Interview: Windows of recovery
He defends his arguments (and 2)
Rafa Nadal: “I did not say I would not return to the Davis”
When you are 18 you reach at everything. As time goes by, you have to look for windows [periods of time] to recover. That’s what he needs.
by Neus Yerro; translation by @genny_ss
It is necessary to talk about the Davis Cup. To clarify some things that may not have been properly understood, as his not participation in 2012, and to know Rafa Nadal’s opinion on a competition that, in his view, is losing prestige by leaps and bounds, without forgetting the designation of the new captain, Alex Corretja.
Maybe the announcement of your resignation after winning the Davis Cup in Sevilla was not correctly understood…
It is simple to explain: our agenda, until the decisions necessary to change the calendar are taken, is very tight. And you have to find windows to rest. When you are 18 years old, you manage to cope, but as you get older everything gets complicated. Also the fact of having won four Davis Cup since 2004, essentially with this team… I took part in all four and David (Ferrer) in three. It is very simple, the Davis Cup is a very demanding competition.
But is it not a competition that, in theory, gives a lot?
Only if you win. If not, no. It’s the same old story. Efforts and benefits do not match, there is no balance between them. From the outside people might think ‘in the end, it’s only three days…’, but it is not so. For us, it is a week of intense work, in which, probably, there will be a change of surface, with the consequent danger for your body, as it is my case with the knees. You try to make the effort but eventually you realize that you cannot be everywhere. And I did not say I would not play Davis Cup anymore.
It seemed it was interpreted so…
No, it is not so. For now, I will not play the first two rounds in 2012. I need February to rest and after Miami I need to get thoroughly ready for the clay season. And I can not risk it. I feel I need these weeks for me. From the outside everything looks very nice and I hate to have to be the one who always says these things, but that’s the truth [the true ;-)]. The ITF makes very little effort to keep the value that this competition deserves.
With your demands you appear as the ‘rebel’…
I have no need to be it or to say anything. I gain nothing. But I feel obliged to make it known. It’s already been 20 years with the same format, without evolving as it’s been done in other sports. In the end, the only strong point left in their side is to make you feel that this is the only competition in which you defend your country. But do not be fooled. I’ve been playing here in Doha and I’ve defended my country, and so will I in Australia. We are representing our country every week we play.
Are we talking about something like an emotional ‘blackmail’?
A little, yes. They play with this feeling and you feel compelled. And I want to play the Davis Cup because the feelings I live, especially with the crowd, are comparable to none. In Davis Cup I mainly play for the people.
However, the last final must have helped you somehow, must have had something positive…
Of course it has! And I have enjoyed it as never before. The atmosphere that I lived there, I do not know if I will live it again in my whole life. The excitement is enormous. When I was playing the tie break (in the fourth and ultimately final set) I was crying on court, it is the thrill of seeing what it means not only for yourself, but for everybody who is there in the stands. But if the ITF made things easier, the world’s best players would be competing regularly.
When one criticizes you’re often asked for a proposal. What is yours to improve the situation?
A Davis Cup in two years, not to be played every two years but with the rounds distributed along those 24 months, two per year.
But it is unlikely that the ITF ever accepts it because it would reduce the money flowing into their coffers…
Maybe, but the more demand, the cheaper things are. They could increase the rights for television, get more funds from the sponsors and the national associations could ask for more money to the cities wishing to host a playoff because it would not look so repetitive. The less you show something, the more expensive it is and vice-versa. Why are shrimps so expensive? Because there are not that many! Why paying so many millions for the [Olympic] Games? Because I know how much it’s paid. Better not to say it! Only with TV rights, the amount won by the International Olympic Committee is a shame. Why? Because it is once every four years. In the Davis Cup, the only thing they win by having one every year is that the world’s best players do not play… and in this way they lose prestige. But they do not understand it. Oh well…
It was surprising, perhaps, the moment you announced your resignation…
It was so and I think it was right time. We had won. And if I didn’t, we would have the same old story: by the time the first round had to be played, they would say: ‘oh! he’s not playing’. It is already said: I will not play, no need to look for me for the first and second rounds. We could have waited 24 hours, yes, but then you have to make a statement, it is colder. You say it in front of the crowd and that’s it.
What about the new captain?
I have not spoken with him yet, I guess we will meet in Australia but, well, Alex deserves it. He was a clear candidate, as was Carlos Moya, to be Davis Cup captain, as the captaincy comes as a recognition of a good tennis career and an proper behavior.
Today Nadal arrives in Melbourne, where next Saturday there is a must-attend meeting appointed by the ATP. He, as Vice President of the players council, will not miss it.