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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 aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 08:43 PM

CI I too think having 2 coaches is confusing.Nole to me has made the right decision.

Posted by Alexis 04/19/2010 at 08:43 PM

"And with Barcelona- I do have to say that I have a much softer spot for that than Madrid. Madrid may be a Masters but it also seems to be Ion Tirac's plaything."

Oh...there's no doubt that Madrid is Ion Tiriac's play thing and I must say, I'm not a huge fan of it for the same reason. But it is a required TMS event and that makes it important on paper.

As for the Memphis comment, I knew Carrie did not mean anything against Memphis, per se. Obviously Memphis means zilch to Rafa. And Barcelona means zilch to Roddick (or whomever), etc.

Posted by Peg 04/19/2010 at 08:46 PM

"Of course, the Fed is such a talented shankster he can probably shank with his eyes literally glued on the ball."

CL, you owe me a Coke now. *reaches for napkin to wipe it off screen*

Posted by sod'sfriend 04/19/2010 at 08:47 PM

beth and am, i dont know much about atp drug testing standards and what drugs are considered "dopers." would percocet be considered such? if so, do they have a prescribed list of drugs (for pain, other health reasons) that players can/cannot take?

boy, making millions has its strings attached, too, hehe.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 08:54 PM

Just to go o/t for a minute

The Shark aka Greg Norman is in Love again,to a Aussie woman he met in America

That didnt take long.I wonder what the 2 ex wives are thinking of the news.

Greg make sure your pre nuptial is up to date.

Posted by beth ( we came , we saw , we conquered IW ) 04/19/2010 at 08:55 PM

Alexis - I am sure Memphis was just an example used to illustrate a point here . And yes , it means very little to Rafa - or to Roddick either probably . it's just another indoor tournament in that weird winter indoor stretch after the AO - and before the spring hardcourts .

Not 100% sure of the list of meds that are and are not approved. But Percocet is considered a narcotic - so it would be banned on the list of pain killers . I imagine that Advil, Tylenol , Aspirin or Aleve would be ok to take . They are not addictive in anyway . And generally speaking for tendonitis and muscle pulls , strains , etc - they are the drug of choice for treatment . Well , the Advil / Aleve category is anyway .

Posted by beth ( we came , we saw , we conquered IW ) 04/19/2010 at 09:03 PM

there is a list of prohibited substances that is available from WADA if you google it
There are few surprises . The one that did surprise me was diuretics - but it is banned as they are often used as a masking agent for anabolic steroids - so that makes sense to me.

any stimulants , such as cocaine and many ingredients in OTC cold medications are banned .
and of course , cannabis and all narcotics
many anesthetics also fall into that category .
Tough to comply with these things - need to know what you are taking - all the names are chemical and not generic names , so you would need to read the labels and ingredients of any medication you are taking

Posted by sod'sfriend 04/19/2010 at 09:03 PM

"But Percocet is considered a narcotic - so it would be banned on the list of pain killers . I imagine that Advil, Tylenol , Aspirin or Aleve would be ok to take ."

thanks beth.

these nsaids (ibuprofen(advil)/acetamenphen sodium(aleve)) don't seem strong enough for "serious" bone pain. my doctor prescribed 500mg ibuprofens for me every 4 or so hours as needed for pain after my extractions. they did fine, but i've seen much serious pain that required more than nsaids.

Posted by Peg 04/19/2010 at 09:04 PM

Playing at Memphis only makes sense for players keen on an extended North American swing -- most of the guys there were at San Jose the week before and then Sunrise, Acapulco, and/or DelRay the week after. For many European players, keeping to the other side of the pond for Rotterdam-Marseilles-Dubai-Davis Cup is the far more appealing itinerary. I _was_ a little bummed that Jeremy Chardy was the only French player in the Memphis draw, but with Marseille the same week, so it goes. *shrug*

Posted by beth ( we came , we saw , we conquered IW ) 04/19/2010 at 09:10 PM

Chardy like a melody in my head that I can't keep on - got me singing now - la la la la everyday like my Ipod stuck on replay , replay


sorry - I could not resist
blame my daughter , she started singing that when she saw Chardy and now everytime I hear his name that is what I think of

Posted by CL 04/19/2010 at 09:11 PM

Peg - "things go better with Coke" - sorry about keyboard.

