Nadal Pulls from ATP Dubai, Focuses on Davis Cup

by Richard Vach | February 19th, 2009, 4:02 pm

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal further underlined his dedication to representing Spain in Davis Cup today, announcing he will skip the near-$1 million appearance fee to play next week’s Dubai Tennis Championships in order to rest a knee injury ahead of Spain’s upcoming Davis Cup tie.
Nadal was hobbled last week during the final at Rotterdam where he could hardly put up a fight in the third set against eventual champion Andy Murray.

“I am very disappointed not to be able to compete in Dubai, but the doctor has advised me to stay home and rest after the pain in my knee in Rotterdam last week,” Nadal wrote on his website Thursday. “Nothing to be worried about but it needs some rest.”

Tendinitis below the right knee is believed to be the culprit.

“I expect to be back in competition the following week for the Davis Cup tie in Benidorm against Serbia and then traveling to Indian Wells and Miami after,” Nadal wrote.

The injury now puts the top two players in the world on the sideline, as earlier this week Roger Federer announced he would be skipping Dubai with a back injury.

Federer was penciled-in for the Davis Cup week in early March to represent Switzerland against the U.S. in what would have been an all-star clash, but the Swiss says he will also be skipping the trip to Birmingham, Ala., leaving Top 20-ranked Stan Wawrinka with a mighty weight on his shoulders.

The withdrawal stretches Federer’s streak to five years since he has represented Switzerland in a World Group main draw tie. From 2005-2008 Federer has represented Switzerland after they’ve lost first round and fallen into the World Group Qualifying round, rescuing his nation from falling into zonal play.

After capturing the gold medal in men’s doubles with Wawrinka at the 2008 Olympics, Federer was subsequently fired-up to represent Switzerland in Davis Cup play through 2009. The current back injury is blamed by some for his poor serving during the Australian Open final loss to Nadal.

The ATP Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami in March, injuries willing, will be the next stages for the world No. 1 and No. 2 to resume their rivalry, which is rapidly becoming a one-sided affair. Nadal has won their last five meetings on three different surfaces.

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34 Comments for Nadal Pulls from ATP Dubai, Focuses on Davis Cup

Von Says:


Per Nadal: “I am very disappointed not to be able to compete in Dubai, but the doctor has advised me to stay home and rest after the pain in my knee in Rotterdam last week,” Nadal wrote on his website Thursday. “Nothing to be worried about but it needs some rest.”

Please tell me where in that quote did Nadal say he’s foregoing Dubai to play Davis Cup or he’s resting his knee for the upcoming Davis Cup??

You stated:

“…announcing he will skip the near-$1 million appearance fee to play next week’s Dubai Tennis Championships in order to rest a knee injury ahead of Spain’s upcoming Davis Cup tie.”

Nadal stated; “I expect to be back in competition the following week for the Davis Cup tie in Benidorm against Serbia and then traveling to Indian Wells and Miami after,” Nadal wrote.

Aren’t you reading more into Nadal’s statement, making him sound more heroic than he really is? He could very well be missing Dubai due to the political situation, who knows. One thing I do know is that I’m sick and tired of the infernal “knee tendinitis” injury card. I wonder who uses the knee excuse more, Serena or Nadal? And, BTW, couldn’t this be a patella problem due to how he plays, rather than knee tendinitis? His problem seems to stem from the femur. When he has an injury time-out he always points to the femural area and not the patella. The whole thing is becoming a bit much.

Hypnos Says:


If it’s an excuse, it’s an expensive one, even for Nadal!

Also, I think one can do worse than use Serena as an example of fitness management. Yes, she’s not very gracious when she loses, but her efficiency in winning slams speaks for itself.

Maybe pulling out of tournaments regularly is the way to keep one’s self healthy. Listen to the body.

Von Says:


Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that Nadal likes to mirror Federer. Whatever Federer does he follows suit and to me it’s indicative of the points situation. Perhaps to Nadal it’s not very crucial if he misses Dubai, because he has the points from Rotterdam to cover the loss of points from Dubai. This way, he’ll still be able to keep Federer at arm’s length. He can make up the appearance fee in the blink of an eye from one of his sponsors.

