Rafael Nadal Sets Return To Tennis At… Abu Dhabi?
by Sean Randall | October 2nd, 2012, 10:08 am

The beleaguered former No. 1 Rafael Nadal is set to return to tennis at the Abu Dhabi exhibition event in late December, that according the tournament.

The hard court exo, which also includes Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic (no Roger Federer this year?), is set to begin on Thursday, December 27.

Because of bad knees Nadal hasn’t hit a ball since losing to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon.

If Rafa does return at Abu Dhabi – no official confirmation from Rafa, and he could come back earlier – I can only assume he would also play Doha the following week before heading to the Australian Open. I’m not sure how healthy he will be by then, but I also have to assume those two events will dangle a hefty bag of money in effort to have Rafa show up.

Let’s just hope he gets to Melbourne in one piece.

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114 Comments for Rafael Nadal Sets Return To Tennis At… Abu Dhabi?

xmike Says:

he will play the exo, get the appearance fee, then say he “is not ready” or some crap like that and miss the tour until dubai/south american clay tournaments, therefore completing his 6 month silent ban for doping, just like the conspiracy theorists have been saying all along

i just wish he would retire for good so that we don’t have to put up any more with his horrible style of play, his obsessive compulsive disorders, his time delays, his cheating, his eternal injuries, his lying and his excuses when he loses and all the other irritating characteristics he has, which are to numerous to list here exhaustively

Brando Says:

‘Let’s just hope he gets to Melbourne in one piece.’

That is the wish of his fans and i believe most tennis enthusiast’s.

I think (fingers crossed) he shall be fully fit prior AO.

Wish him the best with his recovery anyhow.

Giles Says:

^ Yes Brando. I wish the same! Let’s go Rafa!!

rogerafa Says:

Too much speculation and too many assumptions.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Rafa will only play if he is fit and able to compete at 100% and no amount of money will make him do otherwise. Rafa is a big, big draw, so I can understand why some believe he’s being paid to show up, but he would have been offered money to play the Asian swing as well but he wasn’t ready.

Abu Dhabi and the AO are over the moon that he is hoping to be there. It would be a big boost to the tournaments. I can’t wait to see a healthy Nadal on court to breathe life into the dull tour we are experiencing at the moment.

Tennis without Nadal is like eating food with no seasoning.

alison Says:

Rogerafa great post completely agree too much assumptions,too much speculation,and way too many unfounded and ridiculous accusations,personally i dont know when he will return to the tour,my only wish is that hes fit and ready when he does so,whether thats Abu Dhabi,AO,WTF whenever,just come back Rafa when your fit and healthy.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Why are posters like xmike allowed to slander someone with no sanctions?

subo Says:

i agree with mike nadal is doping injuries and doping go together big time where is the atp did they banned nadal with out telling the public to protect nadal where are the clowns in the media to ask nadal tough questions now he is in to gambling remember pete rose

alison Says:

Such a shame people come on this forum occasionally only to spread hatred,personally ive never see the point,wouldnt it be more productive to actually spend some time talking about players that they do like instead,why waste such nervous and negative energy,lifes too short?

Margot Says:

Rafa has millions and millions of fans across the world. Just ignore those libellous remarks.

alison Says:

Well said Margot,unfortunatly haters will always hate,they are the ones with a problem not Rafa.

the DA Says:

Well said Margot. Unfortunately there are cretins (and trolls) on every public forum who only feel comfortable in making libelous remarks under the cloak of anonymity.


John Says:


Oh come on,

Whats the problem?

Don’t like it when people trash talk your fav?

Ive seen you doing it to Federer plenty enough.

And now you wanna be the Victim?

I can understand people like Alison being upset, but you have not earned that privilege.

Your the last person to be dishing out any kind of advice, or statement on the subject, moral or not.

So take a peace of your own medicine, add some hot sauce for good measure, and enjoy.

Giles Says:

^ check your spelling! Troll!!!

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

John says,

“Your the last person…….”

I think the word you are looking for is ‘you’re’ not ‘your’. Just in case you didn’t know, you’re an abbreviated form of ‘you are’. ‘Your’ is a personal pronoun in the possessive case.

Just saying.

sienna Says:

Xmike sounds scincere enough in making his claims.

I Must see some proof before really take it in for 100%.

Lets say it is about 50-50 his theory.

Nadal not being injured is a big plus for his theory. there really is not much wrong with Nadal.

But I give him benefit of doubt for opting out on his own choice because he wasnot ready to compete on the fast courts.

He is living da vita loca. but there should be some inquiries about his absence because the injury card has blown in their faces.

lazlo Says:

Giles, EIEIO, and Colin are all into spell checking and grammar. Wonder why?

