Everybody’s talking

…about Rafa and his withdrawal from Wimbledon.

Shortly after the press conference, Andy Roddick tweeted:

feel for rafa… could not have been an easy decision especially as the champ, and also considering what a great competitor he is

Contemplating Nadal’s Absence

That match, now in the history books as one of the best played in major championship history, won’t repeat itself. This opens vast possibilities for Nadal’s rivals.

Serena Williams was convinced they were happy.

“I’m a huge Nadal fan,” she said at a news conference. “I’m sure there’s a lot of guys on the men’s tour who were probably celebrating and partying.”

Heee!

“I would have had to have won five matches before I would have had to play him,” Murray said, “so I wasn’t thinking about playing Nadal at all.”

Even so, the prospect of a return encounter — Nadal easily defeated Murray in last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinal, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 — was not off Murray’s radar.

“He’s one of the best players ever,” Murray said. “So, you know, always nice to play against him.”

Then, back to recognizing Nadal’s misfortune, Murray insisted he had not been contemplating a rematch. “I definitely wasn’t thinking about that,” he said.

Of course not. He said he admired Rafa – he knows you only think one match at a time.

In the end, based on Nadal’s insistence that the injury was not career threatening, it was Williams who struck the most philosophical note: “I think it’s sad,” she said, “but he’s extremely young and he has plenty more Wimbledons. And I think that, ah, he’ll be totally fine.”

Oh god. I’m agreeing with Serena Williams – twice. There’s definitely something wrong with the world lately.

Murray has sympathy for Nadal – video of an interview with Andy.

Darren Cahill On Nadal Missing Wimbledon – another video

Losing Rafael Nadal leaves a bittersweet taste for rivals – by Oliver Brown

Federer also tried hard on Friday to sound pained, to roll out some robotic platitudes in sympathy, but when the loss of his principal rival has brought a sixth Wimbledon title several steps closer, it was a loss he could just about bear.

Hee!

Federer was practising on the Aorangi courts when news of Nadal’s withdrawal came through, and said: “I was slightly prepared that he wouldn’t play, so then it didn’t come as such a big surprise. But it’s obviously disappointing for the tournament and for myself. I’d love to play him. He’s my main rival. We’ve had some wonderful matches over the years, the one last year clearly being the one that stands out.

“It shows me how lucky I have been, that I haven’t been injured for all those years. It’s unfortunate. I’m sad for him, because it must have been a very difficult decision to make.”

The elegant diplomacy between Nadal and Federer belies the fact that they have nothing approaching a friendship. Asked if they had chatted about Nadal’s problems, the Swiss replied: “Chat? A 10-second chat, maybe. He congratulated me for winning in Paris. I asked him how his knee was. He was like, ‘It’s OK’. So I knew it wasn’t great, that something could be coming up.”

It’s okay = something’s not right? We need a lesson in translating Rafa from Fed!

Andy Murray had no such advance notice; the first he learnt of the champion’s decision to pull out was just before 8pm on Friday, the same time as the rest of the world. The Scot is even further removed from Nadal’s inner circle than Federer, but his admiration for the world No 1’s game is more heartfelt.

“Everyone would have liked to see him here,” Murray said. “I enjoy watching him play. He’s my favourite player, so I’m sure all the fans who wanted to come to see him will all be disappointed. But he has to do what is best for him.”

Murray did not seize the chance to say that this could be his year; he is too astute for that. To have done so, moreover, would have been grossly premature. The shadow cast from Majorca is vast indeed, and Wimbledon needs the proper time to reflect on its absent friend.

Andy and Rafa sittin’ in a tree…just as long as people don’t give them one of those cutesy names where they combine two names into one. I don’t think I can live with Rafurry. Seriously.

Nadal defeat spurred Murray to greater heights

World number one Nadal, the man he most respects, will be missing because of tendinitis in his knees but Murray is quick to credit the Spaniard with a turning point in his career.

“I actually went away for like three or four weeks after (losing to Nadal) and trained really, really hard over in the States, down in Miami in really warm conditions,” Murray, who plays American Robert Kendrick in the first round said.

“I realised that I was in good shape then. But I lost to someone like Rafa, who’s probably one of the best athletes to ever play tennis. After Wimbledon I pushed on. I just learnt a lot from the loss to Rafa. I realised I needed to get fitter and stronger. I went away and worked on it.”

And no Nandy either.

Federer sad at main rival Nadal’s withdrawal

“We had a quick a 10-second chat maybe,” said Federer. “He congratulated me for Paris. It was good to see him.

