Friday, March 05, 2010 9:25 am
ANATOMY OF A CHAMPION
With top athletic form and solid family values, Rafael Nadal will fight to reclaim his throne.
By Marta Montenegro; Photography by Dania Graibe
When you consider Rafael Nadal’s impressive physique, it’s hard to picture him at a standstill sidelined by injuries. But that’s what he has been facing, battling ailments (first the knee, later in his abdominal muscles, and now the knee again) that affected his performance while he was trying to defend his most recent grand slam titles. So how do you bring a gladiator back to his top physical form?
“Indoor physical work is as vital to achieve balance and compensation as all the effort you put on court during matches, since elite-level athletes tend to push their bodies to the limit,” Nadal says. “During the rehab process, I relied on the pool and the elliptical trainer for most of my cardio work, and chose pulleys for weight training, since they allowed me to focus not just on the concentric part of the move but also in the eccentric component that is vital in tennis.”
While Rafa knows the nature of his injuries and how much they affected him during the latest tour, he still considers them more manageable than the ones he suffered back in 2005, when a persistent foot support lesion stopped his meteoric ascent in the rankings. Rafa still refers to those days of uncertainty as his roughest time as a pro tennis player.
In contrast, his current situation finds him mentally prepared to deal with adversity, so he’s confident about the eventual return to top form. Instead of dwelling on his lack of playing time, Rafa has learned to take the rehabilitation process as a chance to improve his game, putting extra effort on fine-tuning his serve and developing a more efficient attack strategy at the net.