9/26/12 8:48 PM | Johan Lindahl
Rafael Nadal has been pondering what might have been had it not been for a knee injury which continues to keep him from tennis as the 2012 season enters its final phase.
The one-time world No. 1, who now stands fourth after not playing for three months, said that dealing with the tear in his tendon has been one of the biggest tests of his career.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old Spaniard holds out hope. "I hope you see me in Australia, that is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen," he told London's Daily Mail.
Nadal has said he will not prepare for a return until he is fully healed and he is totally unsure of any recovery date. He is now looking back at some of his 2012 season decision with perhaps some regret.
"Was it a mistake to play at Wimbledon? Maybe, but when you are playing well it is hard to stop. At Roland Garros (where he won a seventh title) I had to play with anti-inflammatories to get through. After that I felt really bad.
"My practice before Wimbledon was terrible. I played the first round with injections, otherwise it would have been impossible. That doesn’t help the knee. I’ve played a lot in pain before as other people have done. The problem is when you run and you are thinking about where you are planting your leg. It is impossible to compete like that."
Nadal, who had been tapped to carry the flag for Spain in the London Olympic opening ceremony, said that missing the Games was a huge blow. "For me the Olympics was very tough. I was very, very sad for three weeks around then. Missing the US Open was hard but you think you will have more chances.
"The Olympics is once every four years and you don’t know how many more you will get. I will work very hard to be in Rio but it is in four years. I am 26-and-a-half, I love competition, playing tennis, and this was actually a season I enjoyed playing more than others. I have the motivation to come back and that’s what I’m going to try."
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