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Nadal surprised by trainer's comments

Rafael Nadal, world No.2, was surprised by comments from his uncle and coach Toni, who called a recurring foot injury "very serious".

sports Updated: Nov 29, 2007 17:14 IST

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, world No.2, was surprised by comments from his uncle and coach Toni, who called a recurring foot injury "very serious".

"Rafa is surprised," a spokesperson for Nadal said.

Rafael's surprise was provoked by Wednesday's edition of the Spanish daily Diario de Mallorca, in which his uncle said the injury is not only "very serious", but replied with a cryptic "it is a little more than that" to the question of whether the tennis player can run.

"The story that has come out is totally false," Rafael himself told Spanish television.

He did not say whether the lie came from his uncle, the interviewer, or both.

"Everything that I wrote is true and it was recorded," said the journalist who had interviewed his uncle, Toni.

Injuries have been a recurring problem in the 21-year-old Rafa's career.

The mentally tough player's body is suffering from the strain of the circuit.

His most serious injury happened in November 2005, when he declined to play at the Shanghai Masters over foot pain. That was the trouble that his uncle referred to, and he also mentioned knee problems that affected Nadal this year.

The interview with Toni reflected this worry, mentioning "the foot injury that affects him since 2005".

"Can it be healed?" the journalist asks.

"He has to learn to live with that injury, and he has lived with it for two years already," Toni said.

When the interviewer asks whether it is serious, Rafael's trainer says yes, and at first declines to say to what extent.

"It is very serious," he finally says.

The interviewer inquires whether it is true that the tennis player "cannot run".

"It is a little more than that," comes the astonishing reply.

The issue of running refers to a recent interview by Rafael with the Spanish daily El Pais, in which the player admitted that following his 2005 injury he rows, cycles and uses other gym equipment, but he avoids running, because his body will not stand it.

Fresh from a week's holiday in Egypt with his parents and his four grandparents, Rafael spoke in an attempt to curb the effect of his uncle's comments.

"The injury has not stopped me, it has not prevented me from competing at the highest possible level in the past two years," Rafael noted.

"Rafa's career is not at risk. In fact, this has been his best year," the player's spokesman said.

Right foot problems led Rafael to decline to play for Spain in a Davis Cup tie against the United States in April, which the Americans won. In the Wimbledon final and in Stuttgart he had knee problems that are chronic.

Beyond the disagreements with his uncle - who has coached him since he was a boy and with whom Rafael always said he would remain throughout his career - the world number 2 will have to prepare conscientiously for the 2008 season.

With the Davis Cup and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, it can be the toughest of his career so far.

Nadal plays down gravity of knee injury

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal insisted on Thursday that a left foot injury which makes it difficult for him to run has not affected his game.

The world number two was responding to reports quoting his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, that the injury could affect his future career.

"It's very serious," Toni Nadal told a Spanish daily.

"I don't know if it's career-threatening. I'll let the doctor reply to that. Rafa has to take a lot of precautions when he plays."

But the 21-year-old Nadal said Thursday that the injury has not prevented him from playing his best.

"(It) has not prevented me from being number two in the world and playing at the highest level for the past two years," Nadal told Spanish television.

But he admitted that he had to change his training to deal with the problem.

"We've changed training over the past two years and we can't train with the same intensity as before," explained Nadal, who won six titles in 2007, including a third French Open crown.

According to Spanish media, sportswear firm Nike have designed shoes specially to allow Nadal to continue to play comfortably despite the inflammation which makes it difficult for him to run.