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In Charleston in Pain 04/18/2010 - 9:25 AM

Dinara

by Bobby Chintapalli, TW Contributing Editor

Remember when you didn’t need a medical degree to talk about tennis? When bandages weren’t a girl’s best friend? When tennis player Dinara Safina actually played tennis? Those were the good, old days, weren’t they? Long ago my journalism professors discouraged starting an article with a question, so I suspect they would have advised against starting with four. Yet I can’t think of starting an article on a topic chock full of questions any other way. And while we’re at it here’s another one: What on earth is going on?

Pulling Out

Certainly not tennis for players who retired from the Family Circle Cup in Charleston this week. What can I say about poor Caroline Wozniacki and that fall in her semifinal match against Vera Zvonareva yesterday that you didn’t see played and replayed on TV a million times? Ouch!

Olga Govortsova retired with a left knee injury and Ayumi Morita and Elena Vesnina with a left adductor strain. Marion Bartoli pulled out with a condition that won’t make us pull out a medical dictionary though it might make us raise an eyebrow – dizziness. Victoria Azarenka, before she flew to Chicago then Rome and tweeted desperately to everyone for a flight to anywhere, pulled out of Charleston with a left hamstring injury she got in Marbella.

Other players also not playing much tennis include those who withdrew before the tournament even began:

- Sybille Bammer (Achilles injury)
- Kateryna Bondarenko (Left knee injury)
- Dominika Cibulkova (Right hip strain)
- Casey Dellacqua (Right foot injury)
- Alisa Kleybanova (Plantar fasciitis)
- Viktoriya Kutuzova (Back injury)
- Sabine Lisicki (Left ankle injury)
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Foot injury)
- Maria Sharapova (Right elbow injury)
- Serena Williams (Left knee injury)

And the tennis players who are “lucky” enough to play tennis, aren’t lucky enough to do so without bandages. Watching matches at the event for four days I saw only two or three players who weren’t wearing bandages at some point. They could be to aid recovery, prevent injury or just provide “support” – the point is, these days they’re always there. Singles finalist Vera Zvonareva still wears an ankle brace a year after injuring her right ankle in a horrible fall at this tournament last year (though she said yesterday she feels like she’s finally fully recovered); she eventually ended up getting surgery and tumbling out of the Top 20. And the other finalist, Sam Stosur, casually mentioned that she sprained her ankle last week.

Figuring It Out

So what is going on? Well, a few veteran players have some ideas.

Patty Schnyder, who turned pro 16 years ago, pointed to the greater depth of the game: “[The] competition is really tough. The top level maybe it’s the same, but it’s like the density between 10 and 40, 50 that’s really improved a lot in the women’s game. So you don’t get many free rounds and easy rounds to warm up. You really have to be sharp… in the very first match… that takes a lot of energy.”

Nadia Petrova, who turned pro 11 years ago, cited the increase in power and the number of tournaments played: “First of all, the level of game is getting higher. It’s getting more powerful, and you really have to push yourself further in the matches, and that creates some kind of injuries. But then a lot of girls are playing way too many tournaments and they just don’t have enough time to get the body some rest and work on some fitness so they stay stronger.”

Vera Zvonareva, who turned pro 10 years ago, thought scheduling was part of the problem: “The schedule is very tough for players. Right now it’s pretty much the same schedule for everybody, but everyone is different. Everybody has different level of fitness, different bodies, different results, different amount of matches that they played in the previous weeks. So it is very difficult to manage and schedule it. And sometimes you’re forced to play a lot of events when you’re tired, and that’s most of the times when injuries are coming, when your body is not fresh.”

Another possibility may be the length of the off season. Tennis’s off season seems rather short compared to other sports. Surely there are other factors too.

But if something doesn’t change, that can’t be good for these young, young players, fans or the game both love.


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Posted by Ruth 04/19/2010 at 09:03 AM

Samantha: Don't fall into the trap that has caught some our our fellow TWibers of expecting Caroline's game to be her best possible game at age 19. A few years ago, a Danish tennis buddy from my old tennis forum asked me to be sure to go and see Caro when I went to the USO that year. I saw most of her first round match (I think she played Cornet), and it was all whacking offensive shots from both of them standing at the baseline and scaring the folks in the front the two rows of bleacher seats with their hard and fast shots. :) I'm sure there were many people muttering about those women ballbashers who know nothing about defense.

Then, a couple weeks ago, all I've been hearing at TW is criticism of Caro for too much defense, moonballing etc. I say that, in spite of Wozniacki's very good results, her game is still evolving. And I, for one, am willing to wait to see the final version of this clearly talented 19-year-old's game.