I also feel that in some ways he’s Serena’s parallel. Ever since she had surgery on her knee, she’s used it as an excuse to withdraw from tournaments and everything that ails her, and now he’s using the same excuse. Isn’t there another ailment that’s responsible for trainer calls and/or injury time-outs, other than the ever-loving “knee” issue? How about a broken heart, would that work?

Hypnos Says:


So you have a problem with players withdrawing from tournaments? It’s inevitable, the way the tours are structured. Seeding is based on rankings, and while smaller tournaments don’t count for as many points, they do count. Contrast with an auto racing circuit, where all the tops players show up to every event, because there’s no choice if they want to be a champion.

So if a top player wishes to focus on winning Grand Slams, there is something to gained by tactical withdrawals when the body is acting up or they just want some rest.

Can you think of a solution, short of making every tournament as big as a Grand Slam and having no other tournaments?

ferix Says:

I also agree that Nadal got off lightly for his dramatic performance in the final at Rotterdam. Completely threw Andy off his game for a while. He now says it’s a small issue that only requires rest. Andy also had a bad ankle but fans only notice as much as the players show.

marron Says:

Von, in Rotterdam, Rafa was pointing to his shin area below the patella… that big bone there is the tibia. NOT the femur. There are at least 3 ligaments I’m aware of that surround the knee joint, inserting from the femur above, and the tibia below.

At the AO, Rafa was getting massages on his right thigh, as I recall. With NO injury timeouts. Same as Verdasco did in the semifinal.

And as I recall, knee tendonitis is an ongoing problem. It doesn’t get ‘cured’ and disappear. Last year I believe it was mentioned by his team that this is something Rafa will have to live with and manage, much like Andre had to manage his back problems later on in his career.

‘Facts shmacts. You can prove anything with facts.’ – Homer Simpson

margot Says:

not a totally serious contribution -Andy is younger than Rafa, perhaps he recovers quicker…

Von Says:


I don’t have a problem with players withdrawing from tournaments. I feel if a player is sick and/or injured, then remain at home in bed. That would be the best course of action to take than to show up and call for the trainer in every match plus incur countless medical time-outs. It’s disruptive to the injured player’s opponent and to the tournament in general. It’s also the player’s responsibility to employ the rule of ‘all things in moderation’ and not over play. Adherence to a user-friendly schedule will do the trick. If a player know that he can’t play on very fast hard-courts, then don’t push it, find tournaments that are played on medium paced courts.

Last night I watched the Rotterdam final again on the Tennis Channel, and it was obvious that Nadal’s injury time-out completely disrupted Murray’s rhythm. Murray could not serve or get back into the match — his timing was completely off. Consequently, he lost his serve and then went on to lose the set.

I also feel it’s unfair to the fans who pay a tidy sum of money for entertainment only to have to sit and wait through these disruptions. Don’t you think they deserve better?

Going into Rotterdam, Nadal by his own admission, stated it would be a tough tournament because the courts are among the fastest in the world. Then, if that were the case, why would he risk injuring himself to play there, which is exactly what happened. To me, that’s just asking for trouble. Well, he got the trouble alright and it will cost him big time, not only money-wise. However, Nadal has subsequently stated that his injury is “nothing serious”. All of the histrionics and it’s nothing serious?

“Seeding is based on rankings, and while smaller tournaments don’t count for as many points, they do count.”

Tell that to some of the posters, who knock some players for playing in the smaller tournaments and count their titles as inconsequential.

Von Says:


Yes, Nadal was pointing to his shin and knee, but he was also pointing and rubbing his upper thigh which contains the femoral artery. I’m familiar with the tibia, patella and shin and their location. I’ve seen him point to the upper thigh and his butt, on several occasions whenever he has an injury time-out for his knee, hence the reason for the thigh massages. His knees aren’t being massaged because you can’t massage a bone. Maybe he has femoral nerve dysfunction in conjunction with knee tendonitiis, who knows. Femoral nerve dysfunction causes weakness when attempting to straighten the knee thus producing sharp pain. I remember at times, Nadal has mentioned, e.g., Paris that he felt a sharp pain in his upper thigh. Tendonitis does not cause that type of sharp pain only a nerve problem will.

