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Life Imitating Art 07/29/2009 - 3:09 PM

87961097 by Pete Bodo

Yesterday I wrote about how Roger Federer is at a significant career crossroads, and one of the more interesting subplots in this plot-rich rivalry Federer enjoys with Rafael Nadal is that the same could be said for Nadal. And if the events of the last 12 months in Federer's life have been unpredictable and surprising, constituting a narrative of the kind on which Hollywood thrives, with all that Journey of the Hero baloney they teach in film school, Nadal's own trials have a decidedly Biblical flavor.

This is a case of life imitating art, because there's a measure of verisimilitude in those comparisons. Federer is tennis's version of a fabulous leading man in the old-school tradition: he's sophisticated, he bears his enormous gifts lightly (but without ever abusing or betraying them), he enjoys wearing $3,000 suits and feels no obligation to proclaim his manliness. He prefers a good fashion show to, say, deep-sea fishing. Mostly, though, his career has been distinguished (generally) by an extraordinary ability to make the difficult appear easy, and a penchant to let everyone else do his worrying for him. He's like a Swiss James Bond; they don't do gun-play, bedroom romps, and potent cocktails all that well there.

By contrast, Nadal is all grit, glistening biceps, and unruly hair. He's boyish; the second impulse many women feel in his presence is a profound desire to give him a motherly hug (that this is vastly different from the first impulse is a subject we'd better leave for another time). It's easy to picture Rafa as an extra in The Ten Commandments, although a more profound analogy might call upon a comparison of Nadal with the subject of the Book of Job. Only Nadal's relative youth keeps that one from hitting the bulls-eye, but with Federer unlikely to vanish from the tennis scene soon, even that qualifier might have to be discarded.

Nadal's accomplishments have been glorious, already. But a more intriguing and volatile story-line was placed over his developing record, like one of those transparent panels containing various body parts in a biology textbook. And that was the theme of Nadal's pursuit of Federer - an unavoidable theme, given the Spanish youth's ambitions. It's probably time to peel back that panel, because anybody who thinks that a primary goal of either man's career is bringing down the other is just plain nuts. That the accomplishment of either man's stated goals inevitably includes having to triumph over the other is more of an accident of the way the game is structured than a motivational force for either Federer or Nadal. Rivalries are not just wonderful, they're pre-ordained. And has any comparably riveting rivalry so conspicuously lacked what we would call "bulletin board" material?

Just as the tribulations of the past 12 months have tempered Federer, we can expect to see a different Nadal emerge from his recent, enforced absence from tennis. Already we see a more sober, muted champion than the one to whom those great prizes - a Wimbledon title, an Olympic games gold medal, the no. 1 ranking - were something to strive for, a job into which to put his back with blinkered eyes. In the coming months, Nadal will face challenges parallel to the ones Federer surmounted this summer; but the theme won't be catching Federer any more than derailing Nadal was a preoccupation for Federer. It will simply be getting back what he once possessed - health, stamina, and those cherished ATP ranking points. For Federer, this past year was largely a psychological call to arms; for Nadal, it will be a physical one, although we all know that the two are intimately related.

The news these days out of Manacor has been slightly disconcerting as well as puzzling. If you read the interviews and articles closely, you might also detect an undercurrent of doubt and perhaps even sadness in Rafael Nadal's remarks about the status of his knees. For example, did you note how he emphasized the need to learn how to "overcome difficult situations or face them with a positive mindset and learn to enjoy suffering. . . [it is] is a virtue that I’ve always had, I like to suffer, I have learned to enjoy suffering and I believe that is what helps me."

We needn't make too much of this; a taste for suffering is an attribute of of many great athletes, in all sports. The more alarming quote from Rafa was his simple explanation for why he pulled the plug instead of defending his Wimbledon title.  "I decided it was best to stop and recover because you lose the drive to go back to train and compete, because you are not with the same energy, little by little it destroys you."

This is not just dramatic; it's also a sad if unflinchingly realistic assessment coming from the mouth of the 23-year old. And if the observation can be construed as a threat to Nadal's career, it's chiefly in an area related to his love of the game - a theme we worked over pretty well yesterday. It's hard to love playing when doing so is downright painful, and the source of stress and anxiety. Nadal will have two major issues to deal with when he does return: the physical state of his knees, and the mental drain of worrying about those knees.

My own feeling, though, is optimistic. Nadal is a fighter, and he knows as well as anyone else what's at stake in the next few weeks. He's always done his heavy lifting for the year by the end of Wimbledon, which has hampered his enthusiasm and effectiveness at the U.S. Open. Soon, he'll embark for the first time on the quest for the American national title with a hard-court major in hand and plenty of rest. He could meet Federer's ante and complete his own career Grand Slam in 2009, which would certainly make this one of the most extraordinary of years in tennis.

Great players tend to see challenges as opportunities rather than daunting tests - witness how Federer took extra care to prevent Roland Garros from slipping away from him. One reason Nadal has seemed a little down lately may be less alarming than it may appear - the kid probably just misses playing. Pete Sampras was comparably bummed out when he was forced to miss the U.S. Open of 1999 with an unexpected back injury, and he's spoken eloquently of how depressed he became in the subsequent weeks. But he returned soon enough, and made the finals in New York for the next three years running (winning once).

Brushes with mortality, especially for the young, are never easy experiences.

Perhaps there will be an up-side to the time Nadal's had to spend away from tennis recently, although it would have to be a whopper to make up for having to miss Wimbledon and being forced the yield his no. 1 ranking without a fight. The time off has given Nadal ample opportunity to assess where he stands; the ways in which his career is no longer about achieving the typical goals that any great young player sets himself. In this next stage, Nadal needs to forget any distracting sub-plots and focus on what he wants out of the game, and his long-term source of motivation.

Sometimes it seems like the only two people who aren't especially interested in defining Federer and Nadal through each other are. . .Federer and Nadal. So, if you can see things through their eyes, Federer's accomplishments during Nadal's absence are not just irrelevant to the coming weeks (except in the sense that Federer will be a more confident player), they have liberated Nadal to adopt the role he knows best, and which has thus far defined his career thanks to the parallel excellence of Federer - that of the determined, hard-working underdog. But now he'll be motivated by a desire to recoup what's been lost, rather than to merely hang on to what he's earned, or add another title to his collection.

Unless his knees prove troublesome, Nadal may find himself in a much better place mentally once he gets out on those hard courts and starts smoking the forehands and belting those returns.


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Posted by thomas 07/29/2009 at 08:15 PM

when Bjorn Borg won his 11th GS at the age of 25, people said that they all saw 15 or even 20 coming... and we know what happened since. So, what we know is that you never know.