Series of Fed practice photos? What series? I have only seen one.

Posted by eric 04/19/2010 at 09:17 PM

You forget the main reason for complaints about the compressed clay schedule: this compression is a recent thing, it was imposed 3 years ago, i.e. one week was taken away and that was the first time Nadal played 3 weeks in a row MC-Barcelona-Rome. It was the year of the Olympics, which was used as an excuse for the compression, but then it just remained as is. Until then there used to be a week off between MC and Barcelona. Then Madrid Masters on clay was added in between Barcelona and Rome, leaving Barcelona in the lurch squeezed between two obligatory Masters.

Then, there's that ugly thing with Masters - pushing out Hamburg and MC, replacing it with Shanghai (and more concrete).

So yes, clay season was recently majorly f-ed up and players (Nadal in particular) have every right to protest about his "home" tournament Barcelona and the whole clay season. Not in the least comparable with Memphis or Basel or whatever.

It has been announced by Madrid TD Santana that some welcome changes will be done in 2011 - Madrid and Rome shall switch slots, at least to make a more logical sequence of clay types on the way to RG. Yet, the cramped scedule remains for the time being.

Here's hoping that reason will prevail and clay season will get de-cramped and actually more clay (and grass) tourneys will be added, before ATP & WTA grind to a halt with most pros injured.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 09:22 PM

Eric Good point.Blah Olympics which I am against tennis players competing in anyway.

I too wish for more "balance".Though is seems h/courts is the way to go.I mean there is not much up keep for h/courts compared to clay and grass.

I would like to see more grass court tournaments before Wimby for both ATP and WTA

After RG there is like a couple of grass tournaments and then straight into Wimby.A dis advantage for players.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/19/2010 at 09:22 PM

Howdy doodee

Good news about Rafa withdrawing from Barca gives someone else a chance to win the tournament. Oh I would love Pico to win, failing that I choose Ferru or Almagro.

Sadface about Nalby's hamstring tear, though it does not sound as bad as a couple of Aussie Rules players they are out for 12 weeks plus they had to have surgery.

Posted by beth ( we came , we saw , we conquered IW ) 04/19/2010 at 09:24 PM

Did Hamburg get a tournament or any kind of compensation for losing their event time slot ?

Posted by CL 04/19/2010 at 09:26 PM

eric - interesting points. But pity the poor grass court 'season.'

In "Open" Andre A says that the toughest physical challenge - bar none - in playing pro tennis - was changing from one surface to another. Muscles groups who were 'yinging' on clay, suddenly had to 'yang' on grass, and then 'yeng' on hard courts. Compressed or drawn out, those changes in surface, plus bigger, faster players and technical advances that both allow and demand certain strokes and court positioning, are stressing out lots of very fit athletes these days.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 09:31 PM

AA Howdy Doodee lol!

Steve Healy was on our sports radio here.His first aim is to "patch up" meaing to get back Tony Roche and Jason Stoltenberg back here to coach.Clay courts were mentioned Again? lol! though he concurs that they are the basis for anyone learning the game.He will be working with Geoff Pollard till October when he will take over.He is a lawyer and a partner in a law firm which he said he will still continue to do.He was a player on the challenger circuit himself then decided to go to Uni.We shall see.

Posted by eric 04/19/2010 at 09:38 PM

Hamburg is now a 500 event, in July, a week after Stuttgart and Bastad.

Yes, on grass you have to bend your knees way down to catch those vicious low slices, and to run almost crouched, taking short quick steps, so the hamstrings suffer after being more upright on clay a mere week ago. Therefore you could see players warming up differently at Queen's & Halle - much more leg stretching, almost yoga sessions.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/19/2010 at 09:45 PM

AM Gee Greg try spending some time by yourself and your kids.

Great news that Wayno has decided to take a voluntarily suspension.

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 10:08 PM

Hi everybody!

