We may not have seen Rafa Nadal on the tennis court for months, but the 20-time grand slam champion is still managing to generate headlines.
Even if they are bizarre ones.
The 35-year-old hasn’t played since losing in the second round in Washington in early August and won’t step foot on the court again this year.
Nadal skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after suffering a foot injury in the French Open final against Novak Djokovic in June.
He then re-injured the foot in Washington and was forced to miss the US Open before deciding to sit out the rest of the 2021 season to recover properly.
But the Spanish great is still managing to capture the attention of fans, with many believing Nadal might have made a key addition to his hair.
The ageing veteran seems to sporting less and less hair on the top of his head every time we seen him, but in a recent appearance at his academy in Mallorca he was spotted with a noticeably fuller head of hair.
Fans flocked to social media convinced that Nadal was wearing a wig, with many pointing out that there was two distinctly different tones of colour in his hair.
Others suggested it was just a trick of the light.
Nevertheless, the bizarre look certainly sent social media into a frenzy.
Rafa Nadal ready for ‘difficult’ recovery from foot injury
Nadal admitted last week that he faces a “difficult” and “painful” recovery from the foot injury.
The 35-year-old said he is “looking forward to improving and facing a process that will be difficult in some ways and painful in others but that I have to go through to fight for what I want again.”
Nadal published a photo of himself on Instagram holding crutches with his left foot bandaged.
He announced he had been in Barcelona “to receive treatment on my foot that will require a few days rest and a few weeks off the court.”
The Spaniard holds the joint record for grand slam titles in the men’s game, tied on 20 with both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who lost in the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev.
“Over the years, things get more and more complicated because you have to be realistic, time doesn’t stop for anyone, but I am still excited,” Nadal added.
Fans are holding out hope that Nadal will be back in action at the Australian Open in January.
“It is a year that I have missed things that matter a lot to me, such as Wimbledon, such as the Olympics, how the United States Open is going to be now, (and) many other events that are also important to me,” he said in August.
“In view of the fact that during the latter year I have not had the ability to train and prepare and compete in the way that I really like to… I came to the conclusion that what I need is time to recover.
“I am (determined) to do whatever it takes to regain the best possible shape, to continue competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I have done during all these years.
“I am convinced that with the recovery of the foot and obviously a very important daily effort this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen.”
Queen ‘disappointed’ with Meghan Markle, Harry over christening move
Queen Elizabeth is reportedly ‘disappointed’ over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to christen Lilibet within the US and a former butler believes she’ll be heartbroken to miss such a special event.
Some former staffers even fear she’ll be utterly heartbroken if she is not able to participate in the grand event.
The Firm’s former royal butler Grant Harrold made this claim during his interview with Express.
There he speculated upon the possible plan of action Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may take regarding the christening, for the Queen, and claimed, “I am sure if this does not take place in the UK, the Queen will be disappointed to not attend the christening of her great-granddaughter.”
He also went on to add, “However, as with many families who have family overseas, sometimes it is not possible.”
“Maybe their christening will be recorded so the family in the UK can watch as well? Family is very important to the Queen and I am sure before too long she will meet her great-granddaughter.”
Oleksandr Usyk sends warning to Tyson Fury ahead of Anthony Joshua rematch
Oleksandr Usyk will put his newly won WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts on the line in his rematch with Anthony Joshua next year, but he’s already thinking about taking on Tyson Fury. The Ukrainian, 34, left British boxing fans stunned when he outclassed Joshua in London last month, scuppering hopes of a long awaited clash between Fury and ‘AJ’ in early 2022.
Joshua, 31, did promptly trigger his rematch clause however, before Fury came through his stunning trilogy bout with Deontay Wilder to retain his WBO and Ring Magazine titles.
Now Usyk, who after Evander Holyfied and David Haye is only the third fighter to win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight level, is plotting to again get past Joshua before targeting a lucrative unification fight with ‘The Gypsy King’.
Speaking to The Sun, he was asked if he could see a clash with Fury happening: “Yes, of course, I do regard this fight a huge one. I see him as a very good fighter, good athlete, he talks a lot, he has a tongue.
