L’Equipe Interview: No Panic
There’s a nice interview with Rafa in today’s edition of L’Equipe (print only, I think). Moondancer of VamosBrigade has done the difficult translation work. Please visit their site to read the full translation.
A few bits I found interesting.
It’s a settled pain. I could feel it in the morning while getting up and in the afternoon while I’m eating or while hitting a backhand. My first two days in Chili were difficult: I was feeling a lot of pain and I didn’t have one good training session.
I wonder if the lengthy travel irritated it. I have tendonitis in my hip and prolonged sitting causes it to tighten up and be painful. (No, I’m not comparing my minor problem to his, just wondering.)
I’m not afraid because I know in what state my knee is in. Since three weeks, all the tests I have undergone have shown perfect results. The truth is that my left knee is in fantastic shape compared with the other one (laughs). I know now that if I run, I won’t risk torn tendons. That’s “importantissime”. The doctors have promised me that. So, it’s alright, no anxiety. Even if the tendon still gives me pain…
My first thought was that this is a very good new. He must feel confident in his body in order to play confident tennis. My second thought was that I hope his doctors are right. (What can I say, I have a naturally pessimistic mind.)
Q: Being sidelined for nearly eight months, what was the toughest moment?
Rafa: The worst was when I realised that I could not compete in the Olympic Games. At the start, I thought that I would heal quickly. What was difficult is that my knee let go at the best moment of my career.
Q: The best? You’ve won more in 2008, 2009 or 2010…
Rafa: Yes, but in 2012, I really played better. The Australian Open final against Djokovic, even if I lost it, was great. I continued to win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros. I exploded on court.
Not surprising that missing the chance to carry the Spanish flag and defend his Olympic medal is the first thing he always mentions when asked about the toughest time. And I do think that the fact he was playing so well in the first part of the year gets overlooked because someone else was playing well too. There was so little separating them in that AO final.
To lose here (Viña del Mar), pffft, that’s no problem. Seven months of rest, seven months of never being able to practice at full tilt: the logical thing would be for me to lose here. It would only be a drama if my knee would hurt too much.
Sounds like he has his priorities right…as usual.
If my knee allows me to train for longer than three hours per day at full tilt and if I can run without thinking about my knee or the pain, why wouldn’t I be able to do what I did before? The fact that I was playing excellently when I was forced to stop, is helping me right now. The memory (of those good sensations) is really fresh.
There’s that good, positive acktitude! I’m seriously glad that the injury didn’t become critical until after he turned the tide in his matches against Djokovic.
In regards to Wilander’s comments that Rafa won’t be a favorite at Roland Garros this year:
Rafa: Good. Alright. We’ll see. It’s true that I won’t be the favourite in Paris but I don’t need to be in order to win.
Which is the perfect reaction to that. I know Wilander’s comments upset a lot of Rafa fans, but even with Rafa’s clay records, it’s nearly impossible to declare someone a favorite when they haven’t played a match tournament in 7 months. Much less played a in a super pressure-filled slam.
Q: After the recent finals in New York, Melbourne, some – among which Marian Vajda, the trainer of Djokovic – have said that this is the start of the Djokovic-Murray era. You have an ego. How does it take this?
Rafa: My ego is calm. (laughs). It doesn’t bother me to hear that. It’s not wrong. It’s correct at the moment, isn’t it? These are two superb players who have played the last two grand slam finals. It would imply and end to the Federer-Nadal rivalry one but who knows. I’m only one year older than Djokovic and Murray so perhaps now is not the time to bury me. Eight months ago, I was in an excellent position to become world number one again. Let’s not forget to quickly. Now, I will try to nudge myself in that Djokovic-Murray era (smiles).
I look forward to watching all that stubborn nudging.
His comments on the current doping trial going on in Spain are, I think, spot on. They should be doing everything possible to have Fuentes name names for all the athletes he treated, not just bicyclists.
Q: Do you know that some people think that your 7-month absence is due to a silent doping ban?
Rafa: Yes and those rumours exist because those doping tests are not made public. The ITF needs to be transparent. Same with WADA. If not, it will continue and I will be forced to have to hear the stupid comments Christophe Rochus utters without any evidence. It’s incredible to me that something like that gets published without any evidence. Give me evidence and I’ll be okay with it.
Q: The ITF says that the blood tests are too expensive and that…
Rafa: (interrupts). You know what is costly? The bad image of the sport. That’s what has a high price.
A very high price. And I agree on making the results public. It still won’t quiet the doubters 100%, but transparency is a good thing.
In regards to the ATP cracking down on serving time, Rafa feels there should be some flexibility after lengthy or particularly taxing points or the next point will suffer and be full of errors.
They tell me that those changes are made for the tv public, but don’t you think that those people watching tennis on tv would prefer beautiful points being disputed? No?
I would say so – after all, that lengthy match that caused the ATP to start enforcing the rule more strictly (2012 AO final) was voted one of the best matches of the year by those TV viewers.