Rafa last news:
Besides that he is not going to play in Barcelona, probably he's not going to play in Madrid neither, just Roma and RG
He says that he wants to take care more with his body and I can see that he wants to reach RG in perfect conditions. Great and smart Rafa!!!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 04/19/2010 at 10:10 PM

Never been to Memphis; but if you're a fan of blues,rhythm and blues, and soul music from the 60s and 70s, I would guess visiting Memphis' Stax Museum would be a good thing to do if in Memphis:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stax_Museum

Memphis is also where Sun Records (now, mostly in the reissue business) got its start. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, the original "Killer" (Jerry Lee Lewis), et al. A rather impressive legacy.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/19/2010 at 10:13 PM

AM I went into the fax room at work and saw the mag which had Greg and his new love on it. I cracked up as I had just read your post.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:18 PM

AA it didnt take New Idea or whoever to get "their story" I wonder how much money he got or they got lol!

Posted by mina (meanie and proud of it) loves Phenomenadal 04/19/2010 at 10:19 PM

thanks for the update Carol.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 10:20 PM

They're doing the blister rebandage right now on TTC. Lots of discussion as to whether is was fair to Coria for Rafa to get treatment during a game. Now they're saying it was inside the 3minute limit. Boy that must have smarted. Ouch. This match is so long they've had to cut parts of it.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 04/19/2010 at 10:25 PM

Carol: That is good news to me - I wanted Rafa to pull out of Madrid more than Barca.

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 10:28 PM

Lynne, me too!!. At the end Rafa is thinking twice, he's learning.....too young

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 10:29 PM

eric @9:17: you said it. perfectly. They've really messed up the clay season and the players are suffering for it.

I still have all these wada questions about the narcotics. So would it be okay to take them if you're recovering from surgery as long as they're out of your system by the time you play again? Or if wada comes to your door 2 days post-op when you're in recovery, do they slap the cuffs on you and take you away? No one has to answer that. I'm just rambling.

So I think the only person happy about rafa pulling out of Barca is darling mina. Now her man RobSod will be the top seed!

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 10:30 PM

Hi All.

Carol: This is the first I have heard about Rafa pulling out of Madrid. Are you sure? I can't believe he would say that at this time.

Beth: Thanks for information on the drugs and Wada. So, will Rafa not take anesthesia for his eventual tooth extraction? What do you think?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:31 PM

Carol I have been hearing rumours of Rafa not attending Mardrid even before he pulled out of Barcelona.I will wait to see that if it does happen though.Glad to hear he has finally coming to his senses.Hey it took sometime lol!

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 10:31 PM

Angel: I would love Pico or Ferru to win Barcelona now! Ferru was in the final last year...maybe this is his year. Should be fun to watch!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:33 PM

Then again I was hearing rumours like imjimmy that he was feeling pain in MC

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 10:36 PM

Carol: is that what the Spanish press are saying? A poster on another site said that they're reporting that it was Tio Toni who really, really wanted Rafa out of Barca, and that he wants him out of Madrid too.

He's holding a presser at Barca today (at noon) , with his doctor. I'm guessing he'll be cagey as usual (he has to be ) but wonder if anything more will come out.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:40 PM

GB I suppose you are in full "frazzle" mode by now lol!

Rafa will always have some pain regardless.I am not going to hit panic buttons.I would have no sympathy at all for him if he took the same path as 09.When it was as clear as day in Madrid his knees were stuffed.

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 10:41 PM

Hi rafadoc!

Yea, he said that, wonderful!!

Here is the article, hope all of you can understand it

http://www.as.com/tenis/articulo/nadal-jugara-godo-aleja-madrid/dasten/20100420dasdaiten_2/Tes

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 10:42 PM

It might just be the rumors that the Spanish press are going on (rather than any direct info from Rafa's camp) as they're prolly as alarmist about the knees as we are by now, but journo Stepanie Myles tweeted this:

"Spanish media report reported "both knees hurting" after MCarlo. And the left one particularly. ;-("

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:45 PM

Carol I need to get back into Spainish ASAP

Well Mr X has been on and he gave no indication of that Spainsih Media report.

Well Spainish media have X ray vision.Good for them.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 10:46 PM

AM: there's no need for the "by now", I'm always frazzling at this point:) it just changes from knees, to lost colm, and back to knees again...

Yeah, who knows what's gonna happen (hopefully the knees will hold up!), but at least by changing his schedule (and doing all that he can from here on out), Rafa won't have to live with any what ifs this season. All that he can ask of himself is that he learns from past mistakes...