Posted by lurker (aka sokol) 04/19/2010 at 09:47 AM

Tarpishev still can't leave for US because of the flight situation in Europe. Also Shamil doesn't see a point of Pavlyuchenkova to make a trip now as she won't have time to get used to the time difference, surface... He's trying to "work his magic" on Vera since she's in US at the moment...

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 10:40 AM

Sokol,
I hope Shamil can convince Vera to play like he did Elena as the volcanic ash is really disrupting international travel. Now, I hope Mary Jo can convince Venus and/or Serena to return to action earlier than planned. Venus scheduled for Stuttgart per SEWTA website and Serena at Rome.

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 11:26 AM

By the way with a record of 16-3 during the USA spring portion of the tour with a title at Ponte Vedra Beach, Caroline Wozniacki became the first player with 20 wins. Seem like Caroline likes to play her best tennis in the United States.

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 11:34 AM

Caroline USA record as of now:

Memphis 9-4
Indian Wells 12-4
Miami 9-3
Ponte Vedra Beach 11-1
Charleston 7-2
Los Angeles 0-1
Cincinnati 2-2
New Haven 10-0
United States Open 10-3

Overall record 193-79 (71%)
USA record 70-20 (78%)
Outside USA record 123-59 (68%)

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 11:43 AM

Rafael may not play Barcelona due to his knees. If we have anyone who can speak or read Spanish, please confirm link:

http://www.marca.com/2010/04/18/tenis/masters_1000/1271598103.html

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 11:56 AM

Congratulations to Rafa fans on his MC title. Six in a row is cool and obviously it's been quite a drought for him and his fans, so it must feel good. Commiserations to Verdasco fans as he seemed to only be a shell of the guy that beat Djoker. Sucks when that happens.

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 11:57 AM

"Rafael may not play Barcelona due to his knees"

Hmmm. That's interesting. His knees looked just fine in MC. I think JCF, Ferrer, and Verdasco can attest to that.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/19/2010 at 11:58 AM

MA:

In the Marca article, there is one sentence that says (loosely translated): Rafa will go for his sixth title at Barcelona if his knees allow him to do so.

No information in the article suggesting that his knees are currently hampering him.

There may be some additional useful information in the 570-plus comments on the article.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 12:02 PM

MA - That article alludes to knee problems in the headline, but doesn't go into any details. There was another article (linked on Tignor's latest thread, maybe?) saying that Rafa was going to have some medical tests to determine how the knees were doing.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 12:07 PM

Oops, see that MSF beat me to it. :)

I think (hope?) it's more of a precautionary measure. *fantasizes about a world in which Team Rafa proactively manages his schedule to prevent/minimize rather than just respond to knee issues*

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 12:10 PM

Manuelsantana Fan and Sblily,
Thanks for the interpretation of the link.

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 12:13 PM

sbliliy- I am on your train of thought. Maybe they just want to make sure he remains healthy. Plan proactively to prevent health problems rather than just reactively as a result of health problems.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/19/2010 at 12:14 PM

sblily pointed out the subheadline which I missed, which loosely translated says: Rafa's participation in Barcelona is up in the air due to problems with his knees.

That, of course, is more serious than anything stated in the main body of the article.

However, it is poor journalism to have that kind of language in a subheading, then provide no supporting information in the main body of the article.

Posted by lurker 04/19/2010 at 12:17 PM

Nadal will not defend his Barcelona title
http://www.lavanguardia.es/deportes/noticias/20100419/53911179527/nadal-no-defendera-el-titulo-en-el-conde-de-godo.html

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 12:23 PM

lurker - Thx for link. Sounds precautionary ("[Nadal] ha decidido no arriesgar sus maltrechas rodillas...").

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 12:25 PM

I do wonder if Rafa's withdrawel is more precautionary though. If he does have chronic tendonitis then after a week of play it may be aggrevated- even if movement is not hampered. I am looking at the bright side and thinking this may be more proactice, prevetnative scheduleing- the kind that a number of folks have said that he has needed for quite a while.

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 12:26 PM

Oh my goodness- sorry for the typos.

Sorry to keep echoing you sblily. :) But maybe team Nadal has finally gotten the memo that smart scheduling is the way to go.

Posted by Andrew 04/19/2010 at 12:31 PM

Morning, all.

