How Nadal Won Grand Slam When He 'Couldn't Even Walk' And 'Was On Crutches'

How Nadal Won Grand Slam When He 'Couldn't Even Walk' And 'Was On Crutches'

by Zachary Wimer

Rafael Nadal's most recent Roland Garros triumph came while he was playing on a numb foot, something Casper Ruud recently remembered.

Ruud has played in two Roland Garros finals. He took on Novak Djokovic in last year's final and lost convincingly, which happened the first time around, too. That was in 2022 when Nadal won the event by beating the Norwegian in the final.

What's particularly striking about that final is that Nadal was badly injured for much of it. He was dealing with his chronic foot issue, which caused him immense pain. To be able to play the match, Nadal took numbing injections before every match so that he could simply play.

He actually played the whole event without feeling his foot at all. That's incredible, and Ruud recounted it during a dinner talk with Alex de Minaur and Dominic Thiem at one of the UTS events.

"Well, I played when he couldn't even walk on his foot. He had local anesthesia. That was crazy. I actually met him the day after, and he was on crutches. He couldn't walk. Even though I lost badly, I was actually thinking the night before that maybe he's so hurt that he can't even walk."

Ruud believed that the injury might help him because everybody knew that Nadal was injured. He admitted to feeling troubled by his foot but kept fighting through. Ruud also recounted the infamous match between Nadal and Alexander Zverev, which was about to become legendary until the German suffered a career-changing injury.

"If maybe there is one year where someone can surprise it might be this one because everyone knew he was injured. I mean he beat everyone along the way. He was, I'm not gonna say fortunate, but he had a really tough match against Zverev. They played 3 hours and they didn't finish the second match. If that was a bit long, who knows?"

In the end, Nadal won it and that was the last Grand Slam he won. It might be the last one he ever won and if that's the case, it would be an iconic way to close that chapter.


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