Rafael Says:

LOL! what a drama queen! maybe rafa should just join serena and play the WTA. i am sure he would love to play only best of 3. didn’t he keep whining about them till they removed best of 5 for masters and the year-end finals?

we dont need drama queens who are desperate for attention on the ATP.

Rafael Says:

” Giles, EIEIO, and Colin are all into spell checking and grammar. Wonder why?”

most probably they are english which also means they are stupid.

Rafael Says:

no wonder murray always wants to emphasize his scottish origin :)

alison Says:

This thread is merely stating Rafas intention of a possibility of when he may or may not return to the tour,hes not whining or moaning about the length of the tour or anything else for that matter,it would be nice if people would stick to the topic,instead of looking for an argument thats not even there.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Rafael Says:

“LOL! what a drama queen! maybe rafa should just join serena and play the WTA.”

Whatever. All I know is, the tennis world cannot wait for Rafa to come back and put some excitement into the dull tour we are enduring at the moment.

alison Says:

Why all of a sudden are posters been held under scrutiny for their spelling and grammar?This is a tennis forum for goodness sake,err come on does it really matter that much?

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Come on alison, you don’t have to take it too seriously. I was only having my own back on John. I’m not bothered about people’s grammar because I realise that english is not the first language of most posters.

john Says:

@Giles@Everyone is entitled to my opinion

Ok grammar police.

Firstly English aint my first language so I take no offence what so ever.

Whats your second language? Google translate?

Secondly maybe you should educate yourself and spend a bit more time on the internet old man, since you dont seem to even know what a troll is.

If I was trolling you, you would be going fking crazy.

@Everyone is entitled to my opinion

Here is a new username that I think is much better for you.

This god damn noobs should not be entitled to use a computer.

john Says:

Oh wait!

I meant,

This god damn noob should not be entitled to use a computer.

Now I must correct typos to prevent idiotic responses.

This gets more laughable by the second.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

My second language is microsoft translate actually, not google. Lol

At least you’ve learned something today – ‘your book’ as opposed to ‘you’re the last person’. That’s my good deed for the day, and it’s free.

john Says:

@Everyone is entitled to my opinion

Lol ok thx for that, only wish you could respond to the actual subject. I suppose they dont teach you that at grammar camp.

Whats there to lol about? Google translate?

Going back to my first post.

I was trying to make a simple point which you obviously failed to understand.

The point being?

Dont trash talk players and then get offended when people do the same about your fav.

Thats like one pimp telling the other, that what hes doing is morally wrong.

If you wanna judge a pimp, stop pimping yourself.


Either way..Ive done my good deed for the day.

Putting a hypocrite in his place. Pleasure :)

Alok Says:

@John: “Dont trash talk players and then get offended when people do the same about your fav.

Thats like one pimp telling the other, that what hes doing is morally wrong.

If you wanna judge a pimp, stop pimping yourself.”

Good one.

I see the english lessons are still ongoing.

I used to think of Brits as a mannerly people, but on blogs I’ve learned otherwise. They enjoy putting down others by displaying their superb writing skills, especially Americans, whom they feel don’t know English. I keep far way from them on blogs, since I’m not a student of the language and don’t wanna be humiliated. My screen name doesn’t help either, but it’s who I am.

lazlo Says:

“especially Americans, whom they feel don’t know English.”

No truer words have ever been written.

Alok Says:

@lazlo, just look at Colin’s posts and his criticisms towards America. Arthur Ashe stadium having no roof was criticized by him because Americans love to build the biggest.

I was watching a PBS program when the Queen visited the US some years ago, and the English woman in charge of the arrangements took a nasty dig at the US by saying (not verbatim) that we are two similar countries divided by the English language. She elaborated that we don’t know how to speak English. ouch. My GF, who is English, was embarassed because she was the only Brit among 6 Americans in the room, and it was on her insistence that we watched the program.

Dave Says:

I predict Nadal will not play again this year. He has nothing to gain (unless he is secretly preparing for the World Tour Finals).

I predict Nadal will play the hardcourt events of Abu Dhabi and Doha because he probably gets $1.5 million per event.

I predict Nadal will get to Melbourne in one piece.

As I said before, Nadal probably just took the rest of the season off since he knows he is unlikely to win the year-end No.1 this year (after losing Wimbledon so early) and since he has enough year-to-date points to keep him at No. 4 until at least Australian Open, so his ranking is safe (with or without protection). Thereafter, he’ll probably play in South America in February (three clay events total 1,000 points) and then we’ll see where he goes. 2013 is a new year where he can work to win the necessay points for the No.1 ranking. Meanwhile he has all these months to upgrade his racquet and strings as well as make improvements to his game in order to come back with a bang. Btw, if Nadal wants to take a break after 10 years and , he’s earned it (Rafa’s 705 matches is 7th most among active players… Hewitt is No. 2 with 779 matches, Federer No.1 with 1,062 matches).