Tendonitis causes a dull aching pain which can be alleviated and kept under control by the use of anti-inflammatories. It can, however, be aggravated by excessive activity, but not enough for someone to be laid up for several weeks. If Nadal’s tendonitis was as significant as his camp has lead the public to believe, it would be totally impossible for Nadal to be running around and sprinting like a gazelle. Mark Philipousis had severe knee problems and he could not sprint around like Nadal does. The same with Safin.

I don’t think we can place Agassi’s back problems in the same category as Nadal’s knee tendonitis. Agassi’s back problem was a far more painful and debilitating condition. I’m sorry to say this, but I believe Nadal’s camp attaches a lot more gravity to his knee problem than there really exists.

From what I’ve observed with Nadal’s injury time-outs, they only seem to occur when he’s lost the first set of a match or is losing the match, and/or when he’s exhausted and needs a pause to refresh, then he uses the old knee problem as an excuse. It’s truly sad because he’s making a mockery of the rules, even though he is within the parameters of such rules. And, according to his camp it’s an ongoing problem, so I suppose we will just have to accept the fact that there will always be medical injury time-outs for knee tendonitis whenever he plays plus the semantics. I don’t understand why his knee problem is not being treated with Synvisc, which is similar to the synovial fluid in our knees, and the preferred treatment used for arthritic knees and/or tendonitis.

zola Says:

Richard, nice article.

Rafa injured his knee in Rotterdam. He sais in a statement later that it was not tendinitis, but something to do with muscle and it should heal with proper rest.

I believe his withdrawl from Dubai is because he wants to be 100% for Davis cup. IW and Miami are just a week after Dubai. I think this was a good decision for Rafa because his body is the main concern when he plays. After IW and Miami, the clay court season will start with non-stop matches till Wimbledon and Rafa has lots of points to defend.

Those who cannot pr do not want to comprehend that Rafa’s body might have been tired or injuured after two five-set matches in AO and lots of 3-set wins in Rotterdam. All on hard courts, which affect Rafa’s knees very badly.

Still, I am not surprised to read Vons venemous remarks against Rafa. He can do nothing that would seem right to Von,. Those who are not familiar with her strange hatred against Nadal, should go back and read some of her old remarks against him. she has been more polite here, and has not referred to him as “Tarzan” yet! (that’s an improvement by itself!)

Rafa has had a foot injury in 2005 Madrid and he could not play the rest of the year, as well as AO 2006. After that he has developed some sort of tendinitis. So, I am happy to see him skip some tournaments and give proper rest to his body.

Rafa has a great game and great personality. Those who favor players who shout profanities to the umpires on court perhaps cannot understand how a 22-year old can be so respectful in victory and in defeat. It is a fundamental difference in character that surfaces with such strange, biased, but very revealing comments.

Hypnos Says:


Perhaps I’ll keep an eye out for it myself.

I’ve never found Nadal to be unsportsmanlike, though he does push the rules as written regarding the time he takes between his serves and when leaving changeovers.

As far as I know, the medical timeouts are there to help an injured player keep performing if possible — better for the crowd and TV viewers to sit through a medical timeout rather than have a player retire. On the other hand, they can be abused, and I do think that Djokovic abuses them. Perhaps this, too, requires a solution — point penalty for every medical timeout after the first?

Von Says:

And, now enters the “jaws of life”.

tenisbebe Says:


“I don’t understand why his knee problem is not being treated with Synvisc”. I take it that this is not a prohibited medication for players and he would therefore be allowed to use it?

I need some of that for my knees for when I play excessively on hardcourts. It is prescription? Sorry, just taking advantage of your medical knowledge.

Von Says:


Synvisc is a natural substance. It’s hyaluronic acid, which is the component of the synovial fluid that’s present in our kness that acts like a buffer for the cartilage, so that it doesn’t rub against itself and stop the grinding. Do your knees make a creaking sound when you walk? You need to see an Orthopedist who will administer the treatment. It’s a three part dosage, given once per week for three (3) consecutive weeks injecting the knee. It is covered by most insurance plans.

margot Says:

I don’t know if Rafa is stretching the rules or not, but his time out at Rotterdam did effect Andy’s play in the second set. However, in that set also, Rafa changed his normal game and tried to keep the points short by volleying a lot more than usual. It was very effective and Andy commented on the change of tactics. I wonder why he doesn’t do this more often. Perhaps he isn’t confident he’d always win if he did.
In Europe, I don’t know about America, Rafa is the “Rock Star” of tennis. Probably the fans would rather see an underpar Rafa rather than no Rafa at all.
Also, I’m wondering if his sponsors would not be too keen on him pulling out of tournaments.

