Foot Fault!

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Rafa flexes his muscles on and off-court in Chile

Yesterday saw the much-awaited return of Rafael Nadal in Vina Del Mar after seven months out, as he and Juan Monaco took to court for their doubles match and brushed aside second seeds Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy 6-3 6-2 with consummate ease. In what will come as the least surprising piece of information ever written, Nadal afterwards fielded questions on the condition of his knee.

“It was a great feeling to play again and I’m very happy for doing it with a friend like Monaco in a great atmosphere that we had on the court. I’m very grateful for everything that has happened since I arrived.”

“I said the first day in the press conference when I arrived and I’ll say it again. Doctors say (the knee) is okay, in terms of image the tendon is fine, no risk of breaking. Some days it still hurts, and I said that for me the fact of playing is a joy and progression to the right path, towards being one hundred percent” he added.

“I need weeks of tennis in the circuit, the knee is stronger, more comfortable playing at the highest level. I will not talk more about the knee.”

More interestingly, however, the tournament had apparently initially scheduled Nadal’s matches during prime-time in order satisfy the sponsors and, of course, earn back the obscene appearance fee he undoubtedly received. His match was to be played at 22:30, but Nadal refused due to the colder conditions possibly affecting his knee or else leading to other injuries. The two camps allegedly entered into intense meetings until the tournament finally succumbed and were forced to schedule his matches for 6 PM.

It’s understandable in this instance that Rafa would want to ensure that the conditions are perfect for his singles return, but this is also a regular occurrence for him and other players in tennis. It immediately took me back to Lindsay Davenport’s comments during her Sports Illustrated podcast last month. She spoke about how terrible it is, as a former player who too benefited from preferential treatment, that the top players hold such power in the scheduling of their matches. Not only would such a thing never happen in other sports (see: MCILROY, Rory), it’s a completely unfair advantage the top players – or rather the top players with influence and power – hold over the rest of the field, amongst countless others.

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4 responses to “Rafa flexes his muscles on and off-court in Chile

  1. dmm February 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    It’s maybe not “completely unfair” that top players get some consideration when you consider that they generally also have more demands placed on them than lower-ranked players (e.g., press/sponsor events, autographs, etc.) and that the only reason he was scheduled for a night match in the first place was that he’s a top player. If it’s disadvantageous to play at night, then top players are disadvantaged by generally being more likely to play in prime time. Nadal would actually be getting closer to equal treatment if you figure that he probably wouldn’t play at night if matches were scheduled randomly.

    I’m also sure preferential treatment isn’t pretty common in other sports, even if it’s not in terms of scheduling (which obviously isn’t nearly as practical in team sports).

    Anyway, I agree that preferential treatment for top players is problematic, but it’s maybe going too far to call every instance of it “completely unfair.”

    • footfaulter February 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Good points.

      What particularly irks me is when players are have injuries or niggles and ask the tournament director to move their matches as far back as possible, whereas lower ranked players or simply those with less influence have no choice but to play whenever they’re scheduled.

      • dmm February 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm

        Thanks for the reply. For sure it’s a problematic issue. I think what annoys me most is that it all goes on behind closed doors. This things need to at least be out in the open so that we can judge for ourselves what’s fair and what crosses the line. I feel the same way about changes in surfaces, balls, etc.

  2. wp signal tracker bonus May 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I only wish that I had the ability to convey what I wanted to say in the manner that you have presented this information. Thanks

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