Posted by thomas 07/29/2009 at 08:16 PM

when Bjorn Borg won his 11th GS at the age of 25, people said that they all saw 15 or even 20 coming... and we know what happened since. So, what we know is that you never know.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 08:18 PM

I don't think is time to feel sadness at all, otherwise is time to feel happiness. In that interview Rafa looks great, maybe a little bit more cautious talking about his knees, but that is normal after to suffer so much for long time.
Probably know, he almost "can't believe" that he can play without any pain
I'm sure that when he is going to star to play again he is going to be in the best conditions
Great Comment Peter!!!!!

Posted by tinalidav 07/29/2009 at 08:22 PM

I wish Rafa had actually suffered an injury -- one that required surgery -- because it could have led to improved durability. That, at age 23, he's already suffering such debilitating tendonitis has me worried that his career will mirror Lleyton Hewitt's: someone who never contends for majors again once his legs are no longer better than everyone else's.

Posted by tinalidav 07/29/2009 at 08:22 PM

I wish Rafa had actually suffered an injury -- one that required surgery -- because it could have led to improved durability. That, at age 23, he's already suffering such debilitating tendonitis has me worried that his career will mirror Lleyton Hewitt's: someone who never contends for majors again once his legs are no longer better than everyone else's.

Posted by lollipop 07/29/2009 at 08:22 PM

The rafa interview was a bit depressing to read. Thanks for this article, Pete. It really puts everything in perspective, and helps us understad where exactly Rafa stands at the moment. Great article, once again.

Posted by TennisFan2 07/29/2009 at 08:57 PM

A physically and mentally healthy Rafa is what I am looking forward - if Rafa is not close to 100% in both he should take some more time - I'd rather have him around for a few more years than see something debilitating happen from him coming back too soon.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/29/2009 at 09:05 PM

TennisFan2,

Yes and that is what all Rafa fans believe and want to see.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 09:10 PM

Mi English is getting worse and worse, sorry, I meant to say "probably now"

Lollipop, I'm from Spain (but I live here between Miami and New York)and watching and listenig the interview, Rafa doesn't sound sad or too worry or depressing at all. I did like how he's thinking and I'm sure he is going to play great

Posted by Anand 07/29/2009 at 09:14 PM

Pete, I believe you are sometimes know as the Federer of tennis journalism.

* Is this another of your Slams won against poor competition?
* What will it take to get you back to your A game?

After reading your last two posts, I can only feel sorry for tennis, that such greats can be belittled so easily.

Posted by Myeca - Rafa is my guy! 07/29/2009 at 09:32 PM

Thank you "Roadrunnerzzz" for your insight.

Tennis needs Rafa. It just hasn't been the same the past couple of months without him. I agree his knees will continue to give him trouble if he doesn't alter his training and scheduling but I don't think he's stupid. This past injury has been a wake up call for him. My prediction is he will use these next couple of HC tourneys to get back in match shape and he will go on to win the USO.

Also, I find it funny that women have trouble admitting they are attractive to Rafa. And I DON'T mean in a motherly way. He is a 23 yr old grown man and I have no problem with saying how beautiful of a speciman he is. I think he's gorgeous and I will continue to say that to whom ever will listen. He's been getting a lot of crap for the pink shirt he wore at RG but truth be told....he looked HOT in that PINK shirt!!!!

We miss you Rafa!

Posted by Papo 07/29/2009 at 09:33 PM

Hmmm, is it me or is Murray in good position to overtake Rafa for the number two ranking? The ATP website currently has Rafa at 9,735 and Murray at 9,260. Even if he defends his Montreal Masters he'll only be defending points and his Olympic points will be dropping off soon regardless.

Murray has quite a few points to defend himself as the Cincinatti Masters champion and US Open finalist from last year, but there is just enough of a window before those tournaments where he can overtake Rafa. Will we see Roger and Rafa on the same side of the draw come the US Open?

I understand it's more important that Rafa be fully healthy, but man : (
As a big Nadal fan, I can't help but feel bad that just like that Rafa has lost his number one ranking and is in danger of falling even further in the rankings.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/29/2009 at 09:41 PM

Papo Yes indeed,Rafa when he won Toronto last year then on the 18th August was the no 1 player.Who could have thought that this year has turned out the way it has.

I just want Rafa to return 100% fit and healthy.

Posted by Cosi 07/29/2009 at 09:48 PM

Posted by roadrunnerz 07/29/2009 @ 5:41 PM

"He's like a Swiss James Bond; they don't do gun-play, bedroom romps, and potent cocktails all that well there."

I dunno about the gunplay thing, Pete, considering every able-bodied man in Switzerland has a military rifle in their closet..."

Im trying to figure out how Pete knows if the Swiss do or don't do "bedroom romps" ..... I'm going to have to say that the Swiss do in fact do bedroom romps, I mean they do keep having children, Roger just produced a couple of babies, I'm sure it wasn't an immaculate conception.

Posted by Konz 07/29/2009 at 09:50 PM

Good post Pete, really don't want to see Rafa wind up like Rafter.
Been waiting years for tennis to recapture the excitement of the Borg, McEnroe, Connors era. we finally get it, and Rafa is faced with this

Posted by JohnC 07/29/2009 at 09:54 PM

"I think of Rafa more like one of the ancient Mediterranean heros like Homer or Ulysses ..."

Whoops, Mr Rick, Homer was not a "hero" but the purported author of The Odyssey and The Iliad, and Ulysses was the hero of the first poem.

On points, I would think it is highly likely that Murray will be #2 by the time of the US Open, which would of course be good for him and pave the way for a Fedal semi.

Posted by Cosi 07/29/2009 at 09:55 PM

Tendonitis is very common just like everybody is saying. There is probably not one tennis player that we all like to watch that hasn't had it to the point that it affected their game for awhile at least once. As long as Nadal takes care of the problem by resting when it gets really bad and doing all the therapies that he needs to do, and preventative measures, he will probably be fine. Venus williams has had multiple bouts with tendonitis in both wrists, this has been going on with her since she was a young player and as we all know, she's 29 and still going strong. All this doom and gloom about Nadal not being able to play long or predictions of the end of his career already is really premature considering the type of problem he has. It's not like his shoulder is blown out or something or that he needs reconstructive surgery on a joint. I think his fans need to worry more about his mind than his knees, JMHO...

Posted by rafadoc 07/29/2009 at 10:08 PM

Cosi: Your words are very positive. I agree that if Rafa manages his schedule better, and listens to his body, he can be around a long time. I am not sure what you refer to with his fans needing to worry more about "his mind". I don't agree or disagree...just need more clarification on that. :)

Lollipop/Carol: I agree that Rafa was pretty positive, not depressing to me. Of course I am anxious but I thought the tone of the interview was pretty positive.