Smart thinking by team Nadal, I think. Three weeks in a row of going deep in tournaments was always going to be a big ask.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 12:31 PM

Hmmmm I don't know what to think about Rafa missing Barcelona. Us RafaKADs aren't exactly shy about berating him for scheduling, so I guess it's good that he's being cautious...But the (large) frazzly part of me is thinking that Rafa reeeaallllyyyy loves Barca, so I can't see him taking a pass if he wasn't pretty concerned about the knees.

*consciously joins sblily and Carrie in probable fantasy world of non-scary cautious Team Rafa decision making*

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 12:33 PM

Carrie - We can only hope. Gotta say that the idea of NOT gnashing my teeth over Rafa's scheduling is both unfamiliar and mildly disorienting, but one I could get used to.

So if he doesn't play Barcelona, Rafa would have at least a week off between tournaments leading up to RG, right?

Posted by lurker 04/19/2010 at 12:34 PM

Albert Costa: Nadal has time till Wednesday to think
http://www.as.com/tenis/articulo/albert-costa-nadal-sigue-cuadro/dasten/20100419dasdasten_6/Tes

Posted by Andrew 04/19/2010 at 12:36 PM

If the report on Nadal is confirmed, it substantially increases the likelihood that Djokovic will go into RG as the no 2 seed.

Posted by Jai 04/19/2010 at 12:49 PM

If this is a precautionary measure, it's the most sensible thing Team Nadal has done in a while. It's important to go into Rome relatively fresh. Ranking points should be low-priority for him just now.

Posted by Bobby 04/19/2010 at 12:51 PM

Ruth, your Wozniacki comment at 9:03 was enlightening. I guess "this too shall pass" applies to tennis too, huh? As it should. Hope you're well!

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 12:54 PM

Well, Rafa looked just fine in MC, so if he is indeed pulling out of Barcelona, I would think it is just smart clay scheduling - finally.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 12:57 PM

Andrew,
That must be it, Rafa wants to make sure he has a chance to meet Roger before a potential RG final ;-)

Seriously though, I hope it's precautionary. I've been reading about it since early this morning but haven't been able to find confirmation anywhere.

Posted by Anna 04/19/2010 at 12:57 PM

I was wondering why on earth he would go to Barcelona. I believe Nadal really likes to play- remember last year how he waited till the last moment to say he would not play in Queens and Wimbledon, and he seemed REALLY disappointed, as if he was forced to?
Maybe finally his team got some sense into him.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 12:58 PM

Alexis,
You can't be sure though. He certainly looked fine but that doesn't mean there isn't something bothering him. From my competitive school days I remember many a match I won playing in pain.

Posted by Anna 04/19/2010 at 12:59 PM

I was just looking at the BArcelona scores- it seems DeBakker vented for his 6-0, 6-1 loss last week with a 6-0, 6-1 over Alejandro Falla!

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 12:59 PM

"Seriously though, I hope it's precautionary"

I don't know how it can be anything but 'precautionary', Tfactor. I mean he just cruised in MC and had no issues whatsoever yesterday.

Posted by Anna 04/19/2010 at 01:01 PM

The withdrawal is confirmed, it is on the Barcelona website now

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:02 PM

"I remember many a match I won playing in pain"

Yeah, me too... but I didn't win them 6-0 6-1 - even with Verdasco playing like crap.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:03 PM

Alexis,
He had problems since Miami 09 with his knees (I knew about it first hand from relatives in Spain who follow him closely) but he kept on playing and winning tourneys.
You are just assuming he's Ok by what you saw and while I hope you're right, none of us can't be sure.

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:03 PM

You know, despite being a precautionary deal... maybe Rafa just wants to celebrate? Who can blame him?

Posted by CL 04/19/2010 at 01:06 PM

Saw this in the NY Times - to misquote Mr. Springsteen - "Have a little faith, there's magic in the night - you ain't so young, but hey you're all right..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/sports/tennis/19open.html?ref=sports

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:08 PM

Tfactor... I'm not trying to dismiss Rafa's ongoing tendinitis - it is something he will deal with the rest of his career. But he just steam-rolled to a title and personally, it would be nice for his knees not to come up yet again. If for nothing else, then to not make JCF, Ferrer, and Verdasco feel completely inept. I mean, let's not give Tigress even more fuel for the 'spanish minion' argument! :)

Posted by Jai 04/19/2010 at 01:08 PM

I like the wording of Rafa's withdrawal. Based on this, it seems to be a case of prudent scheduling:

In a message relayed by his communications manager, Rafael Nadal declared, “I am really sorry not to be able to play in Barcelona, more than any other tournament, but this year after the win in Monte Carlo my body is asking me to rest...I have said on many occasions that the tennis calendar, specifically the clay court season, is badly structured and my not being able to compete in Barcelona is a consequence of that."