“I asked him how his knee was. He was like, it’s okay. So I kind of knew it wasn’t great, because he’s very honest to me. So I knew that something could be coming up.”

Oh. Well that explains it. I guess. Not really.

Knees cost Nadal a Wimby defense – by Greg Garber

When Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Tennis Association’s general manager of elite tennis, heard the news, he sounded down.

“It’s a major, major bummer,” McEnroe said. “I was really optimistic that he was going to play. Obviously, this is much more serious than any of us thought.

“A lot of people were looking to another emotional final with Roger Federer.”

Emotional? More tears?

According to McEnroe, this may change the way Nadal approaches the game on a daily basis — at least, he argued, it should.

“I think Rafa has to come to terms with the fact that spending four, five hours a day on the court has to be a thing of the past,” said McEnroe, an ESPN analyst. “Yes, he’s the king of the world, physically, but his long-term longevity is at risk. He’s having a tough time physically coming to terms with that.

“It’s the same thing [Jim] Courier had to learn. If you take care of your business, you can get everything done that needs doing in an hour and 45 minutes to two hours. It’s an adjustment Rafa has to make.”

I’ve often wondered about this. People always say Rafa plays too much meaning too many tournaments. Could it be that Rafa plays too much as in match time + practice time = overload?

Nadal injury withdrawal prompts concern in Spain

The huge amount of pressure he put on his muscles and joints was in sharp contrast to the elegance of Swiss world number two Roger Federer, Martinez wrote.

But he noted that after missing last year’s Masters Cup and Spain’s Davis Cup triumph over Argentina through injury, Nadal had come storming back to make the best start to the season of his career in 2009.

“Now the hardcourt season is approaching, which is the most damaging surface for his punishing movements,” he wrote. “But watch out if he is able to properly recharge his batteries.”

Indeed.

Neus Yerro, tennis correspondent for the Barcelona-based Sport newspaper, said it was a concern that Nadal had also admitted being at rock bottom mentally.

“Worrying words, because if there is one thing he has excelled at in his career it’s his mental strength, superior to all his rivals,” Yerro wrote.

:(

(Some articles sent in by RC)

25 Responses

  1. SA says:

    What about Randy? Anfa? :)

  2. gundu_nimmy says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about rafa’s mental strength, miri. Understandably, he’s worried about his knees and what they mean to his short term plans and long term career. But, he’ll figure it out, remember “He is NADAL”. Also, remember he’d been through this before once when he had his knee issues in 2004, when even he used to wonder about his chances at french open. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and loving supporting people around him.

    Also, I have more faith in natch’s physio(physical) therapy;) Natch, are u at mallorca already???

  3. Atch2 says:

    Thx for all the articles. I luv reading them.

    Miri, how do u find the time to do it? We all appreciate it.

  4. patzin says:

    From Associated Press article 6/19/2009-
    After shaking up the tournament (after press conference), Nadal sat on a couch in a players’ lounge area, chatting for quite awhile with his spokesman, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, and Djokovic. As it approached 10 p.m. — later, even, than the finishing time of his epic match against Federer a year ago — Nadal finally rose to leave. That trio, along with Uncle Toni, walked toward one of the black steel gates that guard the All England Club’s exits.

    -I read this the other day. I felt a sense of comfort in that Nole was part of the group talking after the press conference, in support of Rafa. It just touched me.

    • Thorfrost says:

      Thank you for posting that, I have long thought that he and Nole have a deeper friendship than has been seen by fans and media, especially as Nole was invited to do the Iker VS Rafa event last year.

      I think we all knew his mental strength was weak at the moment, how many of us fans have picked up on how distant he has been for a long time…when was the last genuine smile from him? I could go right back to IW to remember seeing him truely happy and comfortable.
      I really hope he disappears for a while, he said in one of his interviews on Friday it’s gonna be at least a Month…lets hope he has some real down time that gives him time to build his strength mentally and physically so he comes back 100% ready to play his best…if anyones fans are willing to wait it’s Rafans because we have faith.

  5. loverafa4ever says:

    Really nice to see what everybody had to say about Rafas exit. Murray is a true Rafa follower. One match at a time. :)… newayz… wats the use of saying all this now. Our hero is not playing Wimbledon and we are going to miss him the most than nebody else!

    Thanks miri for putting all dis 2gether!