Posted by JohnC 07/29/2009 at 10:09 PM

While I'm at it, "Immaculate Conception", Cosi, does not mean virgin birth but refers to Mary being born without the stain of original sin. But I agree that it would presumptous to jump to conclusions about Swiss bedroom behaviour.

As for the tendinitis, the issue is that he has had it for some years, and it has become progressively worse. Perhaps it is manageable going forward, but as I said on the previous page I'm not optimistic at the moment.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 10:10 PM

I wish everything could be more about his mind than his knees

Posted by TheTennisFan 07/29/2009 at 10:17 PM

I'm not a Nadal fan, and don't know what it means "when some women want to hug him in a motherly fashion". Good for whoever wants to do that.
Last I heard is that he's re-thinking of playing in Montreal...but sometime or the other he has to come back and face his opponents.
The knee thing(or the mental thing) has gone on for too long. Lots of champions have lost big games and have come back. Tons of players before him & tons afterwards will have to play on hard surfaces & all surfaces. One year at the number one ranking and you are totally off tennis.
If you don't think you have it(physically or mentally...who really knows), stay put and take rest.

Posted by JohnC 07/29/2009 at 10:21 PM

Carol, I think Rafa's knees and mind are joined at the hip, so to speak (hehe). In other words, if he starts to experience problems on returning that must affect his confidence. He wouldn't be human if it didn't. Compare with Federer's recent comments about his back, and how that effected his game until it was finally resolved.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 10:23 PM

I was listening for one year the Federer's mono.......

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/29/2009 at 10:36 PM

It has been extremely pleasant and peaceful here tonight. Nice post, Pete.

Goodnight, everyone.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 10:39 PM

Well, after to play with pain in the knees so long (since W 07) it was time to stop ant taking care with that problem. So it's normal than now even he feels good he need to get confidence and this is going to happen playing in his first tournament

Posted by JohnC 07/29/2009 at 10:47 PM

Let's see whether he turns up at Montreal, that will be the first real indicator. If he's a no-show, then it's hard to see him being a serious challenge at the US Open.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/29/2009 at 10:55 PM

Cosi says:

Tendonitis is very common just like everybody is saying. There is probably not one tennis player that we all like to watch that hasn't had it to the point that it affected their game for awhile at least once.

Cosi: Do you have a reputable source to back up that assertion or should we just take your word on this matter?

Cosi says:

I think his [Rafa’s] fans need to worry more about his mind than his knees. . . .

Why would that be, Cosi?

Posted by pokah22 07/29/2009 at 11:09 PM

Pete, Ok - seems like u read my post and finally found something to write about Nadal and I could see how subtle you were and how careful not to upset your idol or make him less of a failure that he already is. You blasted Federer and said all kinds of condescendng things about him and u couldn't pass at the opportunity of jabbing at him again while eriting about Nadal. He earned the right to wear a $3,000 suit and I am sure u probably couldn't afford that only God knows how much u earn for writing terrible stuff about Roger. Leave Roger alone! Nadal will never meet up to Roger's standard and both of them shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence. Find something else to do. Thank God you are a man, you would have been such a jealous b**** if you were a woman, jealous of hardworking woman who have earned their rights in the society through hardwork. I don't see anything dfiierent between you and the tabloids. Get a life Pete! You need one desperately.

Posted by John 07/29/2009 at 11:14 PM

Pete, great Comment, thank you!!

Posted by rafadoc 07/29/2009 at 11:18 PM

John C: I hear you and personally, have low expectations regarding USO. But he would still potentially have Cincy. He came into AO with very little match play and the outcome was good. I am not saying he would win USO, but IF he takes the court, he will be 100% (per his own standards) and therefore be a "serious challenge", IMO.

Posted by rafadoc 07/29/2009 at 11:20 PM

^^ obviously that depends on the definition of serious challenge...

Posted by Carrie 07/29/2009 at 11:29 PM

I enjoyed this post.

I do think that Rafa is a little worried about his tennis future. The last time he had to miss a grand slam (AO 2006) he admitted afterwards that he had been very scared during that time. But it seems now that he is worried- but calm about the worry. I actually think this break was what he needed. I remember when he withdrew from Wimbledon he remarked that he couldn't play without thinking about the knee. I thought of that this weekend when I was playing doubles. I am a scrub player and had a moderate sprain 1.5 months ago and could not fully concentrate on playing without thinking about the ankle. I even said to my husband "I totally get what Rafa was talking about!" I think with this time off to heal and refresh- he may be able to come back more fully engaged.

Regarding Venus- she has had to take times off and miss grand slams as well during her career. But since she has taken the time off to heal- she is still able to play. I hope the same is true for Rafa.

I know that Rafa is sometimes derided by some of his detractors as being dumb - but I really think he sounds pretty astute and grounded when you hear him in Spanish/Mallorcan.

Posted by Carrie 07/29/2009 at 11:29 PM

I enjoyed this post.

I do think that Rafa is a little worried about his tennis future. The last time he had to miss a grand slam (AO 2006) he admitted afterwards that he had been very scared during that time. But it seems now that he is worried- but calm about the worry. I actually think this break was what he needed. I remember when he withdrew from Wimbledon he remarked that he couldn't play without thinking about the knee. I thought of that this weekend when I was playing doubles. I am a scrub player and had a moderate sprain 1.5 months ago and could not fully concentrate on playing without thinking about the ankle. I even said to my husband "I totally get what Rafa was talking about!" I think with this time off to heal and refresh- he may be able to come back more fully engaged.

Regarding Venus- she has had to take times off and miss grand slams as well during her career. But since she has taken the time off to heal- she is still able to play. I hope the same is true for Rafa.

I know that Rafa is sometimes derided by some of his detractors as being dumb - but I really think he sounds pretty astute and grounded when you hear him in Spanish/Mallorcan.

Posted by John 07/29/2009 at 11:30 PM

hehe rafadoc, good point

Posted by rafadoc 07/29/2009 at 11:36 PM

Carrie: Thanks for your insights. Indeed, Rafa said he was thinking more about the knees than the tennis. I appreciate your take on the mental aspect of recovering from injury. I also appreciate that other great players, like Sampras and Venus, have had tough times and come back strong (and of course Rafa has done this several times himself).