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:10 PM

Good for you, Rafa. Taking a page out of Fed's scheduling book. If your body tells you to rest, then rest.

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 01:13 PM

Jai- I also like rafa's wording. He does have a chronic condition (that other players can have too) and he needs to handle it if he wants to last. I think the lightbulb may finally be going off in Team Rafa land. I don't think he was hampered at MC- but I think he does have to schedule smartly. If he played MC and Barcelona- that could end up hampering. Better to be cautious and schedule smartly leading up to RG

Posted by Jai 04/19/2010 at 01:14 PM

"I mean, let's not give Tigress even more fuel for the 'spanish minion' argument! :)"

Alexis: heh. Maybe she'll interpret this withdrawal as Rafa repaying his "Spanish minions" for their cooperation by allowing them a serious shot at the Barcelona title!

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:14 PM

Alexis,
I didn't think you were dismissing anything, I was just wondering how you could be so sure, that's all. And I don't know why the 'knees' are such a big issue for Fed fans, honestly.
And please let's be real, those you mention don't need anything from anybody to come up with their usual nonsense which so many other Fed fans here support and applaud.

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 01:16 PM

hee Jai! Now with Rafa gone I think I am rooting for JCF, Ferru, Belluci or Almagro. Is Nando playing? Maybe him too.

Posted by Ruth 04/19/2010 at 01:16 PM

Hi, Bobby. I'm going through a crazy-busy period that I hope shall, also, soon pass. :-) And, as I said in a comment the other day, it's always nice when I'm able to take a break and come to TW to read wonderful posts like yours from Charleston, match calls for matches that I missed seeing or following live, and comments from the TWibe.

Andrew: Call me perverse, but I like the possibility of having Roger and Rafa meet before the final at RG.

Re: Rafa's skipping Barcelona...I think that, even though Nadal loves Barca, as GB said, for some reason he feels a greater need to play Madrid (which I don't think that he cares about as much as he does Barca). Fear of angering the mustachioed one, perhaps????? LOL

Posted by CL 04/19/2010 at 01:17 PM

Interesting about Rafa and Barcelona - I know that Rafa fans have said that they thought he would 'never' not play there. So the fact that he is skipping it would indeed indicate that either a.) his knees hurt or b.) that sane scheduling has finally won the upper hand. Maybe a bit of both, at least drawing from his own statement.

As a Fedcentric fan, I also wonder how this, and the Djoker going out in the semis in MC, (as well as early outs for both ND & Fed in Miami/IW), affects, if at all, Fed's #1 ranking/points situation? Too mathcentric for me little brain.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:17 PM

"I like the possibility of having Roger and Rafa meet before the final at RG"

I do too, Ruth :)

Though I have feeling some Fed fans don't feel the same way, hehe

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 01:18 PM

I don't really think it's possible to make such certain declarations about a stranger's health, based simply on watching him play tennis...I hope it's precautionary, but- given how last minute it is, EPG, and Rafa's love of Barca - it doesn't seem outrageous to think about whether he has some new reason to worry (even if it's just increased pain).

I very much doubt that Rafa, being Rafa, *wants* to forgo his home tourney and not play to celebrate.

Jai: that does sound precautionary but he'd be cagey anyway. Also, that was about as non laborious a tourney as Rafa could have hoped for in terms of court time, so it's kinda strange, no? I mean, if he'd had Rafole Madrid version 2.0, it'd make more sense that he made such a last minute decision.

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 01:19 PM

*Though I have feeling some Fed fans don't feel the same way, hehe
*

This Rafa fan doesn't feel the same way. :) I like them on opposite sides of the draw.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:20 PM

GB
"I don't really think it's possible to make such certain declarations about a stranger's health, based simply on watching him play tennis"

Amen

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:21 PM

Carrie,
Ok I will add Rafa fans to that sentence then ;-)

I'm a fan of both and since it's been so long since they've played each other, I will take a meeting at whatever stage of any tourney :)

Posted by Game Lover 04/19/2010 at 01:23 PM

Good for Rafa if he skips Barcelona!

What can he do with the condensed clay schedule, with Madrid being agressively promoted and having RG in sight as the major milestone this year?


He did say about 2 seasons ago, that "he proved that the clay sequence of tournaments is impossible to be played", so he has to be even more cautious now, after a bad setback due to more persistent injuries.

Posted by Game Lover 04/19/2010 at 01:25 PM

GB: But also some of us are familiar with injuries and conditions like tendinitis and such...

