21-time Grand Slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal admits he doesn't know how long he "can keep going", after he limped out of the Italian Open.
The first set was typical Nadal - quick, aggressive from the backcourt and dominant in every metric.
The remaining sets were anything but this.
An obvious limp between points and visibly grimacing between changeovers, Nadal was every bit the gladiator on his shield.
The moment when Rafa Nadal's 22nd title in Paris hopes vanished...
(? @tennistv) pic.twitter.com/oaBLqq6uYe
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) May 13, 2022
His opponent, Denis Shapovalov, has the tools to bother Nadal on a good day, let alone in these circumstances.
But this was far from the all-dominating Nadal, with his chronic left foot problem, known as Müller-Weiss disease, resurfacing on his favorite surface.
Shapovalov progressing to the quarter-finals without breaking much of a final-set sweat.
Shapovalov solves the Rafa riddle ?
He stuns Nadal 1-6 7-5 6-2 to reach the Rome QFs!@denis_shapo | @InteBNLdItalia | #IBI22 pic.twitter.com/WaWhUn70ko
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 12, 2022
Speaking in the aftermath, an unusually downtrodden Nadal spoke very pensively.
"I imagine there will come a time when my head will say ‘enough," he said.
"Pain takes away your happiness, not only in tennis but in life.
"My problem is that many days I live with too much pain."
Nadal went on to describe his recurring foot injury an "unbearable" in the match, but insists he'll be fit for the French Open.
Get well soon and hope to see you in Paris, @RafaelNadal ?#IBI22 pic.twitter.com/1eSNnrAwCU
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 12, 2022