Posted by JohnC 07/29/2009 at 11:36 PM

Well, none of us can tell the future, but looking at this from a bookmaker's perspective a serious challenge would be better than 10 to 1 odds to win the USO. From a tennis POV, I think he is more vulnerable to other players in the top 20 than Roger on hard courts.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 07/29/2009 at 11:41 PM

Huh? pokah, honey, are you lost, here you can borrow my GPS :)

I will be surprised to see Rafa in Montreal. I remember a couple years ago the TD at the New Haven event really tried to get Rafa to play, he/she might get his/her wish this year.

I hope the USO is definitely in Team Rafa's sights. But in my mind 2010 is going to be the comeback. He has been out long enough to be able to endure being out longer if need be...does that make sense?
I believe him when he says he won't return till he is 100%

Posted by rafadoc 07/29/2009 at 11:48 PM

Rudy3: Hmmmmm. Hadn't thought about New Haven-that is between Cincy and USO, right? I believe he won't return until he is 100% either...and I mean closer to 100.01% and not 99.9%. Will be hard on him and fans, but absolutely the right decision.

Posted by Carol 07/29/2009 at 11:49 PM

Carrie, his detractors have very poor arguments, they don't know what else to say, but you are rigth, besides Rafa is a great player and person, yes, he is very astute, more astute than his detractors, let's go them to keep thinking he is not going to be a serious challenge.......

Posted by Dorian 07/30/2009 at 12:11 AM

Wow, started great, sorry... not sure why Americans find the need to bring up Christianity whenever they can?? WTF? Nadal's coach is an atheist, and good on him for making it so. You're comparing two very real men to a book of fantasy?? Why not pick Jason and the Argonauts?? Leave your religious beliefs in the trash can, there are plenty of readers who are not from the Judeo/Christian background and some, believe it or not America who care for no 'gods' at all...consider my subscription cancelled..what next? Safina hanging out with Job when he gave his daughters up for raping by the mens towns folk?? Seminary school is calling you Pope Bodo..

Posted by Andrew 07/30/2009 at 12:33 AM

Evening, all.

One thing that may be hard to credit (I've come round to Pete's view that 6 months is a long time in tennis) is that three months ago many of us Federer fans were wondering when Federer would find any semblence of form again. His play was volatile and stuttering - his service motion had clearly changed, despite the player's own demurral. The racquet smash in Miami didn't trouble me too much: the I-can't-bear-to-look-but-I-know-it's-coming surrender of break leads in the second and third sets vs Djokovic in Rome SF 2009 felt much worse.

By Federer's own admission, he fessed up to his subconcious fear of injury, pushed himself hard, and reached a place where he could battle Nadal in a final and win (and get past 15-40 serving for the match), and get past Haas, Del Potro and Roddick in GS 5 setters. That wouldn't have been possible three months before.

So I'd urge my fellow Federer fans to listen sympathetically to Nadal's supporters, as they hope for his return to his best level. We've been there, and it wasn't fun. The continuing golden era in the ATP needs all its best players able to give their best. Hang in there, all.

Posted by rafadoc 07/30/2009 at 12:36 AM

Thanks Andrew. Empathy is a gift-and you have it. :)

Posted by Vie 07/30/2009 at 12:45 AM

I don't agree that Rafa needed liberation from the #1 position. I think he enjoyed the wins and the position and was quite comfortable and authoritative there. He was unhappy that he was not able to defend obviously. Rafa has a winning record over Federer since the beginning, that #1 position would not have daunted him. Knee injury is the big source of the worry for him, not opponents nor his ranking. He can be #1, #2, #3... The source of his strength is his mentality.

Posted by Sherlock 07/30/2009 at 01:05 AM

Vie, good post. Totally agree. Some #1 being a big burden for Rafa doesn't quite ring true. :)

Give me healthy knees from Madrid onward, and I like his chances everywhere.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/30/2009 at 01:32 AM

Gee Rafa dosent really care if he is no 1 or 2,whatever

To him its about being able to compete well.

In order to do so he has to be fit and healthy.

Posted by Cosi 07/30/2009 at 01:42 AM

John C, your church teaches things a little differently than the things my church did when I went to one as a kid.. I'll leave it at that, this isn't the place and I'm spiritual, not religious and only used the immaculate conception remark for what I hoped would be a humurous analogy..

Carol, actually I think you should prefer a physical problem that can heal rather than a mental problem, seems the players with mental issues have the hardest time overcoming, think Elena Dementieva and several years of double faulting, or Nadia Petrova and several years of massive choking.

ManualSantanaFan, I remember the last time you spoke(attacked) to me on this forum and you seemed to quite dislike my posting and have no respect for me as an intellect or individual, I said at that time that if you felt that way,you should ignore my posts and stop attempting to engage me in conversation, since what I thought was meaningless and stupid to you.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/30/2009 at 01:57 AM

Morning, all.

I don't think Rafa had issues with being #1 either. As he said, hard to compete and love to play when you're playing in pain.

I do think life would be much simpler if we could just take all these guys at their word. :)

word, Andrew. :) The funny thing is how it's suddenly come to seem inevitable that Federer got that channel slam, and already I've come across the occasional "so easy to be a Federer fan." LOL. Not for about 18 months, it wasn't. And whoever said a few weeks back that Federer fans and Nadal fans have a lot in common is so right. :)

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/30/2009 at 02:02 AM

LOL at comparing Nadal to Petrova or even Demmy. Yeah, he's such a headcase. :)

I think he's worried now; once he gets back on court and starts playing he'll start banishing those doubts. I hope. :)

Posted by weeeeeee 07/30/2009 at 02:38 AM

PETE, you have a really annoying way of writing. Congratulations. You try WAY TOO HARD to be clever and cute. two words come to mind when I read your articles, JUST STOP.

Posted by TennisFan3 07/30/2009 at 03:30 AM

""I don't agree that Rafa needed liberation from the #1 position. ""

Exactly. I don't buy this stuff of Rafa being better as an underdog ( when ranked #2). If anything the aura associated with the #1 ranking enabled Nadal to win some very close matches at the later part of last yr.
Nadal was #2 for 3 yrs because Federer was better at that time. Ask Nadal, and he would have taken #1 in a heartbeat ( if he had the choice).

The only thing bothering Nadal is the knees. I'm glad he made that clear in the interview. Only Nadal knows the extent of the pain and injury. So we can put all the speculation aside, unless someone has a CB that really works. Anyway, the true test (for Nadal) will surely be a tight 4 hr match on a hardcourt where someone runs him ragged (like Sodering did at the F.O). But it looks like Nadal is finally coming to terms with the limitations that his body imposes on him.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/30/2009 at 03:40 AM

I'm not sure that Pete was trying to say that Rafa was better as the underdog - just that revisiting that role, one he knows, is going to give him extra motivation to regain top dog position. It's going to make the first task relatively simple, too, I guess. Anyway, that's how I read the last bit.