How unhealthy could Nadal’s left knee really be? His knees are probably already 100% fine.

How could Nadal’s knees have become more injured than the day he lost to Rosol — over three months ago? Nadal ran like a rabbit at Wimbledon and never once called for the trainer. Yet when he has a big defeat — blasted off the court in the second round by the ATP 1,000000.01 player — he suddenly announces a serious set of injuries (partially-torn kneecap tendon, inflamed infra-kneecap fat pad, knee tendinitis) that knocks him off the tour for the next 20 weeks? In tennis history, there may not be another player who has gotten more attention for ‘injuries’ for so long (seven years) without going for even one surgery. Benito is such a good publicist for Nadal. Lol.

If Nadal was really injured, the last thing on his mind would be to make arrangements to play unnecessary hardcourt exhibition events in Abu Dhabi at year end — as well as another ‘hardcourt’ exhibition next March in New York.

The ‘injured’ Nadal competed in a golf tournament during the US Open weekend, coming in 13th. Since Rafa plays golf right-handed the stress is on his left knee (‘injured’) whenever he swings his clubs. Knee injuries are the second most common golf injuries (e.g., Tiger Woods). But of course Nadal got ‘permission’ from his personal doctor to play golf (just like I used to get my doctor to give me medical notes to skip school, lol).

The beleaguered Nadal claimed he was in pain during the French Open (AP: “Nadal said he played with anti-inflammatories to get through the French Open”).
Yet two days after the Monday FO final, Nadal started playing on Halle grass (two rounds) — both singles AND DOUBLES (see link)!

In fact Nadal also played a lot of hard court doubles during Indian Wells (won doubles title) and Miami (two rounds), despite using his knee injury excuse to withdraw from a semifinal match against Murray in Miami. [In 2008, Nadal skipped both the Tennis Masters Cup (World Tour Finals) in Shanghai and the Davis Cup finals in Argentina claiming to have knee problems. Yet Nadal played doubles in both his last two events — Madrid indoors and Paris indorrs — partnering Juan Monaco and Carlos Moya, so he definitely was not preparing for the Davis Cup final].

Nadal claimed his knees were in pain since February (hoffa syndrome).
Yet Nadal played nine tournaments (that’s his maximum schedule in recent years): Indian Wells (S & D), Miami (S & D), Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, French Open, Halle (S & D), Wimbledon, including three doubles events. Is that the schedule of an injured person? Nadal’s large, experiened team would have advised him not to play so much if he was seriously injured. [Roger Federer withdrew from Halle in 2007 (groin injury), 2009 (‘exhaustion’) and 2011 (groin injury) even though he is favored to win this grass tournament. After Miami, Federer deliberately sacrificed Monte Carlo Master’s 1,000 points, and played no tennis between Miami and Madrid in order to heal niggling feet and other injuries from playing so much in February and March (Davis Cup, Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami).]

Nadal, if really injured, could have rested his supposed injury at Halle (250 points) and Barcelona (500 points) which are non-mandatory tournaments. Instead he played them. Let’s not kid ourselves, he played both events for the huge appearance fees, like he is doing at Abu Dhabi. The British media reported that Nadal was paid $1.2 million dollars (£750,000) per year to play Halle for the next three years — that’s almost 8 times what Halle champion Tommy Haas got in prize money.

I checked the news media in Spain (even on Mallorca), and I’ve found many inconsistencies in Team Nadal’s stories.

There’s a lot more I could write if I had time. Bottom line, from my analysis, while Nadal has probably has been playing with some injuries, it’s probably not that serious or career threatening, not even the big drama in late 2005. Injuries are probably just a convenient excuse to cover up Nadal’s voluntary time off from the ATP World Tour.

nadalista Says:

^^^^thank you, visiting Professor of Rafaism. Your fantastic analysis is well taken.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Dave, I hope you are right that Nadal is not that injured, however, I feel that he would not have pulled out of the olympics just for the sake of it. He could have played the olympics then take his ‘sabatical’. Why would he give up the glory of being his country’s flag bearer?

There were pictures, taken surreptitiously in the locker room during the FO, of him having treatment on his knees daily. I believe that he’s had niggling injuries all his career but has never had the nerve to take the time off to properly sort it out. He says he’s been plaing in pain all his life.

Maybe he didn’t need to take the rest of the year off, but as you point out, he doesn’t have much to lose in the rankings. This long break might also cure him of his homesickness. Last year he said he felt like he’d been on tour for a 100 years and that he was not motivated. I hope he comes back revitalised.

