Nadal had a trainer come onto court to strap both wrists and forearms after one game of the second set against French Open quarter-final opponent Diego Schwartzman.
The Spaniard showed no outwards signs of a problem but did have wrist surgery at the end of 2016 and this latest treatment sparked fears he might be forced out of the tournament prematurely.
However, Alex Corretja, one of the few men with intimate knowledge of the Nadal camp, claimed on Eurosport’s commentary that the strapping was to absorb sweat that was dripping into his palms.
But tennis broadcaster Catherine Whitaker has dismissed the excuse, claiming that it would be foolish of the world No 1 to release any information suggesting he is carrying an injury.
“There is certainly an air of mystery,” said Whitaker on The Tennis Podcast.
“I don’t doubt Alex Corretja’s insider knowledge but would they tell anyone, even Alex, if there were an injury to Nadal’s wrists, those problems that were plaguing him previously were plaguing him once again?
“The fact is that Nadal’s locker room aura at the moment is buying him several games per match, his dominance on clay.
“His record on clay recently is such that he is walking out onto the court terrifying opponents – unless you’re 5ft 7in Diego Schwartzman! Giving away any of that locker room aura is not advisable.
“Second of all, he can probably – not definitely – still win this tournament with a bit of an injury.
“Why give anything away? I don’t know either way but I think if it were an injury, we wouldn’t know either.”
Nadal looks on course to win a remarkable 11th French Open title with only two men having ever beaten him at Roland Garros.
And one of those – Robin Soderling who dumped the “King of Clay” out in 2009 – agrees with Whitaker that Nadal’s very presence on court is winning him matches.
“Sometimes I see many, many players, even good players, you know, top players, they go on the court against Rafa on clay, or Roger on hard court, or any other surface, and you can almost see that they don’t really believe 100% that they can win. They hope that they will win, but they don’t really believe in it,” Soderling said.
“So many times the top players, they win half of the match almost before the match started because their opponent don’t really believe in it.
“So I think it’s really important that you show everyone that you are on the court to win.”