“He claims he’s the king of the kings, but it’s only he who thinks that. That’s what I can say about him.”
Usyk, who won Olympic Gold at heavyweight level in the London 2012 Olympics, now has a professional record of 19-0-0, but was second favourite to beat Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
He cites that factor as further reason as to why he can potentially overcome Fury.
“Before my Joshua fight everyone was saying that I haven’t got a single chance to win and beat Joshua,” he continued.
“I used to hear those types of things throughout my life, but I am capable of beating Fury because I’m not boasting that I can just punish and beat every boxer in the world, but I just go to the gym and do my job.”
Hughie Fury could fight Derek Chisora in huge domestic fight
Since beating Wilder in Las Vegas, Fury, 33, has declared himself the beat heavyweight of this generation, and Usyk appeared to take a dig at that claim by adding “I’m not trying to present myself as the king of the Universe.
“I do what I have to do. I concentrate and I’m focused and I get the result according to my effort.”
The Ukrainian did however, acknowledge that Fury’s unique boxing style made him successful and brought him victories, which he said was the “main thing.”
As for Fury’s next opponent, that remains unclear after Dillian Whyte was forced to postpone his bout with Otto Wallin because of a shoulder injury.
Fury’s next opponent is unclear
Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn takes dig at Tyson Fury
Whyte, 33, is the mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBO crown, and it was widely thought a win over Wallin on October 30 would pave the way for a world title shot for ‘The Body Snatcher’.
Whyte, who has long been embroiled in an online war of words with Fury, said this week: “I am devastated as I had a great camp, was in great shape, and had great sparring.
“I was looking forward to knocking Wallin out and would have done so in the first half of the fight.”
Tennis great’s message to Emma Raducanu amid coaching drama
British teenage tennis phenomenon Emma Raducanu has been urged to find some coaching stability after a tumultuous period in the wake of her historic US Open title.
Raducanu raised eyebrows after parting ways with coach Andrew Richardson after her US Open victory – in a move that surprised many tennis commentators.
Richardson coached the teenage star for two years at youth level and linked up with her again in July on a short-term deal for the duration of her time in the United States.
However, Raducanu said she was looking for a coach with more experience at the elite level of world tennis.
The 18-year-old parted ways with coach Nigel Sears after her breakthrough Wimbledon run to the last 16, where she eventually succumbed to breathing difficulties.
She then linked up with Richardson to claim an almost unthinkable maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows, before again deciding to move on to new pastures.
Raducanu’s partnership with Katie Boulter’s coach Jeremy Bates was always going to be a stop-gap situation for the Indian Wells tournament in which the Brit crashed out in her first match.
Pictured here, Emma Raducanu speaks to the media at the Indian Wells tournament.
Emma Raducanu’s search for a new coach has taken many in the tennis world by surprise. Pic: AAP
The World No.24 is now set to link up with Spaniard Esteban Carril – who previously worked with fellow Brit Johanna Konta, before being axed just weeks after she was named most improved player of 2016 and broke into the world’s top ten.
Raducanu in set to play in the Transylvania Open in her father’s native Romania, but Carril is not set to start his tenure with the Brit until after the tournament.
Carril will be Raducanu’s fourth different coach in four months and British tennis great Greg Rusedksi says the teenager needs to find some stability for her game to flourish.
“Esteban (Carril) did a great job with Jo Konta when she had her big breakthrough and got into the top 10 in the world,” he said.
“Hopefully this works out for Emma. But she needs consistency from a team point of view to push on with all the success she has had at the US Open.”
Former British tennis player Barry Cowan said despite enjoying success at Wimbledon and then the US Open, Raducanu simply cannot keep churning through the coaches.
Teen warned about chopping and changing
“She made the Last 16 of Wimbledon and the coach got fired. She won the US Open and the coach got fired,” Cowan said.
“You cannot keep running your career like that. It will eventually catch up with you.
“Certainly she needs to build up and strike a relationship with Esteban. I hope it is successful and lasts.
“I don’t care who you are, whether you are Emma Raducanu, Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic, if you are having coaches short-term, it’s going to come back to bite you.”