  6. somarem says:

    I call them Mafa:) as is Murray is Mandy and Roddick is Randy in my head..

    thanks again

  7. nic says:

    what is wrong with these people!?? the phsycological is BECAUSE of the physical!!! darn it. his knees were playing at the back of his mind all this time. obviously that was what was upsetting constantly, and making him feel that his game was not up to mark. and also the reason why maybe the joy was kind of missing from him during some of his tournaments. and of course the french open loss affected him, because he was upset that he was feeling at his physical worst during the most important time of the year! and that that had the detrimental effect of taking him out so early at RG where he knew that if he was fit, was absolutely his for the taking! anyway, this injury does not signal the end of rafa’s career, it’s just a big sign from his body that he needs to give it a break. he will heal and come back strong. i have so much belief that he can come back at the US Open real strong and surprise everyone all over again!! and he’s such a hardworker that he will make sure he’s not only in shape, but that his game is constantly worked on even when he’s on his break and not playing tourneys. Vamos RAFA!!

  8. nic says:

    ” Spaniard Nadal, who beat Federer in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last year, withdrew on Friday with tendinitis in both knees, leaving the Swiss to once again open play on Centre Court on Monday, albeit a little sheepishly.

    “I shouldn’t deserve it this year because Rafa deserves it (as champion) but I am obviously very honoured that the championships chose me again to open the tournament,” Federer, who trails Nadal 13-7 in their head-to-heads told Reuters.”

    *glad fed said that*

    • loverafa4ever says:

      oh wow… der is a tradition like dat? that the champion opens the tournament.. awww.

  9. eliza says:

    Heh. “Robotic platitudes”.

    Would love Nole to win now. Or Andy. Either Andy in fact. Though I will have to have a self imposed media blackout for a while if it’s Murray. Just anyone but Federer*, PLEASE.

    *Except Soderling.

    • killian says:

      I know this is not a site for haters, but PLEASE, ANYone but Fed.

      • natylite says:

        I totally agree. Fed’s 15th (at Wimby no less) + #1 ranking = the official reopening of the Federer Shrine (circa 2005-2007. The media coverage will be horrifyingly over the top (elevating Fed to a God and relegating Nadal to a mentally wounded brutish clay courter). Its not that I want Fed to loose, I just want ANYONE ELSE to win. That’s different, right? ;-)

        • aRafaelite says:

          Don’t worry… Fed’s not going to win it this year. Someone’s gonna seize their chance, knowing Rafa’s not in the running and take Fed out before the final.

  10. Ch F says:

    In my humble opinion, mental strength is the issue here, because apparently the knees will eventually be ok. The only thing that worries me is whether he will be able to play his own natural game once he comes back having been injured; it’s difficult, even if you’re physically fit, not to be afraid deep down inside you that you might get injured again if you start running around the court or fighting for every point. I know he’s been injured before but this one hurt much more because it happened at the worst moment ever. I’m sure he can rationalize, but there’s also some loss of momentum and it’s hard not to think about it once you’re back and trying to find your game again. I hope this depends a lot on his entourage, they need to tell him it’s not so much the way he plays but the fact that he played too much and without any rest.
    As for Roger, I sometimes have the impression he knows he has to say something nice every now and then now that Rafa’s sportsmanship and elegant manners has taken men’s tennis to another level. I’m not saying he’s not nice, it’s just that sometimes he doesn’t sound entirely convincing. That comment about never being injured, better preparation and planning was not necessary, ok we now what you mean, everybody has got the picture by now. Or saying that he’s not about to say Murray is the best player in the world all of a sudden, when asked if he thinks Murray can win. I think Rafa would never say that.
    Sorry for the long message…I had to get it off my system :-(

  11. CC says:

    “I think it’s sad,” she said, “but he’s extremely young and he has plenty more Wimbledons. And I think that, ah, he’ll be totally fine.”

    Serena, thank you! I SO hope you are right.

  12. Alice says:

    Federer always finds a way to bring the conversation to himself. He was asked about Rafas absence not how ‘ g8 ‘ he is wahhhhhhhhhh – he’s absolutely delighted to find Rafa not competing. In his head he’s already won the championship as he thinks he’s the best. Newsflash, no, you’re not, Rafa is the best.

    Sorry everyone but, I hope Djoko, Del Po or Andy R.can pull it off.

    Wishing Rafa a speedy recovery both mentally and physically and can’t wait to see you play again whenever the time is right. Each black cloud has a silver lining and this could be the spring board for a rejuvenated end of season success.

    VAMOS RAFA, OUR WONDERFUL CHAMPION

  13. johanne says:

    “The Scot is even further removed from Nadal’s inner circle than Federer, but his admiration for the world No 1’s game is more heartfelt.”

