Rafa Returns And The Expectations Are… ?
by Sean Randall | February 5th, 2013, 12:42 pm
  • 79 Comments

February is usually a pretty dead month in pro tennis, but thanks to a certain man from Mallorca that’s far from the case this year. After seven long, often agonizing months, Rafael Nadal finally returns to tennis this week in South America as all eyes in the tennis world will be focused on a tiny tournament in Vina Del Mar, Chile.

Nadal, who’s been battling a bad knee since Wimbledon, was on track to make his comeback at the start of the year in Australia, but an alleged stomach illness put the kibosh on those plans. Now, even despite reports that his knee is still not 100%, he’s back. He made trip. He’s on site. He’s playing!

Because of a singles bye, Rafa will actually play his first pro point of the year in doubles tonight when he and Argentine pal Juan Monaco take the court against the second-seeded Czech team of Cermak/Dlouhy.

Doubles, you say? Maybe the knee isn’t such a worry afterall?

The real fun comes tomorrow when with the world watching, Nadal meets either Guido Pella or qualifier Federico Delbonis. In this first match back situation, Nadal likely won’t be tested, which should launch his comeback in best possible way, with a rousing win! But what can we expect thereafter?

Over the next four weeks Nadal is smartly scheduled to stay on clay, playing Sao Paulo and then Acapulco to round out this Latin swing. He’ll meet presidents, dine with dignitaries, conduct clinics, parry questions from the press and get a practice in here and there. And I’d be surprised if by the end trip he doesn’t have two more titles to his name.

If things go well he’ll then move onto the hardcourts for Indian Wells and Miami. It’s an ambitious schedule for Nadal because knee injuries like Rafa’s really never go away. Speaking from experience, you have good stretches and then bad. That’s the reality. That’s his future.

The good thing is Rafa does begin his comeback on clay which is much easier on those damn knees. And the level of competition he’ll initially face is marginal, so he’ll have the opportunity to gradually work his way back into some kind of form. In Chile the next highest seed is Juan Monaco. In Sao Paulo he’ll have it a little tougher with Nicolas Almagro and David Nalbandian, who’s also making a(nother) comeback, in addition to Monaco. And at the end of the month is Acapulco where he should be nearing his highest level and where he’ll finally face some real challenges from David Ferrer plus Stanislas Wawrinka and Fernando Verdasco.

Rafa should also benefit from any long, physical matches like we often see when he plays rivals Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray or even Juan Martin Del Potro, because those guys aren’t playing those events. That, however, changes significantly next month when Rafa returns to the hardcourts at Indian Wells and Miami. And I think he’ll be lucky to play both.

The biggest concern I have right now with Rafa is that if his knee is still not 100%, how is it going to get any better playing three clay events? Medically, joint issues like tendinitis do improve with activity, however just walking around the neighborhood is a far, far different stress than playing a best-of-3 pro tennis match!

So unless Team Nadal is downplaying Nadal’s knee, I just don’t see how Rafa finishes this swing with a healthier knee, one that’s hardened for hardcourts. And if there’s any hint of continued issues, why chance it with the crucial spring clay season just around the corner?

Therefore I have my doubts. I hope I’m wrong because having Rafa around is that much better for the tour and the sport, but unfortunately I just don’t see this ending well. It could very well be rinse and repeat come July – he’s so frail when it comes to his health anyways. But until that day comes – and it will – at least we get to enjoy Nadal a little longer.


Also Check Out:
3D Federer Opens Estoril Play Wednesday; Madrid Next for Nadal
Ahead Of French Final, Novak Djokovic Admits To Sudden Bout Of Fatigue, But Says It’s Nothing Serious
Serena Williams, Nadal on Deck: Tennis-X Predictions
Murray Hyped for Federer v Isner US Open Match-Up
Djokovic, Murray Eye Rematch While Hot Federer Faces Stan; Wimbledon QF Picks And Pans

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get Tennis-X news FREE in your inbox every day

79 Comments for Rafa Returns And The Expectations Are… ?

jimmy Says:

Rafa’s problem is he needs ranking points, if he runs the table on clay he can just about cinch a #4ranking, if he falls below that he night get Novak, Roger or Andy in the quarters.

All his points from last year are clay, except a few on grass.


jimmy Says:

With the French, three Masters and some minor events he can get about 6,000 rating points on clay alone.


subo Says:

rafeal nadal more excuses every time he loses my toe hurt my ass finger knees leg give me a break he is on the juice should be drug tested a lot where are the vemin in the press


nadalista Says:

@jimmy says:

“……..if he falls below that he night get Novak, Roger or Andy in the quarters.”

