Interview with Dr. Cotorro

Photo by Beth Wilson

Photo by Beth Wilson

Rafa’s doctor gave an interview last week and given all the questions that have been swirling about his recovery, delay and then sudden re-emergence in the practice courts, I thought it might be worth paying attention to. But…it was in Spanish and I’m stupid. So I asked Genny for some help. Here’s her sum-up of the interview.

¿Qué tipo de virus tiene el Rafa Nadal?

This interview to Dr. Cotorro took place last week (Dec 29). It is quite long and now I don’t have enough time to make a transcript (and a translation) of the full audio, thus I’ll just make a summary of it, pointing out Dr. Cotorro’s most interesting comments.

Around 3:20, Dr. Cotorro is asked what kind of virus Rafa has and which has had so bad effects on him. His answer: stomach virus with gastroenteritis. He points out that Rafa has had quite a hard time and the effect lasted more than usual. It is normal to have fever for 1-2 days, but not all the bodies react in the same way and Rafa had it for 4-5 days. He then proceeds to describe the process (around 3:48): Rafa already felt bad the day of the dinner with his team (Dec 20), the following day he had high fever that lasted 3-4 days. After the tests carried out, he had to rest during the past week. Rafa is feeling better, but one thing is to feel better and a very different one to compete.

When asked how this virus affects performance, Dr. Cotorro says that even in normal conditions (with game rhythm, training regularly and with no injury), this kind of virus weakens you (he calls what happened to Rafa in 2011, when he got the flu in AD, played under the weather in Doha and, without a proper recovery, ended up retiring in the AO QFs with a muscle injury). If, in addition, you’re in a case like Rafa (6 months without playing, within a recovery process, with tight deadlines to get in good shape) things are even more complicated.

About the required treatment, he says it’s a regular symptomatic treatment. That is, you first address the fever, then you look for replenishing fluids and a diet. Recovery is not questioned. The problem has been the bad timing to catch the virus. Two or three weeks ago it would not have messed up plans so much.

For how long does he have to be under treatment? When will he be OK? – The number of days with fever determine the pace and length (6:34): “Once the fever is gone, he needs this week [remember interview was last week] to recover. Next week [same cautionary comment as before], if everything goes normal, he will start practicing in a progressive way. All in all, it will be 10-12 days without activity and it means you have to start all over again”…(6:56)

How’s Rafa’s mood? – At the beginning it was very hard for Rafa, but he’s now feeling better because he can see the knee is better and the finish line is near. As for how he feels about what has happened now, certainly it is not the best news, as it delays the return 3-4 weeks, but it is problem that has a solution.

Can Rafa be physically at 100% short term? – Cotorro thinks Rafa will reach his best physical form as soon as he starts playing according to the planned schedule because he had been following a really positive recovery process, both physically and injury-wise. Rafa has been following a progressive treatment system for the last two months and the evolution was the right one.

If not for the virus, would Rafa be ready to play tennis? – Everything was set up to play in Abu Dhabi (without much pressure), then in Doha (to gain some match time) and finally there was one week left to prepare the AO.

How long will it take for us to see Rafa, “the winner”? – It is dificult to say. From a physical point of view, 2-3 weeks ago, he was already very well. Tennis wise it is difficult to measure. For a player like Rafa, who already had a good progresion, he will be OK physically in a couple of weeks and he will be able to practice in a progressive way, and within the planned schedule, to get to the next event. Afterwards, he’ll need just matches.

For how long will Rafa still be an elite player? – Cotorro thinks that Rafa still has a lot to say in the tennis world and has no doubt we will see the Rafa of old again. Patella tendinitis is an uncomfortable injury but one from which sportsmen recover at 100% (he’s treated many sportsmen with it and all have recovered).

Is this chronic or can his patella tendon recover and never suffer again? – Rafa’s current injury is not chronic: he’s had a partial tear in the patella tendon (which is what has delayed his return). However, once recovered from this tear, the tendon goes back to the situation it was before.

In which percentage is Rafa’s knee OK? – When you have planned to play Abu Dhabi, Doha, AO it is because that percentage is very high. Too bad that five days before the exho in Abu Dhabi he catches the virus and he was still with fever 1-2 days before… Before that happened, he was in conditions to compete.

12 Responses

  1. dk says:

    Thanks Miri and Genny for this. Nothing like getting it from the source.

  2. Fifi says:

    Thank you for this. Sounds like he had, what we call in the UK, the vomiting bug. Bad timing but hopefully he’s on his way to a full recovery and although I’m desperate to watch him play, willing to wait for him on the clay! Thanks again for the translation!

  3. Melissa says:

    Thank you, Genny and Miri. This is very useful information, and I can only wish that it had got the media play that uninformed speculation received with the AO announcement. It is very, very heartening to know that his knee is doing so well and that he was well on his way to returning. Such a shame that he caught so virulent a bug, but perhaps it was for the best.

    Again, my gratitude to you both. Vamos!

  4. Lynne says:

    Thank you so much for the translation! I can read Spanish and understand it ok, but these sorts of interviews are the most difficult, so muchisimas gracias! ;-)

  5. Liz Hayhoe says:

    Thank you for the translation & keeping us updated on whats going on with Rafa; you are the best site for Rafa news and acurate updates. I really hope there are no more setbacks for him and he can return to his beloved clay as planned x

  6. gottakeeprunning says:

    Thank you for this synopsis Genny – yes the stomach flu has been rife both in the UK and also in Mallorca. I for one have never disbelieved him. Anyone who has ever had gastric flu knows how bad they felt and how long it took them to feel “themselves” – that is just running a “normal” way of life – and I don’t think anyone of us here is truly aware of a professional athlete’s way of life and training! Some of us take a week off and we have a desk job!!!

  7. Susanna728 says:

    Thanks so much for the translation. A shame that they have to keep explaining that if you’ve had a high fever and a severe stomach illness you’re going to be very weak for a while. Not so hard to comprehend – We’ve all been there. I just read an article in the NYT about Hilary Clinton’s condition. She also had a lengthy gastrointestinal illness (not to mention the concussion and blood clot) but what I didn’t know was that some in Washington accused her of faking her health problems too! What is it these folks? (Not intending to start any political discussions – just noting the parallel that, no matter what the arena, some opponents will stoop to anything.) Very glad to hear that Dr. Cotorro thinks Rafa’s knees can recover 100%.

  8. Sharon/London says:

    I have been in bed since friday with the same thing and I have felt awful. Today is my first day up and im still not feeling 100%. Rafa made the right decision to delay his return and let his body recover from the illness.

  9. Jummy says:

    @ Sharon/London,
    Oh poor you!… Sorry you missed all the new year excitement and all. Wish you a full recovery and have a wonderful 2013. I wish the same for Rafa.
    xo :)

  10. jodiecate says:

    Big thanks Miri & Genny, great to have all that explained!
    Good to hear the tendonitis is not chronic & can recover 100% – don’t think i have understood that before, i thought it was an ongoing problem. Very happy to hear it!

  11. Sharon/London says:

    Thank you for your kind words. All the best to you for 2013.

    I believe Hilary Clinton caught the gastro illness in Europe while on a business trip which led to dehydration then the collapse which caused a concussion and blood clot. A sequence of events that went from bad to worse (the same with Rafa) but some people are to quick to judge rather than find out the facts first. All the speculation and insinuations flying around it gets to the point where team Nadal have to make a statement as obvious and repetitive it may be.

  12. Ch F says:

    So Rafa’s injury isn’t chronic? And is 100% curable? This is a good new, no?