Von Says:


I hope you’re happy, your guy won!! He played a very good match and the crowd was very suportive. I hope he’s not over-playing though.


Sorry, Djoko lost, but it seems that Tsonga has got his number. Djoko had a resigned look on his face during the entire match, as if he expected to lose. The fire was not there, also, absent was the after-the match embrace at the net.

tenisbebe Says:

Von – No my knees do not creak – thank goodness – just ache when have played to much hardcourt tennis (3/4 x’s a wk for a mo or so) plus ACL repaired 10 yrs ago. Started taking gluco/chond & that’s helped alot but may need something stronger in the future (getting older is a drag). Many thanks Von for the information. My apologizes to others for this personal entry.

momotoom Says:

Zola, good to see you posting again. As always, enjoy reading your insightful comments.
It’s amazing how some people will question some players’ injuries or health issues or worse implying that they are on steroids with no proof.

I wish I could post regularly but since my time is restricted I only have the luxury to read Sean’s really good articles and the comments. As a big tennis fan I really enjoy good constructive comments related to tennis tournaments, matches and players by posters like you, Jane and Grendel among others; not those that use the anonymity of blogs to slag players they don’t like without merit.
My favourite players are Rafa, Tsonga, Verdasco, and Monfils with Agassi number 1 on my all-time favorites. I also think that Djokovic is amazing when he’s on point, physical meltdowns aside. And I don’t believe that you can truly be a tennis fan if you don’t at least acknowledge Federer’s magnificent talent. He doesn’t get me excited but I respect what he has contributed to the game.

Von Says:


The Synvisc helps to keep the knees moist. Our synovial fluid dries up and that’s when the irritation begins. The Synvisc helps to replenish the depleted synovial fluid. If you’ve had ACL repair I’m sure the Synvisc would help because you probably have some cartilage deterioration developing or has already developed. You need to talk to an Orthopedist who would be able to judge whether the Synvisc would help you. I know of many people it’s helped and even though hyaluronic acid is a natural substance, because of its success rate, it’s been FDA approved, which speaks volumes as to its effectiveness. FDA has very stringent guidelines for its approval of natural products.

Von Says:

“..not those that use the anonymity of blogs to slag players they don’t like without merit…”

Oh my, then you’ve hooked up with the “quieen” of slagging. LOL. Enjoy.

tenisbebe Says:

Von – Many thanks again for the detailed information – I really appreciate it. Will talk to my orthopedist about it.

tenisbebe Says:

momotoom – Hi – I am a new poster here and just wanted to respond to your remarks. I have to tell that, with few exceptions, I have found the comments on this blog to be well-thought out, insightful and respectful. Certainly people get carried away sometimes with their favorites, but it’s nothing off the charts. Some of the other tennis blogs (I won’t mention which ones) are filled with angry, spiteful, vicious fanatics who will stoop to any level to promote/defend their favorite(s) from a perceived attack – it can be quite ugly out there. Have not seen that here which is refreshing.

Von Says:


You’re welcome re the Synvisc. I’ve had it injected into my kness because of arthroscopic surgery and it has been a life-saver. It’s been like night and day.

With respect to comments, you are very perceptive. It’s true people air their thoughts, but some feel that their player is above reproach and God forbid a poster should do the unthinkable, and that is, state their opinion, to which we are all entitled to, BTW, then it becomes all out war. It’s a one-sided game. Some posters feel they have carte blanche on slagging of other posters’ favourites, but when they are rebutted, then the person doing the rebutting is a marked target and then the solidarity for the player by his fans begins — and a war ensues. Those who like a certain player do not find or see anything wrong when their cohorts slag other players, they only choose to see when the reverse happens in retaliation.

momotoom Says:

tenisbebe: you have a point there. For the most part I have found a lot of the postings to be quite constructive here unlike some other blogs but I have noticed especially lately a descent into ‘nasty’ territory by a couple of posters. I mean really, claiming that a player is on steroids without evidence? That’s just obnoxious.

Von: I’m not sure how I’ve hooked up with the so called queen of slagging. What, because I mentioned a couple of posters whose comments I appreciate? Geez, okay then.

Ezorra Says:

Zola!!!!!!!!!!!!! I miss yoooou!!!! (i’m crying (happily) to death at the moment!!!)

MMT Says:

Big win for Tsonga in Marseille – not a lot of points, but hard fought nonetheless. Interesting facts about Tsonga – this is his 5th ATP level final, and he’s won 4. But between 2004 and 2008, he made 17 challenger/futures finals and won 14. No matter what your level, if you’re winning 8 out 9 finals, you’re learning how to win under pressure, which I think he’s benefitting from now, and something a guy like Donald Young could benefit from, instead of taking the easy route of seeking and accepting unmerited wildcards every chance you get.

Polo Says:

Why don’t they just get rid of injury time outs altogether? Is there any other sport that allows for an injury time out? If you get injured during the match, tough luck. You either gut it out or retire. But no time outs. It is not unfair to the other player especially since the system can always be abused and it seems to be happening a lot.

Polo Says:

Correction: “…it is not fair…”

MMT Says:

Polo – couldn’t agree with you more. Tennis players are total sissies in this regard. They need to get rid of that rule, period. If a guy can’t hack it, then quit. Nobody has a divine right to get a mid-match massage, and it is abused heavily.

tenisbebe Says:

Hear, hear!! What may be more realistic however is to implement (this was proposed in another stream) a policy of one injury time out per match and a some sort of penalty for each thereafter (regardless if it is a new injury). It used to be that the women were the notorious for abusing this rule but the men are now catching up, with Djokovic being the most obvious offender.

It would be interesting to have a forum on what posters deem they would most like changed in the sport. One change I would like to see is no back-to-back Masters events (ie: Indian Wells/Miami, Toronto/Cincinnati, etc). Too brutal on the players.

Von Says:


Good for Tsonga. I admire him for his accomplishments and his tennis too.

Did you see my post on the other threads?

Sorry to say, Donald Young has been a terrible disappointment for the US. He wants everything handed to him on a platter.

I’ve been very vociferous about injury time-outs. I believe they are abused in the worst way. It’s almost like the player thinking to himself, going into the match, “If this one’s too difficult for me, I’ll get an injury time-out, throw off my opponent’s momentum, and then break him.” I can’t see how this is good for the sport.

I think these players are so filthy rich that penalizing them monetarily is a waste of time. Also, one injury time-out per match is a almost the same as it is now. It could be one per tournament. If a player is really injured, one in jury time-out is all that’s needed, because he’ll be too injured to play. As it is now, the injury time-out is not that they’re too injured to carry on, it’s just a pause to refresh. makes me think of the Coca Cola commercial. The rule should be as MMT/Polo suggested, gut it out, or quit.

Miami/IW is not very bad because there’s a mini down-time between tourneys. I think the combination of the Toronto/Cincy tourneys is the worst, especially due to how excruciatingly hot it becomes in Cincy. ATP needs to find a week by pushing back a couple of tourneys or work out something to eliminate this problem.

tenisbebe Says:

To clarify, penalty meaning a point(s) or game penalty, something more immediate. I just don’t see the ITO’s going away altogether-as much as some of them dislike the abuse, players like to keep their options opened. In any case, it would be an interesting discussion.

As for the Master Series, would like to see a solid week b/w events. Cincy is both hot & humid – the double wammy. Last yr it was 125 on court during the Federer/Karlovic match (which Fed lost) – almost as bad as Oz.

tenisbebe Says:

Should have said 125F/52C on court.

Taylor Says:

Simply stated as a former tennis pro and now a physician, “if you play at that level being injured, it is can potentially career ending” Second, patella tendenitis can be extremely painful and can hamper supporting muscle groups. Third, he can compete in whatever event he pleases for whatever reason. I wouldn’t play any tournament if I felt like I wasn’t suited to play and especially if I was injured.

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