Posted by chester89 07/30/2009 at 04:35 AM

great post, Pete. I agree - and what I believe in so strong is that Nadal will came back, may be even this year, but more likely in 2010. What Federer did is just a consequence of Rafa`s withdrawal and a luck. In given circumstances Roger made no sensations winning two Grand Slams out of two and beating Sampras` Slam record. It`s much because Nadal wasn`t able to compete. What a pity(

Posted by felizjulianidad 07/30/2009 at 08:01 AM

I just played tennis at a local club here in Mallorca.

The word from Mallorca's tennis community is that Nadal is taking his knees extremely seriously. He sleeps with some magnetotherapy plugged into his knees, he spends loads of time in the pool with some particular exercises, and he's been training hard at tennis again.

Apparently, his mood is good. He just played too many tournaments in the spring, and by the time Madrid rolled around, he was just plain miserable - every time he turned, it hurt.

People don't seem terribly worried.

Earlier, I saw Feliciano López in the Iberia Lounge at Barajas (Madrid). Just said hi, and that as part of the local Spanish community in his favorite tournament, we generally support him a lot there. He said "yeah, I was injured this year, thanks for supporting me." He was mainly interested in his cell phone.

Posted by maedal (Vamos Rafa and the Armada!) 07/30/2009 at 08:12 AM

i haven't checked in or posted in a while, but am glad to come back to a genial post and mostly thoughtful commentaries and exchanges.

someone posted upthread about the possibility that rafa might slip to #3. i've thought about that myself ... but decided that ranking was secondary to rafa's simply returning to the courts healthy and strong, and bringing joy along with him.

Posted by Samantha Elin 07/30/2009 at 08:28 AM

I got this from Matt Cronin's website. Sampras revisits the GOAT debate, "It would have bothered me if I had a losing record against Andre in the majors." Don't want to comment on it, just thought it was funny and telling about how much he wanted to keep his most GS record.

Posted by mina hearts Rafa 07/30/2009 at 08:34 AM

i say screw the attachment to ranking... i'll take Rafa's 2008 performance level in exchange for the number 2 ranking. anytime, anyday.

Posted by creig bryan 07/30/2009 at 08:49 AM

Morning. Thanks again, Pete.

Keep Smiling

Posted by Russ 07/30/2009 at 08:56 AM

First two lines, third paragaph. Most accurate 50 words written about Nadal and his fandom in the history, no? What pith!

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 09:48 AM

[two people who aren't especially interested in defining Federer and Nadal through each other are. . .Federer and Nadal. ]

Kinda makes me like them more.

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 09:49 AM

[But Jon Wertheim's book has some pages devoted to showing how SIMILAR they are off court, ranging from mutual passion for football, to stable, prosperous middle class families, love of an understated home town and a sister out of the limelight. They're both laid back types too, off court, both absolutely love the beach.

I'm with Jon - I don't buy all this stuff about contrasting he-man Rafa v dandy Roger. They have a very good relationship off court precisely because they do have plenty in common.

Even with clothes, when Rog was younger, closer to Rafa's age before the fashion makeover, he wore just the same sort of clothes as Rafa, and he still does when left to himself. ]

Great post Corrie, I'm with you on this.

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 09:51 AM

[I do think that Rafa is a little worried about his tennis future. The last time he had to miss a grand slam (AO 2006) he admitted afterwards that he had been very scared during that time. But it seems now that he is worried- but calm about the worry. ]

the last time he missed a slam he was an upcoming player, still...now he's an accomplished champion, he knows he can do it. there's a world of difference.

Posted by CherryNYC 07/30/2009 at 09:53 AM

Majorca news item -- a bombing killed 2 people today -- police attributing it to ETA. horrible.

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 09:54 AM

So where is this post where Mr. X apparently translated Rafa's interview? I'd love to read it :)

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 09:55 AM

Good morning, everybody,

Here are the reasons that I admire Rafa:

I love his game, it is fast and exciting.

I love his good manners and values. Any parent, brother or sister would be proud of the manner in which he conducts himself.

And, yes, he just happens to be gorgeous.

Posted by Sad Smiles 07/30/2009 at 09:56 AM

It seem like tennis writers and analysts just over analyze so many things about these tennis players. Lot of times its just their thoughts with little to no facts. But after all it's their job.

Posted by Sad Smiles 07/30/2009 at 10:04 AM

One more thing I would like to bring up here.
After watching play Nadal - his style of play,the way he works so hard each and every match ,gotto to take a toll on your body
physically and mentally. And that is what happened to him plus you add the extra pressure of defending the crown which he lost, his first ever loss at FO. Nadal is playing the similar schedule for past few years. But I would say that WO 09 and AO 09 took a lot out of him emotionally. He is drained out guys...loosing the FO 09 was lke the volcanic eruption took place inside him.
He is doing what he suppose to do - recharge.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 10:07 AM

Another reason I admire Rafa so much,

His wonderful fighting qualities.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/30/2009 at 10:11 AM

a "volcanic eruption" of nonsense.

Unless a person has spent time around Rafa and is a mental health professional, that person's conjectures regarding Rafa's emotional state is nonsense--nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/30/2009 at 10:12 AM

Sher:

I may have copied Mr. X's translation, which was included in two posts. Let me look for it.

Posted by rafadoc 07/30/2009 at 10:14 AM

Mina: Well said. :) I am over the ranking too for the most part. When people talk about legends in tennis, they refer to how many wins/Slams. Rafa has said he loved being number 1 but that is no longer the focus. Good for him.

Sher: Mr. X translated the interview on the 7/27 YC, I believe. It was in 2 parts.

