The rumour mill is working overtime again today and it is focusing on world number one Rafael Nadal, saying that after the Spaniard underwent medical tests in Melbourne that he has been diagnosed with a 2cm tear in his left hamstring and that he intends to take only two weeks off. While none of these statements have been confirmed by Nadal’s team, and his participation in Spain’s Davis Cup tie with Belgium has not been locked in either, I am amazed that he’s even thinking about returning after two weeks off.
I know Nadal is a beast. We’ve seen him play with only raw skin on his feet, sliding and sprinting with apparent ease when other people would be lying down with their feet resting on pillows, struggling to walk short distances around the house – but this is crazy. If he really does have a 2cm tear I’m impressed that he had the resolve and strength to enable him to continue playing against Ferrer as much as he did – truly amazed.
I’ve had patients (granted they’re not of the same caliber of athlete) with smaller or similar sized tears be unable to continue the activity that caused the tear with extensive bruising and swelling. If it’s only a small tear, usually they’re ready to go again in 2-3 weeks with precautions but a 2cm tear really should buy Nadal a minimum of 3 weeks off.
In an ideal world Rafa should have 4 weeks off to let his body recovery fully from the virus that plagued him in Australia and will have made him more susceptible to injury. He needs to recover fully if he wants his season to be unaffected. The problem with hamstring tears is that if you don’t fully rehabilitate it they tend to happen again and can become a chronic problem.
Nadal strained the same hamstring before Wimbledon last year and recovered well but if it is torn this time he needs to actually rest. Let’s hope Rafael Maymo takes good care of him because Nadal’s about to attempt to defend a huge amount of points from winning Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid and the French Open – and that’s only on the clay courts where he’s going to need strong legs!