Watching Rafa’s Return

When Rafael Nadal arrived in Chile to play his first match in seven months he was training without tape on his knees – tape that has been largely absent for the last few years.

His training session on Sunday was a different story. Not only was Rafa wearing his old faithful tape for patella tendinitis but he appeared to have a small patch underneath the tendon – something that he has rarely been seen with.

It wouldn’t make any sense for someone with Hoffa’s Syndrome to wear the patch to add compression to the knee, and it doesn’t look like the plasters he normally wears after an injection in the knee so what the significance of the pad is remains to be seen.

It is possible that the tape has been applied purely to keep an anti inflammatory patch or potentially a mini ice pack along the tendon.

To be fair to Rafa his confidence in his knee’s ability to hold up to proper match play is being tested after seven long months and if the tape gives him even a little bit of mental comfort then so be it. There doesn’t seem to be any other current indicators that suggest something is wrong.

What Rafa fans need to remember, as hard as it is to stomach, Rafa is unlikely to ever play with consistently pain free knees. Not only have they copped such a significant battering over the years but they have also been effected by a bone in his foot that never fully formed properly and impacts on his ability to load optimally through the leg.

All we can hope for is that his knees don’t rob us of Rafa’s presence on the tour prematurely and that he is sensible in how he manages them from now on.

“The motivation, the illusion is big, so very happy to be back in the competition but just you know, with patience to know how the knee will answer after a long time without the top level. The most important thing for me is the knee, that I can support the pain of the knee and then if I am able to play these three tournaments in a row I think it will work very well for me because I will have three important weeks to prepare for the rest of the season.

I know that the first three tournaments are going to be difficult in terms of results but I am going to try everything. I will need a few weeks to see how things improve.”

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