Posted by Tuulia 07/30/2009 at 10:15 AM

roadrunnerz - *hug*
If there were more your kind of Roger fans the world would be a happier and more peaceful place. :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/30/2009 at 10:15 AM

Sher:

This is a cut and paste job of Mr. X's two-post translation:

Mr. X Translations

, so here we go. First, understand that this is for the Spanish national TV, so they kiss up to the man quite a lot.
1. Q: After 2 months, many people is asking the same question: how is Rafa Nadal?
RN: Actually, i'm fine. But it's also true that we still must see how i keep evolving, because i just started training a week and a half ago, and when you start training you always feel better mentally, and i have started with hope, but as i said, we still have to see how i evolve when i really push the knees, which will happen in the next days, and hopefully everything will go well.
Q (by the chick interviewer that follows him to every tournament): Rafa, what happened? Suddenly, Wimbledon comes along and you say you are not able to compete, and you dont compete. What happened?
RN: Well, what happened was that i had been the same way several months. When i came back from Miami, training in Manacor, i started to have pain in my right knee, mainly, and it was a different pain than usual. I took off the tapes, which made everybody think things were perfect, and the problem was that the pain was no longer under the knee, but over it, and the tapes didnt help at all. From there, things started to get worst step by step. We just kept putting patches for the pain, as i have been used to play with pain for many years.
Q: Did you already play RG with pain?
RN: The thing is, it came from MC, i played MC with pain, Barcelona with pain, Rome, also Madrid, where i went to have some tests, because i realized things were going wrong, i didnt feel confortable playing, i have played almost every day with antiimflamatories, even sometimes being infiltrated at RG and i arrived too banged up to the tournaments to the most important tournaments for me, RG and Wimbledon. Also, there comes a moment when you just get tired of playing with pain and not evolving, so in this case, i decided it was better to stop and try to recover, because you even lose your will (not will, his word was "ilusion", but i cant find an accurate translation for that) to train and compete, because you dont see yourself with the same energy, and it destroys you step by step.
Q: On that note, it's said many times that the head moves the legs. You were not mentally fresh either, you have admitted it, does your familiar problem, that has been commented, have something to do with that?
RN: Well, obviously my family has always been a strong support for me, it's always been praised how i am who i am today thanks to my family and the atmosphere that has always surrounded me...
Q: You are the first son, the first nephew, the first grandson..
RN: Right, the first everything of the family, and all that has helped me a lot to arrive where i am, for sure, and well, a moment comes when some changes happen in the family, and i'm obviously human and in the beginning it's tough to...not accept, but get used to, and i personally feel it more because i'm not at home, but that's not what has affected me, because that happened some months ago, and i won IW, MC, Barcelona, Rome, but the real problem were the knees. It obviously doesnt help, but you can live with that other stuff, and i consider myself a positive and happy person, and i have totally, well, almost, gotten over that. It's a new situation and we have to learn to live with it.
Q: You dont specially like to talk about your family and your entourage.
RN: No, i have never talked about my family or anything personal, and i have never like to extend myself talking about this and to be honest, my real problem are the kness. That's why i finally stopped, no need to give it more thought, and that (the knees) is what mentally keeps destroying you, because you feel defenceless, you feel that in the end, it's too much of a struggle every moment. I personally enjoy the struggle, i have learned to enjoy it, and i think that's a virtue of mine, but the truth is, if you keep training bad every day, you cant move well, every match is a different story and you dont know how you're gonna feel, in the end your head is full of doubts, and you cant live with that in a competition as tough as tennis with those problems. That's why i decided to stop in that time, and i hopè it has been positive.
Q: It's been 2 months, wich is very unusual in tennis players of your level. What have you done these 2 months? What have you missed?RN: Well, at the beginning, i wasnt willing to do much, because i felt bad, i was disappointed, mentally touched, and i felt i hadnt done things the way i should with my schedule, which was my mistake, as i'm the one that makes the decissions in the end, and the problem is mine for, maybe not knowing when to stop, when to rest. You also must understand that it's difficult to know, because i've been through this thing so many times, playing with pain, with problems, and most of the times coming through in the end, that you never really know when you can or cant keep going, and in this case, the ideal thing would have been stopping 3 weeks after Rome to arrive better to RG, but i didnt, i wanted to play Madrid, which knowing what has happened was a mistake. However, nobody can be sure that i had arrived to RG and Wimbledon in perfect form if i hadnt played Madrid, because i actually have been almost 2 months out, and i'm much better than i was, but i'm not in perfect shape, i think.
1. Q (by the lady who obviously has a crush on him): What i realise is that your perspective, your way to take your job, has actually changed this couple of months.
RN: I dont think so, but it's true that it's always said you must learn from your mistakes, and i must try not to repeat things that have gone wrong, and value certain situations with more caution, which maybe i wasnt used to, as i'm used to give everything always.
Q: In these 2 months, have you had vacation time?
RN: Unfortunately, not much. I've made many hours of rehab with several machines on my knees, to a global time of 5 and a half hours each day, plus one that i sleep with, which obviously doesnt affect my dayly rutine.
(here, the lady fangurls tremendously, saying that machine must be envied by all the others and that has a great image)
RN: I had many hours of work and i sicerely havent enjoyed myself as much as i would have liked to, because you know me, and i have problems to be still and not do anything, i'm quite an active person, i like to do several things, specially playing football in the beach in the summer. I havent been to the beach a single day, except with the boat, but to go to the beach and watch my friends play football while i'm lying on the beach i prefer to stay here. Not so much of a sacrifice, it's what it is, and you have to go through these situations in life.
Q (more fangirling): There are obviously bigger sacrifices in life, but i mean you have an enormous hability to sacrifice?
RN: No, i was just told not to do many things, and be as still as possible, and that's what i've done. I've spent more hours on the couch these couple of months than in the last 4 years.
(Now, there are a series of non-tennis related questions, where he talks about the crisis, saying it affects everybody, in more or less degree, talks about watching Gasol and Contador's success, Ronaldo and Real Madrid, etc)
Back in another post with the rest. By the way, i would reccomend this interview to the female fans of Rafa, even if they dont understand a thing he says, i get the feeling they are gonna enjoy it.
Wow, that was a long post. Sorry.


