Rafa in The Times

Photo by Marc Aspland for The Times

Photo by Marc Aspland for The Times

In today’s The Times (UK), there are a few Rafa related articles. Thanks to @Heatherleatt, we have copies of the articles in pdf format. I don’t usually reproduce full articles out of respect for their creators, but these are behind a pay-wall. (One that, if you subscribe to, it’s almost impossible to unsubscribe and keep them from auto-charging your credit card. That is, if my experience is the norm.) So, I’ll link to each pay-walled article and the pdfs sent to me.

First and foremost is an interview: It will take time for me to be the real Rafa again – by Neil Harman (pdf version). Seems Rafa is still not sure about his knee.

“I’m going to try to play in Abu Dhabi, knowing the knee is still not perfect. The doctors say that the images are very good, so that is a big calm for me, but I still feel something. I need to be careful. I need to be focused on how the knee is getting better or worse every day, and don’t make a mistake that can be negative for my future.

“Not yet do I have the feeling that I am 100 per cent ready to compete, to say, ‘I’m going to go there, I will be ready to run for every ball, to play aggressive, to do what I want with my legs and then try to play my best tennis to win.’

“Today it is not the case, so I really don’t like to be on a court and don’t feel I can compete and run as much as I can and I want, so if that happens I will be changing my mind and will be back in Majorca and will keep practising with my recovery and change to try to play on clay. I don’t want to start with big doubts on the knee.”

I have to admit,that’s not what I wanted to hear after he’s been out for so long. More importantly, I’m sure it’s not what he wanted to be saying. I’m hoping this is his usual cautious self speaking and that his knee does hold up.

“I am a positive guy and I think that I won’t forget how to play tennis in six, eight months. I don’t know when I will be back, but it will take time to come back to my best. I will work very hard to be back where I would love to be. I’m going to play tennis another time, it’s not something I have forgotten how to do.”

This is such typical Rafa: cautious to the point of sounding negative, but positive too.

“I was enjoying more than ever being back in the real competition, because in 2011, although I won a lot against almost everybody except Djokovic, my passion for the game was going down — that was my feeling. In 2012 I was enjoying it a lot more.”

This confirms what, I think, a lot of his fans were seeing, and it explains so much.

“I would love to be that good to change, but I am good because I play this way,” he says. “If I play like [Roger] Federer, I’m not good, that’s the reality. Everybody plays with everything they have, so Federer understands the sport one way, Djokovic another way, Andy [Murray] another way, and I understand it my way.

“I didn’t start playing tennis a few months ago, I started at 3. My style has been always similar, that’s true, but my position on the court has improved, my serve has improved. But the general game you cannot change, the mind you cannot change. I think my way worked well.”

I love this. You can’t completely change your instincts for the game this many years into a career. Yes, you can add things, improve and make small, important changes here and there, but changing the foundation of the game and who you are? No.

“It will take time [to be the real Nadal again]. The people have to know when you are outside of the competition and haven’t played for a long time, you will have problems to come back to your best, but that is the beautiful thing of life — it gives you challenges, and this is another one. I think I have passed a few before with a very positive feeling and I hope that is going to happen again.”

Take note: give him time. He freaking deserves it.

Next up is a commentary piece by Harman: Conversation serves only to heighten the apprehension (pdf version).

They may have to wait a while for complete fulfilment. Nadal is not quite there; he is a little way from being ready to play. He needs to be given him time and space. By the French Open in May, perhaps, the real Nadal will be with us. It will be worth waiting for.

Indeed. (Although, playing well or not, he’s still the real Nadal.)

Lastly, is a piece about Rafa’s leaving IMG: New blow to management group as Nadal jumps ship by Neil Harman (pdf version).

I admit to being surprised by this one, but I don’t tend to follow the business side of things that much. So, perhaps that’s why this seemed to come out of left field to me.

22 Responses

  1. patzin says:

    thanks for posting these articles

  2. robert says:

    “…Rafa’s leaving IMG…I admit to being surprised by this one, but I don’t tend to follow the business side of things that much. So, perhaps that’s why this seemed to come out of left field to me.”

    There have been articles for quite some time that IMG is to be sold out piecemeal, and soon. No wonder Federer already left.

    Matt Cronin tweeted yesterday:
    “Djokovic signs with IMG. Interesting since reputable trade pubs say will be put up 4 sale in 2013 2 satisfy investors who want to cash out”

    • miri says:

      I’d heard about the gambling story (mentioned in the article), but that’s about it. Guess it shows how much I pay attention to the $ side. Heck, my employer even works with one branch of IMG for some things and I still didn’t know. Heh.

