The US Open is off and running, and as exciting a time as this is, you can’t help but notice the vast void or vacuum left by one vacated Rafael Nadal. Apparently at home in Majorca resting his tender right wrist, this marks yet another occasion when an injured Rafa is unable to defend a major trophy. Every year added to his ATP career is that much more wear and tear on his body, and so you begin to wonder how many more times he will be able to storm back from an injury timeout to win 10 or so titles and claim number one again. His age says he is still in his prime, but Rafa became dominant on clay and competitive on the other surfaces so early in his professional career that his frame has endured a lot more miles than average. If he were a used car, you might think twice or thrice before buying. He has simply played a lot of tennis and played it with unrivaled physical intensity. But the amazing thing about Rafa up till now is his ability to work his way back to the top of a very talented field, and do it with authority. Not to diminish the autumn ATP schedule, but Rafa will no doubt utilize the fall to revitalize and prepare to scale the mountain of Melbourne in January and avenge his final loss there 7 months ago. Can he do it yet again? I for one wouldn’t put it past him! We shall see though in time, a resource that eventually runs out for even the most resilient of pros. But time is something Rafa seems to engage realistically and with tempered aggression. Whatever the nature of the comeback this next time, it will be fascinating to follow.
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