Rosangel, it's actually the millions...(long pause)...AND MILLIONS:)
Anyway, on to the rest of the tennis-related part of the interview:
2. Q: I want ot ask you about your mental strength, that makes you able to win a set when you are 0-5 down...
RN: That happens very few times.
Q: But we've seen you do it (when, i ask? anyway, i'm just the translator). What do you think in those moments. Do you think about yourself, about the opponent, his weakneses and strengths...?
RN: Most times, when i'm doing that bad, i think "i've lost".
Q: What is, for you, that mental strength we all talk about when we refer to your game?
RN: The mental strength is being able to overcome difficult situations, or even more being able to face difficult situations with a positive attitude. As i said, before, learning to enjoy the struggle is a very imprtant thing, because may times you have long 5-set matches, that are decided in the end by a couple of points, and you must be able to keep your focus. That extra something is what makes you win, and that's a work of years, i've worked the mental side my whole life, specially my uncle has trained that mental side of mine since i was young, and i think that's being a virtue of mine these last years, that i always, or almost always, have been ready to fight. I think that, not fear to lose, but that absolute respect for your opponents has made me win a lot of tough matches. That respect i have towards my opponents has 2 sides, as it sometimes makes me have more doubts before a tournament. For example, right now i'm in a sea of doubts.
Q: Are you afraid of coming back?
RN: Not afraid, but...
Q: Maybe some vertigo?
Q (by the lady): But it happens to you many times before you start a tournament.
RN: Many times. I'm not afraid, but it depends on the moment, and right now i havent competed in 2 months. My main concern right now is having my knees in the right shape, because when i look at my numbers in the last years, it gives me confidence to know that things have worked well when i've been allright. I know that's not forever, but i'm confident it will still last for some time. I have worked for this my whole life, and i still do, and i'm not gonna lack anything in that department, but the truth is i havent competed in 2 months, and when you return, it's always...
Q (let him end, damnit! That sounded important, you bimbo!): And what is your goal now? In these 2 months, you've lost the No.1 to Federer, that you had previously taken from him. Is the No.1 ranking your goal?
RN: Not at all. My only goal, as always, even if people dont believe it, is feeling right, being happy playing tennis, and improving. I know that if my knees are not in perfect shape i cant improve, because i cant train hard enough. So my first goal is getting the knees in perfect shape. Looks like i'm doing fine, but i want to be sure i'm fine before i get back on court.
Q: When are you coming back, Rafa?
RN: Even i dont know. I hope it's Montreal, in a week and a half, but i'll also tell you that in the next 3 days i'm gonna push my knees, because i'm not gonna go there without having tested myself, and if things go wrong and i'm not at the right level i wont, and i know finding my rythm against top level competition is gonna be tough at the beginning. But my goal and my "ilusion" (translate it as hope, more or less) is to be there, but not to be No.1.
Q: Out of curiosity, has Federer called you?RN: I sent him a message to congratulate him after Wimbledon, which he answered, and the other day i sent him another to congratulate him about the twins. He still hasnt answered, but i guess he has thousands of messages.
Q: What is your best memory of these 2 months?
RN: Without any doubt, all the support i have received from the people, with thousands of messages in my website and my cell phone, from people of all kinds, sportsmen, politics, friends, people i know. That makes me keep going forward, because it shows that many people care about me and love me.
Q: Are you free to come back, Rafa? Are you free to decide yourself, or is there pressure from the sponsors, the ATP, the tour..?
RN: I've never had any pressure from my sponsors (what else is he gonna say?) to come back, and from the ATP, that would be the last thing, after the schedule they make. No, i'm free to come back when i feel ready. And let me tell you, as well as i say a month ago i wasnt mentally prepared to return even if me knee had been fine, because it was a very tough blow not being able to compete in Wimbledon after losing at RG, and all that combined with the pain. Right now, i feel mentally ready to return, and i dont have any doubt that once i'm fine, i'll come back to give everything i have. Then, the results, as you know, arrive sooner or later, or they dont arrive at all, but i'll do all i can to make them come sooner rather than later and, most importantly to make them come.
Q: Thanks, Rafa. We'll be with you wherever you go.
Q: Thanks, Rafa. Best of luck.
RN: Thanks. I'll need it.
And that's it. Suddenly , i have a new-found respect for all those translators that have to do this instantly.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 10:20 AM

Thanks for reminding us, Manuel.

Posted by rafadoc 07/30/2009 at 10:20 AM

Thanks MSF (that was 7/28 YC btw).

Lynne: Nice list...I agree. :)


Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 10:22 AM

Rafadoc,

Also forgot to mention his modesty and humility!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/30/2009 at 10:24 AM

Haven't read Wertheim's book, haven't met either Rafa or Federer, and don't pretend to know them.

For what it's worth, I get the sense that they're both rather down to earth guys and good guys in the locker room--to the extent one can be in light of all the success they have had.

I think it was Roddick who said that he would like to hate Federer, but he is too nice a guy.

As others have said, men's pro tennis is lucky to have representatives like Rafa and Federer.

Anyway, if I'm not careful, I'll experience a dangerous sweetness overdose.

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 10:46 AM

thanks rafadoc and manuelsantanafan, i appreciate it! :)

Posted by Sher 07/30/2009 at 10:53 AM

RN: I've never had any pressure from ... the ATP, that would be the last thing, after the schedule they make.

LOL!

Posted by Tuulia 07/30/2009 at 10:54 AM

Andrew - *hug*
(for the same reason as to roadrunnerz) :)

Posted by its me 07/30/2009 at 10:56 AM

What a post..!! gr8 job pete, cudnt expect anything less from you..!!

Posted by Tuulia 07/30/2009 at 11:01 AM

I'm surprised some people thought Rafa's TVE interview was somehow depressing, sad, negative or whatever. I can only assume you haven't watched it. He looked happy, relaxed, positive - unlike he had looked a lot of the time during spring, when many a fan was wondering what's wrong with him, and worried for him. He was realistic in what he said, but he seemed to be fine, better than in a long time, calmly composed and positive. Good vibes, I say.

Posted by Game Lover 07/30/2009 at 11:38 AM

Tuulia:

"I'm surprised some people thought Rafa's TVE interview was somehow depressing, sad, negative or whatever"

Those were probably the same fans that in the past have told some of us, more realistic people, that Rafa's schedule was ok.

I kinda knew better, having tendinitis myself and also remembering how Rafa couldn't incorporate any form of running in his practises around 2003 (when he had the last bad knee injury).

Besides, all one had to do was to look at the end of the last couple of seasons and realized that he was allways kind done by USO...

Good luck to him now, he'll get back to the top hopefully, even if maybe not this year, but in 2010 (like Roger)!

I don't understand my friend Pspace when he complains that we talk about injuries: yes, I think it's ok to talk about them if they are serious and/or career threatening...

Posted by Game Lover 07/30/2009 at 11:39 AM

"and realize that he was allways kinda done by USO..."

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 07/30/2009 at 11:46 AM

Andrew, thanks for your empathetic POV. Greatly appreciated.
For all those who are still frazzling over Rafa's TVE interview, it wasn't depressing or disheartening, the bit where he spoke about his family problems was quite sad, but other than that he seemed pretty upbeat and determined. Also, more mature and sedate than I've ever seen him.

Posted by Mike 07/30/2009 at 12:13 PM

"I was listening for one year the Federer's mono......."

Always wonder why ... when someone tries to analyze Rafa, a Fed stab is the knee jerk reaction. There are other players out there ... no?

Posted by Stephanie 07/30/2009 at 12:23 PM

The first tennis match I eveer watched was the AO final in 2009, during which I fell in love with Rafael Nadal.

Ever since I have followed what he has done very closely and I pray he plays the Rogers Cup. If you watch the interview every once in a while it shows a clip of him training and I honestly don't see how if he's training so hard how he can't do it.

