Rafael Nadal has confessed that he now must rely on painful – if intermittent – jabs to a nerve if he wants to keep on playing while fighting years of foot pain.

The 36-year-old world No. 2 told Spain’s Marca of his predicament, with the intrusive treatment now the lifeline which keeps him on court.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion said the new treatment “has drastically changed not my career, which in the end is secondary, but my personal life.”

He said the doctors really went to work on him after Wimbledon, where he had to hand in an injury walkover to NIck Kyrgios.

“I’ve had it done  many times after Wimbledon because the injury is incurable – when nerve starts to hurt you have to do it again.:

Nadal was due to fly out to Australia on Monday after Christmas with his family on the island of Mallorca.

He will lead Spain at the new United Cup ATP-WTA team event prior to the Australian Open from January 16.

“Sharing a team with my teammates makes me excited and for sure it will be a fun experience,” he said.

“The Australian Open draw – he will be seeded second behind compatriot Carlos Alcaraz – will be complicated.

“At least I will get two matches before the Open which will come in handy. I’m going to try to win or at least get to the level I need to be competitive in Melbourne.“

Main photo:- Rafa Nadal celebrates as he beats Roger Federer 2012 Australian Open semi final match by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd