Rafa withdraws from Doha and the Australian Open

Photo by Beth Wilson

Photo by Beth Wilson

Much earlier today (sorry, I’ve been sick all day), Rafa posted the the following announcement on Facebook:

Mi rodilla está bastante mejor, y el proceso de recuperación ha ido según lo previsto por los médicos, pero este proceso vírico ha hecho que no pudiera entrenar esta última semana y en los próximos días y por tanto, muy a mi pesar no podré reaparecer en el momento que habíamos previsto.

Creo que tal y como dicen los médicos y mi equipo, lo más prudente es hacer las cosas bien y este virus ha hecho retrasar todos mis planes de reaparecer en estos días. Mi reaparición tendrá que esperar hasta el torneo de Acapulco si bien no descartaría la posibilidad de reaparecer en algún torneo antes.

As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks. I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event

My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, but this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open, as we had initially scheduled.

So, sadly, we will have to wait longer to see Rafa back on the tour.

Rafa’s announcement seems to have caused a shit-storm of speculation on Twitter. Many people felt mislead about Rafa’s status. For them, I’m repeating this quote from his interview with Neil Harman for The Times:

“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.”

He said that the knee wasn’t perfect and that Abu Dhabi was a test it might fail. That was before losing practice and physical training time to a bad stomach virus. So, what’s so surprising? Why the feeling Rafa’s trying to hide something? It seems to have been all laid out for those who bothered to read and pay attention.

Do I worry that the longer he’s away the harder it will be to come back, yes. But it’s his body and his career. I’ll trust him to be the best judge of when he’s ready to return. Until then, I’ll wait.

33 Responses

  1. gottakeeprunning says:

    I agree 100% with your closing comment Miri – only Rafa himself really knows when he will be ready. I think his decision is the right one.

  2. ali says:

    Exactly, it is not that surprising – totally sad, but not surprising. You said it perfectly too ~ we need to trust that he positively determines what is best for himself, and if that means more time off, then we will continue to be supportive and wait.

  3. patzin says:

    Only Rafa and his team know how he truly is doing. I trust them to make wise choices about his return; it affects his future. Also Carlos Moya is quite emphatic about Rafa’s will power and drive. He knows Rafa better than any outsider. Rafa will return when the timing is correct for him to compete. So be it.

    Always trust Rafa.

  4. emir says:

    Ohhh what kind of a bad coincidence is this to have a virus after a 6 months of break ??? A kind of virus that steal his whole month.These last minutes pull outs since Wimbledon so damn unlucky no ?? Since the knees getting better,my biggest worry now is he wont have a sore throat before the clay court season.

  5. jodiecate says:

    Very sad Rafa has had to pull out of the Australian Open as well :(!
    Very happy Rafa is listening to his body & giving it the time it needs to fully recover! :D

    Heck, if he’s waited this long already to come back with no problems, he might as well wait until he’s got no problems!!

    Hasn’t played Acapulco since 2005 – guess the South American clay season is a good a place as any to return. Says *maybe* earlier – guess that could mean Argentina or Brazil – although they’re only 250’s. Hmmmmmmm

    Do what you’ve gotta do Rafa. We will wait patiently.
    Of course we will!

  6. Patito says:

    I totally agree with you Miri!! He will know when the moment arrives! And until then I will be waiting and with a lot of illusion that he will come back for many years more!!! Tennis without Rafa is not the same.
    Vamos Rafa!!!

  7. Isabelle says:

    Sorry for Rafa because I imagine he wants to be competing, however I am in total agreement with making sure all his time away pays off and it sure wouldn’t if he came back too soon onto a hard court GS. Of course tennis isn’t even remotely the same without him :). But wait we will!

  8. sia says:

    Oh Rafa … I SO miss watching you play. :(
    Seems smart to start playing on a more forgiving surface like clay so maybe the virus was a blessing in disguise. Acapulco sounds great in Feb to this little snow bird ;)

  9. john f says:

    i miss watching rafa play too but i think this is going to turn out to be a wise choice after all. Ozzie open 5 setters and pressure w/o proper training will be a killer on anyone…and for rafa it does mean he can ease into indian wells, miami and clay court season now….which HAS to be better for his knees…and longevity . Psychologically too expectations will alwasy be on him to repeat performance of last year…whereas he just hasn’t had the match play recovery time. WHo would want to see him bow out early in ozzie open to somoeone fully fit with some competitve matches under his belt (you can name anyone in the top 100 and any of them would love to be able to win over rafa even if he isn’t fully fit.

    Long run this has to be better for him…and so for us.


    • Joel Cooley says:

      I think it will be interesting to see if he still plays Indian Wells and Miami. I know he’s targeted late February to return, but i wonder if he just doesn’t cut his losses and skip the entire hard court season completely, get healthy, and prepare like crazy for the clay court season.

      Selfishly speaking (very, very selfishly i might add), i’d trade all of that, starting with him coming back on clay, then staying healthy all the way thru the US Open. How’s that? :)

  10. Elfie says:

    Poor Rafa! I feel so sorry for him, this virus now on top of the knee, what bad luck!…he must be so disappointed and distressed. But a bit of extra time will surely help the knee and help him regain fitness. So looking forward to seeing him when he finally returns!

  11. Fifi says:

    AO won’t be the same without Rafa but I think this may be a blessing in disguise. I was worried about him coming back on hard courts after being away so long. Much prefer him to return by playing on clay; 250 competitions would allow him to get match practise and confidence before going on hard courts. We must be patient. Hope you get better soon, Rafa!