Posted by Ruth 04/19/2010 at 01:26 PM

" [Nadal]Taking a page out of Fed's scheduling book. "

I'm so glad that Roger took a page out of Venus and Serena's scheduling book of the 90's. It's too bad that that had to happen (having a Federer do it) to make it finally acceptable and respectable for players to pay attention to their bodies and brains instead of listening to what their fans or tournament directors or business managers tell them they must do. Better late than never, I always say.

Thanks, Vee and Ree! :-)

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 01:30 PM

*head to desk* From the twitterverse (courtesy of James LaRosa):

"Meanwhile, Nalbandian reportedly also out of Barcelona as well as Rome with a 4-inch hamstring tear. Mercy."

Posted by TeamNadal 04/19/2010 at 01:30 PM

I like the wording of Rafa's withdrawal. Based on this, it seems to be a case of prudent scheduling:

In a message relayed by his communications manager, Rafael Nadal declared, “I am really sorry not to be able to play in Barcelona, more than any other tournament, but this year after the win in Monte Carlo my body is asking me to rest...I have said on many occasions that the tennis calendar, specifically the clay court season, is badly structured and my not being able to compete in Barcelona is a consequence of that."

ITA Jai!... don't repeat the mistakes of last year.....I want nothing more than to see him in his best possible form leading up to RG.

Posted by Jai 04/19/2010 at 01:33 PM

"Also, that was about as non laborious a tourney as Rafa could have hoped for in terms of court time, so it's kinda strange, no?"

GB: now you're making me slightly nervous! But really, I don't think the ease with which he won MC should be a factor here. Most likely he just isn't too confident going into Rome after already playing for two straight weeks. The Italian Open is the second most important tournament of the clay-court season, and a fresh Federer and most of the rest of the top 10 will be playing there. Quite possibly there will be psychological battles to be won or lost, in the lead up to RG.

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:34 PM

Oh no, that's not good news about Nalby... when it rains, it pours :(

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:35 PM

Tfactor, obviously none of us are in Rafa's inner circle, and none of us fans can ever know the real truth surrounding a player's fitness. All I'm saying is it would be nice for Rafa's knee issue to not keep coming up - especially after the guy just tore apart the field on clay!!! LOL.. our favs' injury/illness woes come up often enough when they lose, let's not make a habit of it when they win! Especially when they win easily!! :)

As for whether knee-gate is a big issue for Fed fans. Well, probably no more than mono-gate was for Rafa fans.


Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 01:35 PM

Nalby can.not.catch.a.break. Ugh.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis, 2010 USO Champ!!!) 04/19/2010 at 01:37 PM

OMG, Nalby is OUT?! WTF, seriously $^&@#@&*#Y@T#(@(*)(#@#^@#!!!! that is all...

Ooh and count me in as a Fed fan who doesn't care when the Fed has to play Rafa, hail I'd count myself as obnoxiously confident...speaking of the arrogant SOB, where the hail is he?! Dude, seriously no shanking in Rome...

Anyone know when next Ernie is playing?!

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 01:38 PM

I think LaRosa had it wrong - other sources are saying that the tear is 4mm (not inches).

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 01:40 PM

Jai: Not meaning to spread the frazzle:) I get that the lack of extended matches at MC shouldn't interfere with prudent scheduling and that playing three weeks in a row is too much. But it's just, why decide on Sunday night/Monday morning? Why pull out so late, citing fatigue from the tourney when there was so little court time? To me, the timeline suggests a trigger, that's all. Which doesn't necessarily have to mean anything terrible - KADs have been talking about how much more knee sensitive he is (understandable so!) so it could 'just' be that they feel more raw.

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:41 PM

That sooo sucks for Nalby! That guy cannot catch a break!

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:41 PM

"obviously none of us are in Rafa's inner circle"
Talk for yourself.

I've never had any issues discussing players' injuries/illnesses but at the same time never excused any of my favorites because of it.
As for Rafa fans and mono, I can't speak for all Rafa fans just those I know who have never been obsessed with Roger's health or anything about him actually.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 04/19/2010 at 01:41 PM

La Marca is saying that the tear is ~4cm and that Nalby will be out of Rome as well. :(

http://tinyurl.com/y8x6wgx

Posted by Tfactor 04/19/2010 at 01:43 PM

Anyway, I have to get back to work.
Hope all the injured both in the ATP and WTA get better soon.

Posted by highpockets 04/19/2010 at 01:44 PM

Good point, Ruth. The sisters have taken a lot of flack for their scheduling decisions, but their playbook seems to be working for them.

