. I can’t predict what will happen.
While there will never be a way for Nadal to please everyone, the polarizing star is doing what is right for his career.
If he wants another chance at being the most dominant player in the world, like most experts know he can be, then he must get healthy and stay that way.
It is clear that Roger Federer is playing well, but the 31-year-old is close to the end of his tennis career. With at least another four years of action left for Nadal if he avoids injury, matching Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles is still very possible.
Nadal knows this, and he wants to get healthy now for his full-on attack on the record books when he returns. With 11 Grand Slam wins of his own, there is little doubt that Nadal has the talent to win six or more over the next five years.
The champion must stay healthy, however, that's easier said than done.
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