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:47 PM

GB I will wait for Rafa's press conference.Though you know he is not going to give anything away and why should he really.

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 10:47 PM

Hi Carol! Cheers to Rafa's victory yesterday! :))

On the article you linked to...just a warning. as.com was the news outlet that reported Rafa would play Wimbledon last year while we were all waiting to hear.

The title of the article said he would skip Barcelona and Madrid, but then in the text, they back off a bit and indicate he might skip Madrid.

I would be shocked if Rafa said he would pull out of Madrid right now. No way.

That said, I hope he does skip it.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:50 PM

GB Rafa's movement in MC was ok.He did have quick 2 set matches though.You can always tell if Rafa's knees are playing up bad.

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 10:50 PM

...and not to harp on it too much...but Rafa really can't pull out of Barcelona, intend to play Rome, and say he is pulling out of Madrid right now.

I don't doubt Rafa had some knee pain in MC...he probably always does, unfortunately.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:53 PM

Pulling out of Madrid which is a mandatory tournament Rafa will lose points and will have to have a reasonable excuse why??

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 10:55 PM

Though next year under ATP rule he can skip one lol!

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 10:58 PM

Rafadoc: yeah to him always having pain:( He himself said that confused the issue last year - always being in pain meant he didn't know where the absolute limit was:( Aus etc showed that he's gonna act earlier from here on out. We really have no way of knowing at what stage he's at...

I hope he skips Madrid as well. Should he choose to, I have to think that pulling out of Barca (his home tourney and one that the Spanish public know he's deeply committed to) would make pulling out of Madrid somewhat easier. It makes it harder for the Evil Blue Lord to insinuate a lack of commitment etc, no?

AM: I agree that Rafa can't reveal much in the presser. He has to keep opponents guessing [which means we have to keep guessing if there's something to be guessing about :) ].

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 10:59 PM

AM: Agree...He can't say he is not playing Madrid right now.

Glad that Rafa is listening to his body and getting rest. He seems to finally get it!

Still so happy about his 16th MS. A year ago I would have had no doubt he would get to that number. A week ago I was still worried he wouldn't. Such a relief.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:00 PM

GB lol! Maybe that is Rafa's ultimate plan to keep the rest of the ATP,fans Guessing

Brillant strategy!!!!!!

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 11:03 PM

GB: Yep-he now knows he has to discern between chronic tendinitis pain and pain that is "acute" and sign of new injury. It is not easy, but he seems to be figuring it out. Thankfully. :)

I keep going back to something Andy Roddick said...that they all deal with knee tendinitis at some level. Not that I wish that on every player in the ATP! It just makes me feel better that what Rafa experiences isn't totally out of the norm.
Cold comfort, I guess.

And, yes, the ATP calendar needs to change and Rafa isn't the only one to complain about it, nor the only one to suffer from it. Just check the injury list right now. Ugh.

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 11:04 PM

Well, I've heard that after playing in Miami and before MC, Rafa got an infiltration in his left knee
Anyway tomorrow at 12 pm (Spain time) he has a press conference and everybody are waiting what he's going to say

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 11:06 PM

Today my TypePad is sooooo slow, why????

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:13 PM

I am not going to flinch every time I see Rafa on court and bend over.He did that in the s/final with Roddick.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:17 PM

Twitter is buzzing with rumors that Rafa used injections re MC, but nothing substantive is being cited. If true, that seems worrying, to say the least...But would he really do all that just to get through MC and risk sustaining further injury? I can maybe see it for a slam...

Posted by imjimmy 04/19/2010 at 11:20 PM

""I would be shocked if Rafa said he would pull out of Madrid right now. No way. ""

I Agree. I don't think Nadal will pull out of Madrid unless he is seriously injured (which of course he could be, but it's unlikely at this point). FWIW I do think that there could be a niggle in his knee that is bothering him, and so he's withdrawn from Barca. He went to Barcelona; he loves the club and he wouldn't skip the tournament unless he really had to. Anyway judging from past history, I am loath to believe that the Nadal team suddenly acquired a brain and started scheduling prudently. We're talking about the guy who made no changes to his schedule this year and played both doubles and singles in IW and Miami, to the point where his knees started acting up in Miami.