I too like the wording (thanks Roger) of Rafa's announcement via Benito. "Rest" is exactly what is needed when you have tendinitis. It doesn't matter how well he played in Monte Carlo or how the other players will feel ... it's managing his injury and playing well enough to compete with the top players. You can't please ALL of the people ALL of the time. You have to be true to yourself.

Bravo, Rafa, for a very smart decision. I'm sure the Barcelona tournament will respect his decision.

As for Madrid, we will see what's happen. Besides, who gives a rat's behind what this dude thinks:

http://www.umbluliber.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ion_tiriac.jpg

Posted by Hart 04/19/2010 at 01:45 PM

>>I think LaRosa had it wrong - other sources are saying that the tear is 4mm (not inches).

Umm, a 4 inch hamstring tear would be like, 'holy sh!t, is his leg still attached?!?!?! And did someone catch the tractor that ran his leg over??" :)

4 cm sounds more correct :)

Posted by crazyone 04/19/2010 at 01:45 PM

I honestly think Rafa is finally getting around to doing what he should have started doing years before, and that is paring down his schedule...good decision.

So sad for Nalby though, just when he was getting started again...

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 01:47 PM

"I can't speak for all Rafa fans just those I know, who have never been obsessed with Roger's health or anything about him actually"

Same for me, but in reverse. Rafa rarely crosses my thoughts.

Posted by Ruth 04/19/2010 at 01:49 PM

GB: I'd bet/guess that the newly sensible Team Rafa had pretty much decided that if Rafa went past the quarters (or the preceding round) at MC, he'd skip Barca. But it just wouldn't have been "appropriate" for him to announce a withdrawal before the end of MC.

(Jennifer Capriati used to do stuff like that, and she got a hard time from fans and the press about it: "Whaddya mean you can't play next week when you're playing so darn well this week?!?!?!)

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 01:49 PM

"let's not make a habit of it when they win! "

Let's not mandate how people are allowed to feel/behave when new news about their fav comes to light. Just scroll if it bores you.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 01:53 PM

*sadface for Nalby* So he'll only have Madrid before going into RG:(

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Save the Knees!) 04/19/2010 at 01:53 PM

GB - Try to breathe, okay? :) Rafa didn't say anything about fatigue in his statement and last-minute withdrawals from tourneys aren't unheard of.

It's bad that us Rafa fans are so used to him playing such a reedeepkulous (said like Rafa on the US Open Series bus) schedule that a decision to not play 3 weeks in a row (i.e., schedule himself like a sane person) leads to its own kind of frazzling. :/ ZOMG, Rafa's NOT playing a tournament!!! What's wrong?! *gnashing of teeth and rending of garments*

Posted by crazyone 04/19/2010 at 01:54 PM

Beckham: Ernie's playing in Barcelona.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 01:59 PM

Thanks Ruth and sblily. It is the true that Rafa has possibly ruined me for reasonable reactions to rational schedules:)

Posted by Nam1 04/19/2010 at 02:00 PM

The "rest my body" comment sounds like someone finally talked some sense into Rafa.

If he wants to be in good rhythm for RG, he must play Rome and Madrid and for years his fans have been saying it has to be Barca or Madrid that he must sacrifice.

I also think he really wants to win Madrid this year!!

Posted by Ruth 04/19/2010 at 02:08 PM

++As for Madrid, we will see what's happen. Besides, who gives a rat's behind what this dude thinks:

http://www.umbluliber.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ion_tiriac.jpg ++


Oh, Mme HP, now you've gone and done it! That devil man is going to get you...and I was so coming to depend on reading your great poems every now and then! Apologize quickly, please! Say you didn't mean it! LOL

OK, back to the classroom for me until 4:15. See you all later!

Posted by ack 04/19/2010 at 02:08 PM

"As for Rafa fans and mono, I can't speak for all Rafa fans just those I know who have never been obsessed with Roger's health or anything about him actually."

So much word on this, Tfactor!

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 02:11 PM

"let's not make a habit of it when they win! "

Let's not mandate how people are allowed to feel/behave when new news about their fav comes to light. Just scroll if it bores you.
_______________________

Please GB... get a sense of humor! Obviously I was making fun of the fact that we KADs go overboard on reasons when our favs lose so...(BTW, here's where you are supposed to laugh) - let's not make a habit of if when they win!

Geez...

Posted by Wendy Grossman 04/19/2010 at 02:12 PM

Daily Tennis (to which I contribute and whose Twitter feed I manage) has long held that the rising injury count is due to the fundamental change in the rankings system in 2000. Until then, losses counted - in the old days of average points per tournament, early-round losses brought down your average. Now, the ranking system rewards quantity over quality, and you can erase poor showings by playing more events and doing better at enough of them.

