Recently a stomach virus has kept Rafa from training as he would like and as a result he withdrew from Abu Dhabi which was scheduled to be his first tournament back.
While the Abu Dhabi tournament organisers scrambled to replace Rafa’s after his last minute withdrawal (and after they had snubbed Roger Federer) the Australian Open looked to be in doubt.
Today Rafa announced that he would not play Doha or the Australian Open and I have to say it’s the best decision Rafa’s made in a while. He’s continued playing when he’s had viruses before and we all saw how he profusely he sweat during play and how much longer the fevers dragged on for.
He was warned about the injury risk and ignored it, playing the Australian Open in 2010 and picking up a groin tear in the semi-finals.
After a serious knee injury why would he bash his body against a hard court when he knows he can’t win?
The simple truth is without the warm up that Doha and Abu Dhabi would have provided to test the knee and learn to trust it in match conditions the Australian Open is a waste of time and an unnecessary strain on the body. Not only that but he’d be starting out playing best of 5 set matches – not the ideal return.
Even Uncle Toni said this was a major reason for pulling out of the first Grand Slam of the year. “It is simply not conceivable that his first event is a best of five sets event, he wouldn’t be ready for that.”
More importantly Rafa hasn’t spent much time on the court. He only really returned to court practices in the last few weeks which is insufficient given the nature of his knee injury and the amount of time he’s been out.
Realistically I also think we all know that regardless of what he’s said the knee hasn’t been healing as well as he wanted and he’s trying to give it a bit more time. I would doubt that he’s playing pain free – or even mostly pain free.
Nadal will only damage it more if he pushes for the Australian Open so why play?
Rafa made it clear a while ago his aim is to get another French Open. Having won there 7 times previously and knowing he has a huge number of points to defend on clay – a surface which will be kinder to his knees – it makes perfect sense that Rafa intends to return to Acapulco.
He has said that while he’s not playing the Australian Open he would consider other ATP events… it’s going to be interesting to see how much interest he shows in Indian Wells and Miami. He’s often had knee troubles start in Miami that continue to bother him through the clay season but I guess we will have to wait and see.
For now Rafa will remain in Mallorca… and given that the weather is so beautiful here at the moment (I’m enjoying my Christmas holidays in Mallorca) … why not!
As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks. I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event
My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, but this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open, as we had initially scheduled.
Rafa fans – Just remember that when Rafa does finally come back there are likely to be a few small injury bumps along the way as his body adjusts to match play.