What really opened my eyes in the article was "He could meet Federer's ante and complete his own career Grand Slam in 2009, which would certainly make this one of the most extraordinary of years in tennis"

I had never thought of it this way before. But yes what a year it would be. So let's hope that this great guy gets what he deserves, a chance to compete, and hopefully win.

Posted by beth 07/30/2009 at 12:37 PM

Pete - line that struck me the most - as sheer genius
in its truth and simplicity
"Brushes with mortality, especially for the very young, are never easy "

What ? Vin Scully retired ? I am crushed . He IS the Dodgers
These guys that have been announcing the away games truly are boring . No wonder the Dodgers are struggling these days

oh , Tim , I admit - if I were younger - I would do much more than "mother " Rafa - but as he and my son are approximately the same age - it is not to be :)

Posted by Sherlock 07/30/2009 at 12:43 PM

"Anyway, if I'm not careful, I'll experience a dangerous sweetness overdose"

LOL! We'll never let you live that down, manuelsantanafan. :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/30/2009 at 12:48 PM

Game Lover:

Regarding Pspace's comments on injuries, I was somewhat confused by his wording.

My feelings are as follows. They may coincide with PSpace's, in whole, or in part.

I find postings and discussions about people's injury experiences, such as yours, enlightening.

However, many Kads often try to diminish the accomplishments of players other than their paladins, by saying their favorites were injured.

For example, some Rafakads have said that Federer's recent Channel Slam wasn't that impressive becuz Rafa was injured and/or didn't play. Some Fedkads have sniffed at Djokovic's 2008 AO title or Rafa's 2008 success, becuz Federer reportedly had glandular fever.

I don't agree with that kind of thinking. You've probably heard the saying that "injuries [and sickness, I would add] are part of the game.

That seems to be the predominant thinking in the NBA, NFL, and major league baseball.

Perhaps that is what PSpace was getting at.

Posted by VC 07/30/2009 at 12:59 PM

I actually thought Pspace was trying to suggest that it is possible to acknowledge the impact of injuries without taking any credit away from the eventual winner. Same way as it is possible to say, if A beat B, B had a bad day at the office (if it applies) without taking any credit away from A. eg. Djokovic beat Federer at Miami, but it doesn't diminish his accomplishment to say that Federer played horribly because you can only beat what's put in front of you.

So yes, what manuelsantanafan said above.

Posted by Carrie 07/30/2009 at 01:05 PM

Re the comment about some fans wanting to mother Rafa. I will admit that is true for me. I am pretty free on saying who I am...physically attracted to here (for those not in the know- the tops include Pico, Ferru, Zonger and Youzhny and many, many others as I am shallow). But Rafa- I have felt a great affection for and investment in for ages. And not because of his looks. But because for some reason I just really want to watch out for him and I cross my fingers that he does well. I have a real mama bear attitude about him- perhaps the most intense that I have ever had about a sports person. So while I think he has grown into a handsome young man- for me there is nothing sexual about that- it is more like seeing your newphew become a model. Does that make any sense?

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 01:13 PM

I really don't think that it matters too much why we are drawn to one person or another. It is probably all down to that little thing called chemistry and nothing more.

Posted by tina 07/30/2009 at 01:24 PM

Here's how I see Rafa's problems, and it's a completely personal take on it. Most of you know that I have dealt with recurrent brain tumor over the past 16 years and am currently dealing with my second recurrence since I discovered TW about 4 years ago. I understand completely what Rafa is talking about; his mental game is at least as strong as his physical game, but every time he must come back from an injury, he loses perhaps only a little, but nevertheless part of that will to compete, to fight. "little by little it destroys you", he says.

Tennis ain't cancer, but I really do understand how garnering up the will to fight in and of itself can be exhausting. My own "mental game" is remarkably strong, too, but repeatedly facing the same opponent and sometimes having setbacks can hamper even the strongest among us.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/30/2009 at 01:43 PM

Tine,

I know what you are saying and I hope you know that many people are remembering you in our thoughts and prayers. Even in cyberspace.

Posted by GeoffB 07/30/2009 at 01:54 PM

I enjoyed the article, a lot. But Pete, did you write the burb on the main page, with the link, the one that says Nadal enjoys being the "scrappy underdog?"

Minor point, but I think "scrappy underdog" isn't an especially good description of Nadal. He's definitely a fighter, and works for all his points, so I can see why someone might apply that phrase. But I always took "scrappy" to mean someone who takes down more talented players by fighting and using every last shred of everything he's got to win.

I think Nadal's power game goes waaaay beyond scrappy. He may not float like Fed, but the amount of spin and sheer bludgeoning forvce Nadal brings to the game makes "scrappy" seem like a poor fit to me.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/30/2009 at 02:00 PM

EJW talks about the mothering thing in Strokes of Genius. :)

it's not necessarily a conflict between "want to keep in hideaway cottage tied to a chair/have wicked way with" and "want to give motherly hug" though, is it? I'd happily do both. But perhaps I am just sick and twisted. ;-)

Tina - I think a lot of us are thinking of you. Good luck.

Posted by tina 07/30/2009 at 02:29 PM

Thanks guys - I honestly didn't mean to depress people further, but I've always thought it was a given that Rafa's biggest asset wasn't his imposing physicality, but his mind and attitude.

And I gotta join GeoffB. I think of Nadal as neither "scrappy" nor an "underdog". He had a pretty strong period as the top dog, which included defeating you-know-who on grass and hard courts! So, he couldn't defend at Wimbledon this year, and bowed out surprisingly early at RG - but I could never see him as an underdog.

Posted by rafadoc 07/30/2009 at 02:29 PM

Tina: Thanks for your insights. Good luck in your current battle. Thoughts and prayers are with you!

Posted by Nam1 07/30/2009 at 02:48 PM

carrie and jewell, I know exactly what you both mean ,the "lock him up in a secret cottage" part sounds good!!

He seemed really grown up in that interview, we forget how young these guys are and a few months can make adifference in attitude , body language.

We are lucky to live in an era with 2 such great examples of sportsmen, I can really enjoy tennis with my kids.

When I was growing up,there was Mac and Jimmy, brats both of them and Lendl, no brat but not the most likeable...

My parents always qualified every tennis match we watched with
" dont behave like them on a tennis court"!!

Posted by cliffie 07/30/2009 at 02:51 PM

John C,
I have to laugh when people describe Rafa's style as if he lumbers around the court...
Watch him on "iso". His footwork and quickness is amazing. His coordination is a thing of beauty.
On the issue of the tendonitis - his previous case had been BELOW the knee - patellar. THIS case is ABOVE the knee, so it is not exactly the same tendonitis.

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