Torrid season over as Nadal opts for surgery

Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:45pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal's announcement on Friday that he will miss the ATP World Tour Finals because of appendicitis ended a difficult year for the Spaniard during which he has endured injury, illness and worrying defeats.

The 28-year-old's ninth French Open crown in June stands out like a beacon in the gloom as for most of the season Nadal has looked like a mere mortal, far from the force of nature that collected 14 grand slam titles.

On Friday he was crushed by Croatian teenager Borna Coric at the Swiss Indoor event in Basel, losing the first five games before offering some instinctive resistance in a 6-2 7-6 (4) reverse.

Lacking power and timing, hardly surprising considering he has been on antibiotics in a forlorn bid to delay surgery until after the World Tour Finals next month, Nadal's performance made uncomfortable viewing for his legion of fans.

A few minutes later he made the decision most had been expecting by withdrawing from the season-ending showpiece in London having already pulled out of next week's Paris Masters.

Nadal said he would have his grumbling appendix removed on Nov. 3 before spending two months training hard for a return at the Qatar Open in Doha on Jan. 5 -- a tournament he won this year before his body started creaking.

After a career spent fighting ferocious on-court battles against some of the best players ever to wield rackets, question marks will accompany the Mallorcan's latest comeback mission, although at least this time it is not his suspect knees that are under the microscope.

A player who relies so much on his extraordinary movement and physical powers, not to mention his warrior spirit, can ill afford to be less than 100 percent, as this year has proved.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning his match against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the Swiss Indoors ATP tennis tournament in Basel October 22, 2014.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann