Rafa flexes his muscles on and off-court in Chile
February 6, 2013
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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.