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.
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.