    I do find Murray’s words to be very sincere. And OMG that video with him talking about Rafa made my heart skip a beat. He totally loves Rafa! I thought it was cute he called him “a good friend” even though the above quote implies they barely know each other. Weird.

    “The elegant diplomacy between Nadal and Federer belies the fact that they have nothing approaching a friendship.”

    Interesting to see that written, considering most media likes to talk about how Rafa & Fed are “such good friends.” Now, I’ve never actually believed they were really good friends, but I DO believe that they are friendly with each other. But I don’t recall ever seeing something phrased quite like that in the press.

    I wonder what Nole’s said about Rafa… hmmmm.

  14. miri says:

    There’s an oft-repeated story about Murray playing Rafa in the juniors and then talking to him about how he trains…and being shocked at how much more training/playing options were available in Spain. He told his mom something like, “He trains with Moya and plays x tournaments a year. Me? I got you and my brother.” So, they went to Spain to train.

    • johanne says:

      I remember someone asked Rafa in a presser once if he was the one who had advised Murray to go train in Spain and Rafa was like “No, no, I didn’t tell him to come to Spain.” He wasn’t saying it in a mean way, I think he was just saying that Andy had made that decision on his own. So this makes more sense, that Rafa probably told Andy about what he does, and then Andy wanted to go there.

    • loverafa4ever says:

      i remember during USO last year, the commentators saying that there is rumor that Rafa asked Andy to move to Spain and practice. Rafa obviously denied that rumor but looks like the inspiration for Andy to move to Barcelona was Rafa.

  15. aRafaelite says:

    This from Tennis Australia’s Wimbledon 2009 preview email (which went out before the withdrawal):

    “Suffice to say, Wimbledon 2009 will miss Rafa if he can’t get his knees right. It’s more than just his crushing ground strokes – it’s his endurance, heart and humility that tennis fans admire him for.”

    Well said.

    It continued: “And, of course, millions will miss the possibility of another chapter being added to the better-than-Hollywood-could-have-produced-it Nadal-Federer rivalry.

    For all of these reasons, let’s hope that Nadal plays.”

  16. Kimber B says:

    Howdy, howdy, I’ve just discovered this site. Needless to say, I love it. I’m a newbie to blogging, etc. (teach an old dog new tricks, eh?), but I can’t think of a better group of people with whom to share my maiden blog. I’d love to hear what you think (I hope I’m doing this right):

    http://sportales.com/tennis/nadals-knees-vs-the-media-machine

    I wrote this last week, in response to what I felt were some pretty smarmy, snarky comments re: Rafa, his knees & his RG results. So I (kind of) snarked back. Enjoy it, critique it, whatever – it was written from the heart.

  17. natch says:

    “It’s okay = something’s not right? We need a lesson in translating Rafa from Fed!”
    You have to look at it from the athlete’s perspective. They always have to put a positive spin on things. First, they believe in themselves. Second, NEVER give away an advantage. Actually, that’s probably the golden rule for athletes. You NEVER, EVER let your opponent and/or the media know what’s going on (in your mind, body, etc.) You always make things sound better than they are.

    Johnny Mac told a great story a while back. I think it might have been at the AO, but I’m old and the memory, she is no good. ;) Anyway, I can’t remember who he was playing, but I’m pretty sure it was a Wimbledon match. He might have even been the underdog. But he said they had both played long matches before the final, and he overheard this particular player complaining to his coach in the locker room beforehand about how tight (i.e., bad) his body felt. Advantage McEnroe. Johnny Mac went out and won the match/final. He knew he could take it to five if he had to because of what the player had said. He had come in feeling awful and thinking he would lose, and came back a champion.

    Roger Federer is very good at this. He gets criticized for sounding arrogant, but what he’s doing is putting himself in a positive light. It helps him, and it often intimidates his opponents. Notice I said “often” and not “always”. He received quite a bit of criticism for putting himself as a favorite to win Wimbledon. He’s won it before, he’s still ranked #2, he just won the French…it would have been crazy for him to say, “Oh, I don’t think I’m a favorite.” Granted, he could have sounded less proud and said he thought he was in the mix, but it could be anyone’s to win. But he’s got to put himself at the top of the heap. If he gets criticized, I’m pretty sure he’ll take that along with the trophy (if he wins.) But that’s his mindset. He’s got to believe that he can beat anybody and everybody. Winners, champions, etc, including Rafa, always have the same *speak*. Rafa’s is a bit sweeter, but his is basically the same. So for Rafa to say his knee is “okay”, not “great” or “ready to go”…that means something. For one athlete to tell another he is “okay” means he is not ready to play.