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Rafael Nadal 'could have retired in 2005' due to injury, says uncle and former coach Toni

Toni Nadal says Rafa could have retired in 2005 if not for his 'ability to endure great suffering.'
Rafael Nadal celebrates at US Open

Rafael Nadal has ‘an ability to endure suffering,’ says uncle Toni, who has backed his decision to withdraw from Wimbledon.

Nadal opted to bow out after his quarterfinal win over Taylor Fritz, during which he appeared to aggravate an abdomen injury.

Scans later showed a 7mm tear, and after a short spell on the Wimbledon practice courts testing his serve, Rafael Nadal made the decision to withdraw.

He could have continued, as Novak Djokovic did with a similar injury at the 2021 Australian Open. The Serbian won that tournament against all the odds.

Toni Nadal, though, believes Rafa made the sensible decision for his career.

"The reality of my nephew, indeed, has been the one that I reminded my brother once when he told me that we rushed too many times: If it hadn't been like that, Rafael would have lifted half of the Grand Slams he has," he told El Pais.

"He, of course, will not put his health at risk, as he has stated lately, but the fact is that he combines a set of characteristics that allow him to make the most of his worst circumstances."

Rafael Nadal has been managing a degenerative foot problem called Muller-Weiss syndrome for most of his career after it was diagnosed in 2005.

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It is something that has bothered him more than ever recently, but Toni believes the fact he was won so much with the condition shows what his nephew is made of.

"First of all, he has an ability to endure suffering and to overcome extraordinary difficulty," Toni said.

"Already in 2005 he had to accept and internalize the pain in order to continue with his sports career. If we had given credit to the seriousness of his congenital injury, he would have retired in those early days and would not have even lifted the 2006 Roland Garros.

"Second, even in seemingly untenable situations, he almost always retains unshakable faith in himself."

"He tends to take every opportunity he has available to him and grasp at straws. If he goes well, he wins the match, and if not, he leaves with the peace of mind that he won't be able to attribute the defeat to his own resignation."

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