  3. Rafa4ever says:

    miri, thanks a lot for both articles.

  4. AbigailA says:

    Hi, Miri.

    The pdf link to “It will take time for me to be the real Rafa again” is not working for me. It appears to point to http://www.nadalnews.com/2012/12/22/rafa-in-the-times/.


  5. Kathy says:

    Thanks for posting these articles. It makes me very sad to see that Rafa seems to know that he is not ready and he seems so unsure. But I would rather see him wait than to injure himself further. It seems we have been missing him for so long and I couldn’t wait to see him on the court again in Abu Dhabi. Well, if it is hard for us, it must be terribly hard for him as he is so competitive and wants to play.
    Prayers for Rafa’s health.

  6. dk says:

    I don’t know why he is preparing for Abu Dhabi (unless it’s because of the participation $$$), Doha or the AO if his knee is not right yet.

    • L says:

      There may be a little sponsorship pressure, so he may need to appease them and show his face especially since he is making progress and is practicing again. However as Rafa himself has stated he won’t risk his recovery in anyway and he’s not gonna push it, also I’m sure his gotten the go ahead from his doctors. I think it’s unlikely he goes to Australia if he has any doubts after Abu Dhabi and Doha.

  7. Fan M says:

    Rafa, please take care. Hope you do we’ll next week. Hope you can assess your level and move on. Rafa, please have confidence! You will Win!

  8. Jummy says:

    @Fan M,
    “You will Win!” Are u joking?? It is not about him winning…I am not saying it is impossible but it shouldn’t be what we expect from him. Our concern as fans should be to hope to see him enjoy himself and know he is playing without feeling any pain. Just as ‘L’ says Rafa is probably just going to “show his face”.

    I think with what Rafa has said, there is nothing more important than him feeling 100% good when playing. Until that time comes, WE NEED TO BE SATIFIED WITH WHATEVER RAFA CAN OFFER (on or off court).

    See you in Abu Dhabi…Just looking into your face and see you move is enough.

    Rafa Always.

    • gatito says:

      I agree. Geez, give some credit to the other players too. He’s been out for a long time and, most probably, upon his return he’ll be “listening” to his knees with apprehension, not thinking about his shots.
      I think that if he can stay with these guys for three (or two tough) sets and the knee holds, it would be a great result already. Then 1/4 finals at the AO would do wonderfully for me: it would mean that he’s recovering nicely and that the others need to worry.
      Now, if he does better than that, heck! I’d probably empty a bottle of wine in celebration :)

  9. sam says:

    Why is it a joke to say “Rafa will win”? If the knee is healed it is just confidence that is required and he will win. He was the best player in 2012 before he got injured so it isn’t a joke to think that he can get back to that position.

    • Rafafan says:

      No, he wasn’t the best player in the first half of 2012! Only on clay, but not on hard court.
      It seems his knee is still not healed! Will we ever see the old Rafa again?? No idea. Maybe he should have done surgery, but who knows?

      “Not yet do I have the feeling that I am 100 per cent ready to compete, to say”

      This makes me feel he isn’t ready yet, and that’s a bad sign.

      • SpanishRNfan says:

        Sorry, but Sam is right. Rafa was the best player in the first half of 2012: As of Jun 26, Rafa was #1 in the RACE with 6,750 points, leading Djokovick (6,120) and Federer (5,085). IF being #1 in the RACE by the end of June does not mean he was the best player in the first half of 2012, I don’t know what it means. Of course, most of his points came from clay, but he also had 1 final (AO) and 2 SFs (IW & Miami) on hard… not negligible at all! ;-)

    • Eva says:

      Nope it isn’t just confidence. There are things about tennis that you can’t practice without playing actual matches. (mostly mental) Plus when you are coming back from injury, your mind is constantly distracted with nervous thoughts: each time the knee or whatever body part seems to hurt, you panic that you have re-injured it. Then you miss your shots. This is why it took years for Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams to get their game back.

  10. sia says:

    Gruesome photo ?!
    Countdown is ON … 4 more days or nights. !!!!!!!!! Nope, not excited at all. !!!!!!

  11. Ramara says:

    Rafa’s being his usual realistic self. Coming back from a long layoff is not trivial. He’ll be at risk for other injuries until he’s match-tough. Look at how long it’s taken Delpo, and I’m not convinced he’s ever quite reached the level he played at before his year off. Now I know Rafa and his team have done everything possible to prepare him and he’s kept in good spirits but it’s not going to be easy! His match in Abu Dhabi will probably be vs Muzz. I do not expect him to win it. Hopefully he won’t really try, just treat it as the exhibition that it is and get some good match practice in, see where he is.

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