  12. JayDee50 says:

    Miri, I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said, and you said it perfectly. Let’s not forget too that Abu Dhabi, Doha and the AO were not Rafa’s priorities. Let’s also not forget what happened the last time he entered a GS without being 100% fit – a 2R loss at Wimbledon. Do we really want to see another scenario like that? Absolutely not. Heck we’ve waited this long, what’s another 2 months? All the best Rafa, rest up and get well soon.

    • Reva says:

      Great post JayDee50!! Couldnt agree with you & Miri anymore!!!

      In rafa’s words we have to “accept” the situation & just wait a little
      longer for rafa to be in “perfect conditions”.


  13. Jummy says:

    Awwwwh! It is so nice reading these supportive comments from you, guys. These can only keep Rafa going. Like i said before…”we sure can wait”. It will be worth it afterall.

    Clay sounds good to me; and i know Rafa’s knees are just as well glad he made the decision :)
    Rafa, always praying for you, get well soon and best wishes.

    Rafa Always.

  14. Ruthie says:

    Rafa & his team are doing the right thing IMO. It sounds like Rafa has caught the Norovirus – it has been very bad this year in England. I have had it once and believe me it makes you feel very bad.

    I for one am glad Rafa is not starting his comeback on the hard courts.

    All good wishes for a speedy recovery and God bless.

  15. Tina says:

    You are absolutely right, Miri, and it´s true, that some people jump to some odd conclusions very quickly.
    Rafa and his team know what is best for him, and we are going to respect that without a doubt.

    Hope you will get well soon, Miri, and a happy new year to all of Rafas fans.

  16. Sharon/London says:

    I’m disappointed but not surprised. I didn’t expect to see him until the clay,Acapulco anyway. sufficient Practice is very important and it’s not a good idea to make a return from an injury at a slam.

    However I’m getting the feeling he is scared to come back especially on the hard courts, he fears another Rosol type beating maybe. I’m concerned that when he does return he may get other injuries like in 2009. I hope not.
    All players play with niggles of some sort. The longer Rafa is out the harder it will be for him. Tennis needs him.
    I really do not want to see the 2013 dominated by Novak Djokovic.

  17. Allyn Sims says:

    He started 2011 by playing sick, and it was a mistake. If his knee’s not 100%, his body doesn’t need the added stress of recovering from a virus. I think he’s doing the smart thing. He should come back when he’s ready.

  18. Julie says:

    Yes, it is disappointing but much better for Rafa to do what is best for him in the long run. Like you all, I miss his presence terribly. Acceptance…Patience…No?

  19. Sharon/London says:

    Yeah your both right. As Rafa said he hasn’t pulled out cos of the knees, it’s cos the stomach virus has delayed his preparation so that’s good news I suppose. He will now have 2 months to get ready. Fingers crossed.

  20. Rafafan says:

    Happy New Year from England everybody! Let’s hope for a better 2013 for our Rafa – at least he got his French Open in 2012. First of all my 2 pennies. I have just been watching Eurosport where Rafa was meant to be playing in Doha and they have said that although Rafa is sick with a stomach virus he is training on a clay court today and have shown pictures. Can that be right? I am disappointed but trust what he knows is best but I do understand how the journalists are hounding him with the various contradictions. He could have had 2 weeks practice before AO? No? Was he ever meant to play on a hard court after 6 months out? especially in a five set match? Were they really honest to think that would be the case? Heard Australia is going to be exceptionally hot this year, I am sure they did too. Feel a bit sorry for his fans. Rafa will be back to his true self but whether that would be on hard court remains to be seen – even I am a bit less optimistic. He said himself that he may have to change his schedule. It would be a shame if at the end of his career he will be seen as a clay court specialist again (he may win all the clay court in 2013 including Madrid if it appears on his schedule and the French Open but will he really be recognised as one of the greatest players on all surfaces?). I am baffled why he just doesn’t seem to be recognised for his triumphs. I think that’s why Rafa always said he wanted to win Wimbledon and then achieving all 4 grand slams you would have hoped he has been accepted as one of the true greats! But now he is resigned to start from scratch again on clay and see where his knee leads him. I am not convinced he will play in IW or Miami are you? He has said he is not concerned at being no 1. So maybe as journalists keep saying that clay and grass and intermittent hard court will be from now on until the end of his career? But heah – let’s look on the bright side and whatever we get from Rafa in 2013 we will cherish. xx

  21. Rafafan says:

    PS: Rafa is in the best 25 sports photos of the year!

  22. Ankit says:

    Yea rafa .. take ur time but return with ur confidence .. clay will b d bst to boost ur confidence ..
    just cant wait to watch you cruise to rank 1 :-)

  23. Louyson from Québec says:

    J’espère te voir bientôt jouer en compétition . the world is waiting your return. Go easy at first play Ferederers way. The fact to be back playing will please all your fans we all miss you. You are the gratest tennis player and a gentleman. We love you Happy good year 2013 will be the year for you. Hasta luego champion Vamos Rafa Québec Louyson Québec

  24. Ch F says:

    Happy New Year to all of you! May 2013 bring you health, happiness, love, and lots of Rafavictories.

    I am gutted he won’t play and must admit I was alarmed when I heard the news. Hopefully this is the last withdrawal.

  25. David Constantine says:

    Although I adore RF, tennis is just not the same with the absence of Rafa. Please return when you’re ready. I can’t wait…