The other issue, which I remember seeing predicted in the 1980s as hard courts began to dominate, is the increased amount of hard courts and, of course, the fact that the players, especially women (who mature physically at a younger age than the men) start so young. A 16yo man in general is not going to be physically mature enough to compete with the 23-25yos (Chang and Hewitt being the only exceptions I can think of); but the women's tour had 16yo number one players (until the age restrictions came into effect).

I don't think the situation is going to change until they change the ranking system to encourage behavior that protects the players' bodies. And unfortunately the tours devised the system they have in order to try to get the players to play *more* and at the times and places the sponsors are paying for, which have little to do with the players' best physical interests.

Note that the injury situation is not good on the men's side either - Nadal missed a bunch of last year, and Davydenko and del Potro are both injured now. And there are many others further down the rankings.

wg

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 02:13 PM

Highpockets,
Be nice to the Evil Blue Lord. Mr. X. will get you for that :)

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 02:23 PM

I think alot of injury woes have more to do with better equipment and the kind of pace, etc that the strings/racquet generates. Just look at how much faster and more physical the game itself is now than it was 10-20 years ago. And there are no 'easy' rounds any more. Like Rod Laver said, you could kind of 'coast' up to the 4th or QF rounds. Not anymore. With all that physicality, it's tough to play week in and week out.

Posted by Mr Rick 04/19/2010 at 02:33 PM

Oh boy, sigh of relief - Rafa withdrew from Barcelona! In Rafa's presser yesterday, he said last year he won at MC but didn't play well, but this year he said he played really well at MC (as well as won). Bingo! Sounds like the perfect time to take a rest to me!

If he plays really well in Rome, I also hope, hope, hope he also withdraws from Madrid.

It's become crystal clear this past year that for Rafa, a healthy body equals confidence, and he can't win big tournaments when he is not playing with confidence. No matter how strong he is mentally, there is only so much even he can do when his body isn't working. I am sure he will pretty much do anything form now on to avoid the pain and misery he went through last year; it was a really crappy time for him.

And high five to to Rafa for getting through this past year in any kind condition; not all people and certainly not all athletes can get through these kinds of setbacks and unhappiness.


Posted by Mr Rick 04/19/2010 at 02:38 PM

.. and wait til Aussie Marge sees that Rafa withdrew from Barca - she will do cartwheels all the way from Australia to RG

Posted by Carrie *¿Dónde está el Elfo? * 04/19/2010 at 02:41 PM

Truth be told- I would actually not mind if Rafa just played Rome before RG. But I do wonder with him having skipped Barcelona and Madrid being a mandatory tournament if he will go. Oh well- better ¾ than 4/4 leading up the RFG.

But I have to say- I never thought I would be so thrilled to hear that one of my faves withdrew from a tournament as I am with Rafa pulling out of Barcelona. It does make me think that something has finally clicked in the head for team Rafa!

Posted by Master Ace 04/19/2010 at 02:44 PM

Mr. Rick,
Agreed about Aussiemarg celebrating the schedule decision. We should know within 3 hours.

Posted by Or 04/19/2010 at 02:44 PM

Regardless of the reason, smart desicion from Nalby.

Can't they give his spot to Roger? Slowest clay ever, tournament without Rafa, I'm really worried about him getting started on clay in Rome after playing what? 10 matches all year long?

Posted by ack 04/19/2010 at 02:48 PM

Definitely the best decision for Rafa. I was worried when I first saw this on twitter, but now I realize it was part of an overall plan to fix Rafa's schedule.

Remember what he said in his press conference in Miami (after beating Tsonga):

Q. Ian Tiriac said this week that he doesn’t understand why you don’t play Madrid. The tournament will continue to be a great tournament without you. What’s your opinion?

RAFAEL NADAL: Ian Tiriac probably doesn’t know if I play Madrid, or not because it’s in my schedule, so…

Q. When you take a decision if you played Madrid or not?

RAFAEL NADAL: I play Madrid. I told you before. I said Madrid is in my schedule. Probably or Ian Tiriac don’t know about my schedule, or you understand bad from him.:-)

Posted by highpockets 04/19/2010 at 02:54 PM

Carrie,

You're right. It is so worth keeping my laptop open just to see AM's reaction to Rafa's decision.

As for Tiriac, the guy just gives me the willies.

