Rafael’s Nadal’s long-term doctor Angel-Ruiz Cotorro will make a statement on Wednesday (it was originally Tuesday but has been put back a day) about the state of the Spaniard’s knees and it is fully expected that the 11-times grand slam champion will miss the rest of the season in order to make sure he fully recovers before putting himself back through the rigours of the Tour.
It is a shame for fans and the Tour as a whole for Nadal’s presence is so infectious that he is always missed when he is not around. Wimbledon was a strange place to be in the first few days after his second-round defeat by Lukas Rosol and the Olympics and the US Open have been different without him in the draw. That’s not to say they are not as good but someone with as great a game and as strong a personality as Nadal is always going to be missed.
A statement on Monday said Nadal will not play in the next two months, which means he would be out until November, which would rule him out of all the rest of the ATP Tour, barring, perhaps, the ATP World Tour Finals. Nadal has already qualified for the eight-man season-ending event but it would be asking an awful lot for him to make that his first event back. The world No 3 has spoken often about how he needs to play a lot to feel good so putting himself back into the fray in so high profile an event would be a big risk to his confidence.
Missing the rest of the season, though, will be expensive both in terms of money and ranking points. Unless he plays in both the remaining Masters 1000 events, in Shanghai and Paris, the 26-year-old will forego his share of the bonus pool. If he had ended the year ranked No 3, as he is now, it would have been $625,000; if he was No 2, it would have been $1 million and if he was No 1, he would have earned $2 million. As it is, unless he plays both Masters 1000s, he will get no bonus at all.
Including his US Open points, Nadal will lose around 1700 points, which will take his total down to around the 7,000 mark. Unless he has fitness issues of his own, Andy Murray would overtake him, but the gap between No 4 and David Ferrer at No 5 is big enough that it would take something extraordinary for him to fall any further.
Of course, Nadal’s health is the most important thing and everyone connected with the sport will hope he comes back fully fit, even if it’s not until next year. You can bet that Nadal will have done the calculations in terms of ranking points and while he won’t be happy with being down at No 4, winning grand slams in 2013, if he is able to do that, will take care of the ranking. In practice, there is no difference between No 3 and No 4 – they are always in opposite halves and always get one of the top two in the semi-finals.
Hard courts and indoor hard courts in particular are rough for Nadal’s knees and given that the Australian Open opens the year, it is not inconceivable that he could even miss that and start on clay, even in South America in February. But he plays well on the high-bouncing courts in Melbourne so he’ll surely aim for that.