Ultimately Nadal is a global athlete at the top of his profession, He and his camp have to put a positive spin on things. There is no way that they will surrender the psychological advantage. No one outside of Nadal's inner circle knows the true state of his knees. We can all speculate, but the fact is that he could break down at the most unpredictable times. I mean who would've thought that he was injured against Murray in the AO '10.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:22 PM

GB This is now bodering on the Hsyterical ok

When one uses say pain injections to get through whatever.The pain comes back regardless and you can still further damage any exsisting damage.

Cause Rafa has pulled out of Barcelona

The Conspiracy Kings are in full flight

I wil wait to see what his press conference is all about.

Posted by Jai 04/19/2010 at 11:23 PM

Hi everyone,
I think Rafa's participation in Madrid will depend on how he does in Rome. If he wins Rome (or reaches the final and loses but is still satisfied with his overall form), it might make sense to skip Madrid. But if he goes out early in Rome (improbable, I know, but stranger things have happened) there's no way he can afford to miss Madrid. Otherwise he'd be going into RG without playing for nearly 4 weeks!

Basically at this point I think his scheduling decisions will be taken depending on how he does and how he feels at the end of each tournament.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:26 PM

imjimmy Thank you for talking sense.Rafa playing doubles was downright insane.I agree his team are now coming to their seneses.Like about time too.I was shocked at the AO with Murray.To me his knees werent right at all.Though he went like a mad man and practise all through the off season though had Christmas day off.Like Go Figure.

Posted by Carol 04/19/2010 at 11:26 PM

OK guys, the article says that *maybe* Nadal wont play in Madrid
If he's playing in Madrid and and he would play the final he get 600 points. If he's not playing he will lose 1100 points.
In Roma defends 1000 points
RG 2000 and defends 180 (remember last year he lost early) so if he wins he get back 1820 points
In Barcelona he will lose 500 points

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 11:29 PM

"No one outside of Nadal's inner circle knows the true state of his knees."

Agree imjimmy...they play their hand very close to their chest, as they say. Which is wise, albeit frustrating for fans.

I don't expect his press conference to be too revealing.

I hope he enjoys his time off and takes some time to savor his MC win. It was a long time coming. :)

Posted by ack 04/19/2010 at 11:34 PM

Rumors abound! I won't be persuaded to frazzle about any of this yet. All I know is that Rafa is not playing Barcelona. The rest is pure speculation until Rafa says it is so.

All in all, great decision not to play Barcelona. Knees or no knees. :-)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:34 PM

Quite frankly at this stage in Rafa's career points mean nothing at all.Also getting back to no 1 is nothing.

Most importanly Rafa has to have a clearer and more suitable match scheduling Period.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:36 PM

"I hope he enjoys his time off and takes some time to savor his MC win. It was a long time coming. :)"

On that more cheery note for Rafafans, here's an adorably emotional post match interview for French TV. The interview starts around the 4 min mark. He has to lift his shirt up (and reveal Rafa tummy!) to wipe away tears:

http://tinyurl.com/y2mdlaq

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 11:38 PM

AM: Yah...points? If he is competitive at the majors, he will be at the top of the ranking. Scheduling himself so he can be competitive in the big events is key.

He has been #1...I want him to win more Masters and Majors. That is the most important thing to me.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/19/2010 at 11:39 PM

OT Last night I was watching tv, prolly Project Runway when an ad for a chick flick came on (the worse genre of film) and for the life of me I can't think of the movie's title but I heard the worse line ever. Guy says to girl 'the only spell I am under, is yours'. I just about threw up my dinner.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 11:44 PM

I can say with absolute certainty, from personal experience, that Rafa's knees hurt all the time when he plays now. And after a week of playing competitively it becomes really acute and he needs to rest. Sure he probably had injections. There's a pic from Miami where you can see where they stuck him with the needle. He's going to be forced to play a week (and 4 times a year, two weeks) take a break, play a week, take a break. Anyway, I'm trying to focus on how happy he was yesterday and hope we see some more of that in Rome. You guys are right that he'd never w/d from Madrid now.

I'm watching this Rome final from 05 and it's just unbelievable. these guys are killiing each other. And rafa comes back to win after being down 0-3 in the fifth? Such a fighter. I've never seen anything like it.