Put another way: Novak, Roger or Andy might get Rafa in the quarters.


jimmy Says:

Maybe they should let him win Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome. Lol.


Humble Rafa Says:

I get 6000 points from playing on the most wonderful surface known to man. So what?


RZ Says:

Keep in mind that the grand slams don’t have to seed players based on pure rankings. Even if Rafa dropped out of the top 10, I can’t imagine Roland Garros would seed him lower than 4.


Humble Rafa Says:

Even if Rafa dropped out of the top 10, I can’t imagine Roland Garros would seed him lower than 4.
—-
Four? Jesus!

As long as I am alive, no lower than 2. I demand it. I am the King of clay.


alison Says:

Rafa and Juan came through their 1st doubles match,6/3,6/2.


El Flaco Says:

If Rafa is at 75% he won’t have a problem with anyone in that tournament except Monaco in the finals.


Humble Rafa Says:

I won a match. I am back. I don’t want to talk about injury until I lose. Okay, do you understand? Until then let us put the injury genie in a box and lock it up.

I am going to let you on a little secret. I am going to win this damn title. If I can’t beat these clay court midgets, I might as well go back to Mallorca.


jamie Says:

Djokovic will win Roland Garros.

Murray will win Wimbledon and the USO.


jamie Says:

You heard it here first.


Humble Rafa Says:

You heard it here first.

I am sure your good lady astrologer told you this. am I right?


alison Says:

In 2013 Novak will win the FO,Wimbledon,the USO.
In 2014 Novak will win the AO,FO,Wimbledon,USO.
In 2015 Novak will win the AO,FO,Wimbledon,USO.
In 2016 Novak will win the AO,FO,Wimbledon,USO.
In 2017 Novak will win the AO,FO,Wimbledon,USO.
In 2018 Novak will win the AO,FO,Wimbledon,USO.
2019 and 2020 will be exactly the same,and possibly beyond,in fact Novak will still be dominating all the GS at the age of 40,surpassing Roger with weeks at no1,he will complete the calendar GS possibly 4 or 5 times,4 olympic gold medals possibly 5,he will surpass not only,Nadal,Emerson,Sampras,Federer,he will surpass Navratilova,Graff and Court,in fact he will dominate tennis for so long he could end up with 30 GS,he will also win the WTFs 7 or 8 times,he will be the worlds greatest ever tennis player male or female,the rest of the ATP and WTA are basically so screwed they will all just retire and give everything to Novak,this was all given to me this morning from my pyschic lady friend Septic Peg,you read it here 1st folks.


lesre Says:

Peter Bodo is damn right,i’m glad that Nadal is coming back but this is becoming verry boring saga. Redd it yourself.
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/02/most-controversial-knees-ever/46312/#.URJKax3C0vk


Sirius Says:

^ hahaha


Humble Rafa Says:

Alison,

Are you okay?


alison Says:

Humble Rafa yeah fine lol,whats more Jamie will pass out from the shear orgasmic pleasure of it all,just letting everyone know,i also have pyschic friends,who make predictions.


jane Says:

alison, what about Murray? I believe jamie has included a number of wins for him in his predictions. You left him out.


alison Says:

Jane nah my pyschic friend said the rest of the ATP are screwed it all belongs to Novak,Murray may sneak one in here or there but its unlikely,Federer and Nadal are done winning GS.
Final GS are
Federer 17 will be his final count hes done winning GS.
Nadal 11 will be his final count hes done winning GS.
Murray will win 3 or 4 but its unlikely he will win any more due to Novaks domination.
Novak will be so dominant he will win between 20 and 30 GS.
All this is predicted by my pyschic friend Septic Peg.Lets see if shes right.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

The expectations are high for February. Rafa will win the first two tournaments in a walk. Then we’ll see how he does against Ferrer in the bigger south american contest, and we’ll get an idea where he’s at. But by then he’ll have a whack of matches and confidence. I expect he’s going to be looking very good come April clay, even if there is a hiccup at the March hardcourt events.


alison Says:

Final GS predictions.
Olderer 17,he is done winning GS.
The Spanish Butt picker 11,he is done winning GS.
Murray 3 or 4 unlikely he will many more due to Novaks domination.
Novak between 20-30 GS,he will dominate mens tennis for the next ten years.
Olderer needs a roof to win a GS these days.
Needal is done winning GS,the butt picker needs loads of luck to win a GS on a HC.
Murray will win 3 or 4 GS.
Nole will win between 20 and 30 GS.
Nole will win 4 or 5 olympic Gold Medals.
Nole will win 5 or 6 WTFs.
Berdych,Tsonga,Tomic,Raonic are not GS winning meterial.
Federer and Nadal have lousy charts for the rest of their careers,Novaks chart is amazing for the rest of his career.
Lets see if my pyschic friend is right.


Sirius Says:

lol alison. i think ur psychic friend is just a little bit wrong about the WTF. i think novak would be able to win 10 or 12 WTF titles!


jane Says:

alison, I guess your psychic friend is different than jamie’s then, who says Murray will win 8 slams, including 2 this year.


jane Says:

Murray currently has 1 slam; jamie’s friend predicts 8.
Nole currently has 6 slams; jamie’s friend predicts 14.
So basically jamie’s astrologer predicts Nole and Andy will win about equal the amount of slams from here on out, not that Nole will dominate.


Giles Says:

Who is Jamie? Is he a good astrologer? Is he famous? Or is he indeed a quack? #Quack#Quack


jane Says:

I don’t think jamie claims to BE an astrologer, just to refer to them. He has posted a number of astrology links on here in the past. That’s his “thing.” :)


alison Says:

Jane the Rafatards and Fedtards better get used to it,Federer and Nadal are done winning GS,and Novak will surpass them both,according to my pyschic friend,you should be doing cartwheels been a Novak fan and all.


alison Says:

Jane Jamie himself predicted 14 GS for Novak,not his pyschic friend,anyway whatever Novak has a free reign doesnt really matter much either way.


alison Says:

Sirius yeah too right,10 or 12 would seem more realistic given how dominant he is.


jane Says:

^ perhaps jamie predicted those things himself about Nole, alison but then he also predicted the same for Andy. As I say, according to jamie’s recent posts, Nole won’t dominate; he will share, pretty much equally, the spoils with Nole.

jamie said on here before that he is an Andy fan. I believe it was after the USO?

As for Fedal being done, well I certainly wouldn’t have thunk it and don’t think it in fact.

But I suppose jamie and/or his astrologers can think it if they want to. It’s just predictions. Pundits do it all the time.


John Says:

I’m gonna go home and throw my bone dice and then decide, but not before the Psychic Cup reading!


jane Says:

^ with Murray. i.e., jamie says 7 more slams for Muzz; 8 more for Nole.


jane Says:

Maybe an 8 ball would work?


Giles Says:

Jamie is working on the basis that there are 6 and not 4 slams a year!! #Confused


John Says:

Want your own Jamie at home?

Order your own Psychic Cup and make sure you know whose to hoist the next trophy in Tennis!

http://healing.about.com/od/fateandfortune/ig/Divination-Tools/Psychic-Cup.htm


alison Says:

Jane TBH i dont care about Jamies predictions pyschic or otherwise i take them with a pinch of salt,we can all make them and theres nothing wrong in that,what i dont like is the nasty sarcastic comments that go with them,which is what Federer and Nadal fans have to stomach from him,however you have no axe to grind on that score as his favorite is also your favorite,so its all nicey nicey for you,pardon my sarcasm.


alison Says:

John thanks for that link,im quite interested in Holistic medicine and spiritual healing,been a Pagan and all.


jane Says:

alison, I get what you’re saying about jamie’s comments towards Nadal and Fed, but he has said on here that Murray is favourite, not Nole.


John Says:

@Alsion

Pleasure.


alison Says:

Jane fair enough,he sounds quite Novak biased is all,so i find it difficult to tell sometimes,hes free to be a fan of whoever he wants,i just dont care for the personal insults thats all.


Giles Says:

jane. Jamie is definitely a Nole fan!


alison Says:

Giles i believe Janes right,i think he did say at the USO Murray was his favorite,its just that hes got a funny way of showing it,as he has made some rather sacastic comments about Murray,that came after Novaks AO win.


courbon. Says:

Jamie is not a Nole fan-he jumps between Murray and Nole.Because Nole won AO, he is Nole fan.As soon he looses, he changes aliances to Murray.He don’t it last year…
@Alison-you take that with pinch of salt?I think bucket of salt would be better expression…
Again, last year after AO, people got over entusiastic about Noles prospects.It will pass.If Nole gets three more grand slams and passed Lendl,Connors,Agassi that would be amazing and enough.I know you are getting pissed off with this Nole euphoria at the moment, but think this way-How about others listening about Nadal last 6 years?.Or even his knees for last two weeks?Or his H2H against others-that was repeated so many times that I dream those bloody numbers…You win some, you loose some I guess…
Have a nice evening,I have to wake up waaaaay to early tomorrow.I don’t know where is Rodney tonight, but say hi from me.


alison Says:

Courbon my brother in laws like that,with his football team Coventry City FC,couldnt care less about them when they are doing crap,which was the case at the beginging of the season,now they have gone unbeaten in 15 games all of a sudden hes a fan,anyway about the whole Nole thing my apologies,its not the euphoria, its the belittling of the other players that got up my nose,and yeah i know Novaks fans had to stomach alot before he became the player he is now,and he and his fans deserve all the luck they are getting now,and i myself think ive heard enough about Rafas Knees this past fortnight to last a lifetime,and i never discuss the H2H except only to say i think its BS,and its what you do over the entire field and not just one player,and my posts came over a bit too sarcastic to put it mildly,as i think i got out of bed on the wrong side,and blew a gasquet with my stupid posts,hell even Humble Rafa asked me if i was feeling ok,and if i was the same Alison,ill ease up now as ive got it out of my system,havent seen Wogboy,Rodney all day lol,but i will say hi from you if or when he does turn up,apologies again.


Wog boy Says:

Just watching, just watching … both of you .

Delboy, I am going to dob you in … to your French wife.


Wog boy Says:

jamie, jamie … what have you done?


alison Says:

Wogboy so sorry about my posts today,its completely out of charater for me,im actually feeling quite upset about it all to be honest.


courbon. Says:

@Alison:I can’t sleep…(I’have to wake up in 6 hours).Bit grumpy today?Well, you are aloud to ( your work id hard-I’ watch my kids for a full day and I’m exausted-26 grannys?Give me a break).I completely agree with you-I can not stand when any fans (Fed, Noles ,Rafas ) have to crap (sorry for my French) on other players…Belive me, some crap I heard in the last couple of days, from Noles fans about Novak, make me laugh.I guess, with all pleasant exchanges (like this one ) you have to go through stupid ones…H2H, Weak era,Strong era, Clay or Hard…. and similair-All we gonna remember is the number of Grand slams ( and maybe a weeks at No1 place ) and thats all that counts in history books.
Regarding Rodney-I’m not sure if Rodney suits him.He is older then me and Rodney is a lttle nippa…so maybe Boyce?
Now, I definetely have to go to bed.Good night, sweet dreams, speak to you soon.


courbon. Says:

@Wog Boy:Why don’t you say something instead of spying?Alison, he just told me today that he is from Zemun-which is English terms something like a Croydon with London.Shall I say more?


courbon. Says:

@Wog Boy:One more thing. BFF is all the time calling Moderators when it comes to you-one day those moderators will get you,mate…


Wog boy Says:

courbon,

KGB is everywhere;)


Giles Says:

alison. Me thinks it was the G&T’s talking! Lol


alison Says:

Thankyou Courbon,i have a week off work so the old grannies will have to wait,i dont have kids,but this is like looking after 26 big kids,anyway go to bed and get some sleep,and yeah i do think Rodney suits you more actually BTW lol.


alison Says:

Giles lol nah it was 10.00am this morning,id just got out of bed after having a lie in,G and Ts no i dont start that early lol.


jane Says:

alison, I like courbon’s “bucket of salt” idea. Anyhow, don’t sweat it! You should be enjoying that Rafa is back, and he’s in short shorts. ;)


the DA Says:

Back in short shorts and winning. Looking a little rusty but that’s to be expected. Standing room only for a 1st round match!


Wog boy Says:

Ok, UK people tell me please what is Croydon in London. If it is what I think it is than courbon I coming over to get you !


alison Says:

Thanks Jane,he got the W,and thats whats important 6/3 6/2,although hes bound to be rusty and can play much better i dont doubt that,im sorry about my OTT sarcastic posts towards you today,im still feeling quite upset about the whole thing,id like to put it behind me and start a fresh tomorrow.


alison Says:

Wogboy Croydon is in the London Borough in South London.


Wog boy Says:

Thanks alison, but what it is known for?


mat4 Says:

“alison Says:

In 2013 Novak will win the FO,Wimbledon,the USO…”

Alison,

I see that Jamie made you lose your temper. Don’t worry, (s)he has the same effect on me. He just drives me crazy.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

What about YEC (WTF), is Nole winning that one too this year?


mat4 Says:

@WB:

I’ll keep my lips sealed.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

No, I won’t. Sorry I lied.

I am happy he won the AO. I would be very happy if he also could won the FO. Don’t need to mention that my joy would be without bonds if he wins WB too. And if he wins the USO after that… I don’t care about the YEC..


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

You are very moderate in expectation, let us just focus on FO and we will see how he is going after that;) But something tells me that Rafa will be more than ready to defend FO, uncle Toni has a full bag of surprises.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

Seriously, this time: I believe that this new racquet will allow Novak to improve his game on clay. And I am not certain that Rafa will play at his old level: JMac was never the same after his vacancies, Haas neither, nor do I remember a player who has regained his former ranking after a long pause from injury. Agassi could be an exception, because he was not injured.

