There is much I don't share with Rafael Nadal: a great forehand, latin good looks, vast wealth... but there is one thing we have in common - Hoffa's Impingement. This is the very knee injury that Rafa had last year, which curtailed his season so painfully. But, after an extensive programme of treatment, he came back as strong as ever this year. I'm doing my best to emulate him.
My new physio doesn't believe in treatment machines, she prefers to get to grips with your flesh with her powerful fingers and arms. Earlier this week, I lay on the treatment table and she began to manipulate my knee. Then she pointed her elbow, placed it on my patella tendon, leant her weight onto it and started to rub very hard from side to side. I gasped and gritted my teeth, red-hot knives were shooting across my knee.
'Is that your pain?' she asked.
'Aooow,' I howled in assent, thinking she would stop.
'Good,' she said, digging her elbow in further.
'Really, really hurts,' I gasped, gripping the sides of the table as my body began to shake.
'Don't worry,' she said cheerily, 'it'll go numb in a minute or so.'
'Aooow,' I howled again, sweat coursing down my face. It felt like she was trying to saw my leg off. I kept wishing I had a piece of wood to bite on.
'Gone numb yet?' she asked
'Yes, yes,' I moaned, thankfully.
'Fine,' she said, moving her elbow to a fresh part of my tendon and the intense pain began again.
After what seemed an age, she stopped and left the cubicle to get something. I lay back on the treatment table, took some deep breaths and tried to relax. My patella tendon was throbbing, but numb. No ball-boy came to proffer barley-water, banana or towel. I sighed. My physio returned and strapped my knee. The treatment was over, until next week.
I may never reach SW19 or trouble Hawkeye. At this point, all I want to be able to do is to walk to the bottom of the lane outside my house without pain.