Mystery surrounds Rafael Nadal’s schedule for the rest of 2014 as he continues to postpone going under the knife to address his appendicitis. The problem emerged ahead of the Shanghai Masters last week, when the 14-time Grand Slam champion surprisingly revealed that rather than remove his appendix immediately he would try to continue on for the rest of the season while managing the situation with antibiotics. But, having lost in his opening match in the Chinese city to Feliciano Lopez, speculation has suggested that he will be forced to have surgery ahead of the prestigious ATP World Tour finals in November.
It is expected that an operation will require Nadal to have three to four weeks of rest, explaining why he is so keen to finish off his schedule for 2014 before recuperating during the off-season. Nadal is scheduled to play in Basel next week before competing in the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the year in Paris and then onto the glamorous season finale in London.
“I'm fine; I’ve been on antibiotics for a couple of days,” Nadal said before flying to Basel, reports Spanish sports daily Marca. “I know it’ll be a tough tournament without training a lot, but I’ll do my best.”
Marca is, however, of the opinion that the Spaniard has already ruled out playing in London, seemingly based on comments from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal. “We will go to Basel and then see what happens,” he said. “It's a matter of knowing when to operate, whether before or after Paris.”
Those reports in his homeland have since been clarified by Nadal’s spokesperson Benito Pérez-Barbadillo, who insists that no decisions have yet been taken. “Rafa Nadal will play Basel this upcoming week and, depending on how he feels and the advice from his doctors, will decide after the tournament on his schedule,” he said, per The Guardian.
Nadal will be particularly eager to avoid missing the end of the season, having only just returned from a wrist injury that forced him out of action from Wimbledon until the China Open in Beijing late last month, when he was ousted in the quarterfinals by Martin Klizan. His loss in Shanghai the following week, coupled with Roger Federer taking the title saw the Swiss great move above Nadal into second spot in the ATP rankings. Nadal has significant ranking points to defend, too, in both Paris and London, where he reached the semifinals and final, respectively last year.
But as much as the 28-year-old will want to finish an injury-interrupted year on a high, getting a proper off-season and starting 2015 at full throttle will also be foremost in his mind. The year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, will get underway on January 19, while Nadal’s season is set to begin on New Year’s Day at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, a lucrative exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. The event organizers have confirmed this week that they are still expecting Nadal to be present.
“The latest [with Nadal] is that we’re in touch with his team on a regular basis,” Greg Sproule, the Middle East head of IMG, which organizes the tournament, said, reports Abu Dhabi publication The National. “He just played in China and that means he is back and playing, which is great news. We’re in touch with his manager Carlos Costa, who has said he is coming to Abu Dhabi.
“We have to rely on what he is saying and we pressed him quite hard in terms of is he coming, and he said yes and said put me down and quote me that he is coming. So that is the strongest endorsement we can get. The fact that he has just played in China is fantastic news.”