Stay tuned for "Toothgate." :)

Posted by imjimmy 04/19/2010 at 02:56 PM

I believe there were some rumors in the Spanish press about Nadal having knee pain in MC too. And obviously it was pretty bad in Miami, as can be seen from the cursing and slapping the knees in the Roddick SF.

As I said before, Nadal's intensity and fitness are dropping as the matches progress. The first time I saw Nadal winded in a match was in Miami 2005 where he lost a 5 set final to Fed. His fitness has been supreme ever since for 4 years. At least until this year when (I think) he ran out of gas against Davydenko in Doha, Murray in AO, Ljubicic in IW and Roddick in Miami. It's quite possible that his knees are hurting with longer matches, which affects his confidence and intensity.

So I think skipping Barca is a wise step from Nadal. I would want him to skip Madrid too, but I guess that won't happen. Anyway let's hope that the knees are ok for RG, that is surely the most important thing.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Save the Knees!) 04/19/2010 at 02:57 PM

The twitterverse is reporting that Berdych is also out of Barcelona (ankle injury). :(
Hope it's just more sane scheduling and not something more serious.

Posted by Beckham (Gulbis, 2010 USO Champ!!!) 04/19/2010 at 03:00 PM

Thanks C1, hopefully he does some damage, the USO is almost here, time is awasting...lol

Ernie FTW!!!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/19/2010 at 03:06 PM

For those of you who want/need a Rafa fix and subscribe the Tennis Channel, that channel will be devoting Six hours today to the Rafa-Coria Rome final where Rafa spent almost as much time on the court as he did during all of his matches at this year's Monte Carlo tournament.

This six-hour block begins at 23:00 GMT, which translates to 7:00 p.m. TW time.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 03:12 PM

Wow. Interesting news. Count me as another rafa fan who is happy he is "listening to his body" and taking a break. Three straight weeks of matches without a break is crazy. And since the yummypuppy seems to like to win these three every year, it really turns out to be 3 weeks of constant competition. Think about it. A major takes two weeks with a day of rest in between each match (except for silly USO). The amount of playing necessary to win these three tourney in three weeks is just crazy. In fact, it's like playing two majors back to back withnobreaksinbetweenmatches. So Vamos Rafa and team nadal. Maybe Barca can move to a new slot on the schedule.

Which brings me to Wendy Grossman's post. The injury count on the atp side is just as terrible as on the wta's. Nalby and Delpotro are out through Rome, Monaco needs surgery and is putting it off until after the french. Gilles Simon is a mess. James Blake is out. I wonder if we're reaching the tipping point? Maybe the governing bodies of the atp and wta need to revisit the ranking issue. Or the number of required tournaments.

Anyway, I'm relieved rafa is taking the time off but it was so much fun watching him back in his sandbox last week that I'm greedy for more. Must.think.long term. And I also want to add, as someone with chronic bursitis in my hips I am always in pain. And if I've been especially active it gets much worse and I get stiff and walk like I'm 80. But most of the time I can function just fine and you wouldn't know it to look at me that I'm in pain/agony. You just keep on keepin' on and don't talk about it. So it's perfectly possible that rafa aggravated his knees and played in pain and still won the tournament. So if it's rest he needs then it's rest he's earned and deserves. I want him to have a nice long career.

Posted by CL 04/19/2010 at 03:15 PM

Beckham - I trust you saw the 2 day old news/pic of Fed on a clay court. Posted both on his FB page and at RF.com Exact location unknown - maybe Switz; maybe Italy?? Maybe the Italian speaking portion of Swiz.?? Wherever...he posted and said he was working on fitness and practicing.

And yeah! Ernsie AND his hair, FTW!

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 03:19 PM

I agree with everyone else that Rafa made a smart decision by not playing Barcelona. But I don't know that I agree that his decision to withdraw needs to be a platform to complain about the schedule:

"I have said on repeated occasions that the tennis calendar, especially this part of the claycourt season, is poorly thought out and not playing in Barcelona, I feel, is a consequence of this"

Barcelona is not a required event, so he doesn't have to play. Just like Federer and others like Roddick opted not to play MC. If you want to play, play. If you don't, don't.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 03:21 PM

Well the rumours appear to be right

Rafa was having knee pain during MC.Well hopefully him withdrawing from Barcelona which is sad in way.Cause he could have made history again.Though he has come to his senses and has listen to his body.Like its only taken how long? lol!

Good Morning Everyone.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 03:24 PM

Mr Rick by the way my days of doing Cartwheels are long gone

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 03:28 PM

Can he skip that horrid Madrid torunament as well.pfft.

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