Nadal hopes to be ready in November to start his farewell tour in 2024: “We are very happy”.

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PARIS – Carlos Alcaraz was playing in the central stadium at Roland Garros when a picture of a smiling Rafael Nadal, lying in a hospital bed, reached the mobile phones of journalists in Paris. And Nadal turned 37 years old on Saturday when his doctor, Angel Ruiz Cotorro, said what so many wanted to hear: “We are very happy”.

The former world number one underwent surgery on the night of Friday 2 June in Barcelona on the injury to the left psoas tendon, a muscle that attaches to the hip. Just hours before that birthday he had celebrated almost without exception at Roland Garros for the past 19 years, en route to one of his 14 titles on French clay.

“The surgery went very well. When you do what you want to do, it goes well. An arthroscopy was done to check the tendon, to see how it was, how the injury had evolved, and a revision of the whole tendon was done. There was fibrotic tissue, which is quite common, and at the same time a quite degenerated part. What was done was to clean that up as well. And we did a suture to reinforce the tendon a little bit, because where it hooks there was some degenerated tissue, the typical chronic tendinitis. What we did was to clean it and reinforce it. And then we also fixed a problem with the labrum, which creates a bit of instability and makes the tendon not work properly,” explained Ruiz Cotorro, the doctor who has accompanied the Spaniard throughout his career.

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“We have tried all the options of conservative treatment, which is how these injuries are treated,” added the doctor. That is to say: not to operate, an option that failed.

“And in the end it was decided to opt for surgery by Dr Marc Philippon, who is a bit like the Pope of hip arthroscopy in the world”.

Nadal will be able to face that farewell tour that was proposed when, on May 18, announced that he would not play more for the rest of the year.

“It has been difficult for me to have continuity in all senses because of the physical that has been chaining injury after injury,” said Nadal during that press conference in Mallorca. “That, when you can’t do things happily, is also transferred to the personal field. They have been complicated years. You have to put a full stop,” explained the Spaniard, opening up the real possibility that he might not play again.

“I don’t deserve to finish like this”, he added.

Two weeks later, Ruiz Cotorro says no, that November is the month in which Nadal should already be able to train fully.

“We are very happy, if we respect the biological times we will be able to get him back on his feet. The rush in these things are never good companions. In principle we are talking about five months, because you can never be sure. We’re not rushing either, because the season will already be over. It’s important to have goals as a stimulus.

“We’re talking about the middle or end of November,” the doctor said, which would allow Nadal to start the 2024 season, his farewell season, with the Australian Open.

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Was there no other day to operate than the day before his birthday? Ruiz Cotorro laughed: “Things depend on him, his circumstances, his team. It wasn’t the day of his birthday, it was the day before.”

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