Then, Rafa has to build his momentum. A bit like Antaeus, he gets his strength from his victories on clay. He needs them to rebuild his confidence. That’s perhaps the reason he skipped the AO. He better be ready for IW, because an early loss, or a heavy defeat against one of the other top players could hurt him very much.

I also think that Novak will skip MC and avoid to play Rafa there. It would certainly be wise.

Then, I also believe that Murray and Federer can be very dangerous in Paris. I don’t believe that Murray will lose against anybody without a good fight.

So, for now, I think that Novak has a better chance to win than last year, especially if he manages to handle that racquet the way he used the old one. It will be very difficult, of course, and until proven the contrary, Rafa is still the favourite.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

More or less that is my take too. I am pretty sure Rafa is not going to play IW and Miami, he will chose one or the other and will go straight to Europe. Since Miami is slow court and close to Europe I think he will play Miami, and Kimberly lives there too. He will make enough points in South America to compensate for either IW or Miami.

I agree, Nole should skip MC, even he defends 600 points, particulary after playing DC in USA. Madrid, Rome should be enough before FO.

As for Andy I think his clay game is underestimated. He had Nadal two years ago , I think it was MC, but he had injured elbow and received cortisone before match, by the time of third set cortisone wore off and he lost, he also had Nole in Rome, serving for the match methinks, so yes he will be tough to beat on any surface.

Should I say anything about Federer, I don’t think so, his records speak for themselves.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

I believe that uncle Toni has nothing and that Rafa needs a better coach.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

If he hasn’t done it until now, he is 26 and will be 27 soon, he will not do it now … change the coach.


jane Says:

mat4, I’d be shocked if Rafa changed coaches now; he seems set in his routines, it’s a family unit – why change now? It’s not like he’s not been very successful with 11 slams by age 26.

alison, like Tony Soprano might say, “forget about it…” :)


jane Says:

Wog boy, agree on Nole skipping MC, and on Andy being underestimated on clay. His best surface might be grass, but he grew up playing on clay and it’s a strong surface for Lendl, too, which can only help.


courbon. Says:

@Wog Boy:Good morning, good people of OZ.
Croydon is exactly like a Zemun.Know for being tacky and dodgy… (joking, more like a Resnik -if you get my drift )Joking aside, there is two sides of coin.If Nole goes to MC and Rafa is still rusty (because is first European tournament ) and lets imagine he beats him-that would be massive blow for confidence for Rafa before RG.And boost for Nole.On the other side, it can be exactly opposite.Risky, either way you look…


Wog boy Says:

courbon,
Good morning/good afternoon, Frenchie:)

To win MC Rafa doesn’t have to be 100% but to win Madrid he has to be 101%. By the time MC comes Rafa will have 4-5 tournaments and decent break between Miami and MC more than enough to win it. Nole is going to play Dubai, IW, Miami and DC just before MC and to fly all the way from Idaho to Europe (look at the map, few time zones), too risky if you ask me, even for SuperSerb;)

Hi jane:)


courbon. Says:

Wog Boy-I agree with you.I’m just saying how maybe some will look at that…(and maybe Novak himself).
For me, it would be good if Novak gets some wins (any-Dubay or IW…) under his belt and goes fight proven in clay season.

Regarding the our memories, I got you now-you are ‘Grlom u Jagode’ generation ( I just watched recently and its superb ).
I have to got work, speak to you later.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I wrote a longer post about uncle Toni somewhere here:

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2013-02-06/11515.php#comment-422191

I know that Rafa won’t/can’t change his coach. But I do think that it is a mistake.


What Do We Read Into Rafa’s Return After One Week? It Is Time To Panic Or Time To Chill? Says:

[...] I said last week, I just don’t know how you play your knee back into shape. To me, that’s a medical [...]

Top story: Novak Djokovic Is My Early U.S. Open Favorite, But Buyer Beware
Most Recent story: Rafael Nadal's Still Training On Hardcourts, The Splint Is Back On [Video]
  • Recent Comments
Rankings
ATP - Aug 18 WTA - Aug 18
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Na Li
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 Milos Raonic6 Maria Sharapova
7 Tomas Berdych7 Angelique Kerber
8 Grigor Dimitrov8 Eugenie Bouchard
9 Andy Murray9 Ana Ivanovic
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga10 Jelena Jankovic
More: Tennis T-Shirts | Tennis Shop | Live Tennis Scores | Headlines

Copyright © 2003-2014 Tennis-X.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an independently operated source of news and information and is not affiliated with any professional organizations.