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Rafael Nadal © Gallo Images

'Nadal must adapt to prolong his career'

Rafa Nadal will have to learn how to listen to his body if he is to dominate the world of tennis like Roger Federer, his knee doctor said on Friday.

The 24-year-old Spaniard added the US Open to his list of Australian, French and Wimbledon crowns earlier this month, only the seventh person to have won all four grand slams.

This still left him seven major titles short of Federer's record haul of 16 and doubts linger over whether Nadal's knees will allow him to compete at the same level for that long.

"He has to learn how to take care of himself to be able to carry on for many years," surgeon Mikel Sanchez told Spanish sports daily Marca.

The world number one turned to the orthopaedic specialist after the Australian Open last year, when he suffered nagging pain.

"It was incredible he was able to keep on playing with his knees the way they were," Sanchez said.

The doctor treated Nadal's knees with a series of enriched plasma injections to help rebuild his tendons, and he skipped the whole grasscourt season to rest and recover.

"He isn't going to change the way he plays, nor is he going to miss games so he doesn't injure himself," Sanchez added.

"He's going to continue at the same rhythm and there is a risk that his tendons will degenerate again. It could occur in other tendons such as the Achilles.

"He subjects his tendons to violent stress because he trains a lot. He puts in a lot of hours, plays a lot of games and always at 100 percent.

"If the body isn't able to regenerate what it has damaged, injuries occur. The more aggressive you are, the more you leap, the heavier the musculature you carry, which he does, the more injuries you will have."

Sanchez had to convince Nadal not to compete in Barcelona earlier this year in order to help his treatment, and said this was the type of decision he would have to take on his own in the future.

"He has to understand that the older he gets the more he has to establish some kind of balance," Sanchez said. "He can't try to win every tournament he plays over the next 10 years."


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