Posted by rafadoc 04/19/2010 at 11:44 PM

GB: Thanks for posting that. Rafa said it was very emotional for him. He cried in his chair too. It had to be a huge relief. What a break through for him. :)

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:45 PM

"He has been #1...I want him to win more Masters and Majors. That is the most important thing to me."

Agree 100% to ranking worries being a luxury of the past. I would flove to see him win more Masters and Majors. More than anything though, especially at times like this, I just want him around, want him playing. That's inextricably linked to winning, though, since he's 'gonna go' if he doesn't 'have chances to win important tourneys'.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:45 PM

AA LOL!! Blah I would have wanted to threw up too.Hubby was watching Rugby League so I missed it.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/19/2010 at 11:48 PM

Ok I forgot that Sods was playing Barca, I've change my mind. Would love a final between Almagro and Sods, not the most popular players around these parts.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:49 PM

GB: yeah. he reeaallllyyy cried in his chair. Not just tears, but audibly and with shaking shoulders. Plus, when he hit the ground, you could see him gulping and taking huge breaks. I flove how much it means to him and am soooo happy for him!

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:53 PM

Okay, someone's frazzled:) Rather than talking to myself, that was meant for Rafadoc. And it was taking huge breaths, rather than breaks

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 11:55 PM

Angel: LOL. that is really bad.

This crowd is going nuts. It's like a Davis Cup crowd. No one can believe what rafa is doing out there. No wonder his fans are so passionate about him. Coria just shook his head in disbelief!! McEnroe's in the crowd too.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/19/2010 at 11:55 PM

AA Hell I must remember to stock up on pins then

David Ferrer for me.The guy has run up to Rafa soo many times in Barcelona he deserves a break.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/19/2010 at 11:56 PM

Pete probably didn't write an article about this match either.

Posted by GB 04/19/2010 at 11:57 PM

Annie: sooo jealous. Wish I was watching!

Posted by Arun 04/19/2010 at 11:58 PM

AA: Sod and Almagro are in the same half. Since the matches have started already, I assume that's how they will stay though Rafa's name hasn't been replaced by a Lucky Loser yet.

AM: Ferrer? You don't want Richie to get a breakthrough win here? ;) Seriously though, I think his campaign will end against Verdasco, his next match. Also, appreciate your thoughtful posts today. as usual.

Posted by rafadoc 04/20/2010 at 12:01 AM

Heehee GB...no more frazzling though! :)

I would love for Ferru to win Barcelona...it is "close" to his hometown. I am sure it would mean a lot to him.

Vamos Honey Badger!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/20/2010 at 12:01 AM

GB: this is the first time I've seen this match. Have you seen it?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/20/2010 at 12:02 AM

Arun Dont scare me like that.Hmmmmm Ritchie needs a break I suppose.I was wanting to win that small tournament before.Okay it seems like I will have to toss a coin then.

Posted by Arun 04/20/2010 at 12:02 AM

Rome'05 Final highlights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvI0ClKPK-w&fmt=18
It was a good match. High intensity; exciting ups and downs. But personally, I thought Rome'06 Final was even better! The best Fedal match, imo. So bummed that Fed lost that one.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/20/2010 at 12:06 AM

Exquisite (pretty sure that's spelled wrong) angles says the british commentator who I do not know.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 04/20/2010 at 12:11 AM

Yeah Arun I am with you Rome 06 was a better match.Griping till the end.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/20/2010 at 12:12 AM

This is when you really wish there could be a tie. You don't want to see either guy lose.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/20/2010 at 12:14 AM

AM If I see the movie ad again I will post. The worse thing is I have friends who would prolly want to go ad see said movie.

GB You need to calm down, athletes play with injuries all the time, taking injections is just part of the course to get them through matches etc.

Posted by GB 04/20/2010 at 12:28 AM

Annie: no, i haven't. Will have to chase it down someday. Thanks for the highlights in the meantime, Arun.


I found these quotes from an interview Rafa gave to Elpais after winning MC to be really interesting:
---------------------
Q. Why? At the end of 2009, you have gone through some bad moments. And before that, in an interview given to this newspaper, you said that the difference between the very good and the champions was a sixth march in the tough moments.

A. I was missing the sixth, the fifth and the fourth too. You have to be realistic. The results were good: SF at the USO with the broken abdominal, final in Shanghai, in tough surfaces. I had maintained a high mental level. That wasn’t what I was missing. I had made few mistakes. That’s what allows you to be at the top. That is what I was dedicated during the end of last year. To fight in every match knowing that I wasn’t well, that things weren’t working. To fight everything that I could. This allowed me to win a lot of matches. Doesn’t look this way but, semis, quarters…Of course they work! It’s a very tough mental work. They help you to be mentally tougher. If when you’re playing badly you get use to losing, it’s a bad symptom. A weakens symptom. I was “tennistically” bad.
--------------------------

"To fight in every match knowing that I wasn’t well, that things weren’t working. To fight everything that I could" is one of my favourite Rafa quotes. So basically, he's saying he was uber aware that 'getting used to losing' was a slippery slope and he fought tooth and nail to win where he could, even though he knew his actual tennis was in trouble.


But, I guess injuries, not knowing whether he could get his tennis back or win bigger matches does still take it's toil:
----------------------------------
Q. It has happen to you this year?

A. You only get over it by winning. Everything falls by its own weight. You don’t have eternal anxiety or bad luck. The important thing is to be at a winning level. I have had to wait 3 months to win the first title. I have waited patiently, working hard. It had arrived in clay and I’m playing very good.
--------------------------

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 04/20/2010 at 12:30 AM

Arun: the 06 Rome final is on TTC tomorrow night!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 04/20/2010 at 01:21 AM

Morning, everyone. :)

Thanks for those Rafa quotes, GB. :)

Apart from initial panicked frazzle, I think I'm glad Rafa is not going to play in Barcelona.

Posted by Peg 04/20/2010 at 01:22 AM

Teimuraz Gabashvili is the LL taking Rafa's place. (Draw not yet updated, but I've seen it mentioned on Twitter and elsewhere.)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 04/20/2010 at 01:23 AM

also: I wish I had Tennis Channel!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/20/2010 at 01:34 AM

O no not you too Jewell lol!

I am having a official Rafa Frazzle Fan Club

I am making GB President!

Posted by zenggi 04/20/2010 at 01:37 AM

Good morning,

Everybody agrees that Rafa's withdrawal is a good decision. That's a first.
Poor Nalby. Hope he'll recover soon.

And De Bakker won 6-1,6-0. Don't get carried away, Thiemo :)

I believe we can fly (again)....

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/20/2010 at 01:39 AM

Jewell That Volcano has erupted again and is sending ash your way

Back here flights are still cancelled

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Just Do It 04/20/2010 at 01:42 AM

Zengii Hi.Back here our flights are still cancelled.

Good for your boy to win.I hope his serve dosent desert him though

Posted by zenggi 04/20/2010 at 01:42 AM

Hi AM,
At last Rafa has listened to you :)

Posted by rg.nadal 04/20/2010 at 01:43 AM

RAFA WITHDREW FROM BARCELONA!!!!????
Did not see that coming. A pragmatic Rafa is nice to see!

Good morning all.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 04/20/2010 at 01:43 AM

Hi AM, Peg and zenggi. :)

Initial panicked frazzle, I said. :) I always wanted him to skip a clay court tournament - more than IW or Miami - and I did wonder if, having defended the MC points and played well, and with Djokovic and Murray losing points ground, he would skip Barcelona. But all the rumours flying around are a bit concerning.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 04/20/2010 at 01:45 AM

OT: There has been an earthquake in one of the mining towns in Western Australia and it registered 5.0 on the recter scale, first in 50 years. Don't know the damage yet.

Also the movie I was talking about is called 'When in Rome'.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 04/20/2010 at 01:46 AM

I am NOT going to talk myself back into frazzling! Bad Jewell.

Posted by zenggi 04/20/2010 at 01:46 AM

Hi jewell and Peg,

We'll have to wait for his press conference at noon today.

De Bakker has Monaco or Gimeno Traver next. Not easy but he is happy.

Posted by rg.nadal 04/20/2010 at 01:49 AM

So any particular reason why he withdrew?

Posted by zenggi 04/20/2010 at 01:51 AM

Hi, Angel
That's bad news. Is planet Earth angry with its children?

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