Giles Says:

Sooooo many criticisms, predictions, analyses. Bottom line – Rafa will be back when he feels he is good and ready. End of!

Dave Says:

‘Rafael Nadal cleared for Australian Open’: “Rafa did text last week and we had direct communication with him and he is planning to be back towards the end of the year and definitely play in the Australian Open.”

Polo Says:

English is my second language. I don’t mind being corrected. In fact, I welcome it because that is how I learn. I am all for proper grammar and spelling.

nadalista Says:

@dave October 3rd, 2012 at 7:45am

One appreciates your NEED to report on everything Rafa, but dude, this is OLD news. Where u been, under a rock? Even the cave-men of Tora Bora have internet……geez.



skeezer Says:


+1 on your post, great stuff.


RZ Says:

Apparently Toni Nadal just held a press conference and said that Rafa will return to training in 15 days. They are hopeful for London WTF and Davis Cup finals.

trufan Says:

WTF as the venue for Nadal to return after a 5 month layoff? All I can say is WTF….

Just doesn’t make sense. Its his least favored surface, fast indoors, where he can’t moonball and retrieve everything. To say he will be rusty is an understatement.

I think that’s just something he might have said to create news. I don’t think Nadal will play before the warm up tournaments for the AUS open.

What he should really do is to just take a longer break and heal fully – and come back to the clay court season in April. That way he can ease back into tennis on his favorite surface, rather than start grinding again on hard courts. He has a better shot of winning more slams if he just plays from Apr – Jul – the clay and grass season. He could still win several clay titles, perhaps a slam, every year, and protect his body for many years. His chance of winning a hard court slam now is really slim anyway, with Murray finally coming into his own. Remember, Murray and Djoke are both younger than Nadal by a year, and at least as fit as he is, with a two handed backhand. No way is he dominating them on hard courts any more.

Stick to clay mate.

RZ Says:

Trufan, I generally agree with you that it’s best for Rafa to wait until he’s fully healed before coming back. But he’s probably worried about his ranking. If he sits out until the Aussie Open, chances are he’ll keep that #4 ranking and doesn’t wouldn’t have the potential of facing Djoker until the semis of most big tournaments. But if he sits out longer than that, Ferrer could very well pass him (and very likely would if Rafa loses his Aussie finalist points). I’m sure Rafa wants to avoid meeting Djokovic until at least the semis of the majors and the Masters series tournaments.

Giles Says:

https://www.facebook.com/NadalNews/posts/150996178376629. Trufan. This is what Toni said. Nothing is certain.

Sienna Says:

A player who takes a break or time of is looking at returning to fitness level required about 1 on 1 month means 1 month before he is back.

6 months of resting and fooling around would mean that his known match fitness level should be back in prime shape end march begin april.
Just in time for the clay swing.

trufan Says:


“Uncle Toni” says a lot of things, I wouldn’t give much credit to that (including illegal oncourt coaching of course).

Its not the cardio capacity that goes – I am sure Nadal has been working out in other ways to stay fit. Its the hand eye coordination and instincts that weaken during such a long break. Plus, for someone like Nadal who is now 26+, but has been playing the tour intensely for 8-9 years – the break must have really shown him the “good” side of life, that its not all about pumping iron (and whatever else he pumps) and exercising, practising for 8, 10 hours a day. That’s all he has been doing since he was a teenager with nothing in his pocket. Now he is a super rich guys, who has been finally tasting good life for 4 months. Will he come back and work that hard again (and again, at his age – granted, 26 is not very old, but it is certainly an age at which most players fall off the winning cliff).

As for age, consider this – when Nadal right now is as old as:

1. Borg at the end of 1982 (never won a slam after that)
2. Mcenroe in the middle of 1985 (never won a slam after that).
3. Lendl at the end of 1986 (he did win two more slams in 1987, and then two more finally – but he was probably the hardest working tennis player ever).
4. Becker in the middle of 1994 (just won ONE slam after that).
5. Edberg at the end of 1992 (never won a slam after that).
6. Wilander at the end of 1990 (never won a slam after that).
7. Sampras in early 1998 (did win 4 slams after that).
8. Agassi at the end of 1996 (won FIVE slams after that – but Agassi was really the exception).

So as you can see, Nadal is at an age after which even the very top players in the open era have either won no slams, or a few slams. And if you set 27 years of age as the cutoff, these numbers drop even further.

So its not like Nadal has many years left to be at the top and dominate. Lets see – if he loses the French next year, he may not recover from that blow this time.

trufan Says:

BTW, Agassi took a year and a half off and had to play challengers to get back into “tennis shape”. Not saying that Nadal will drop down that much – but six months is a long time to be away from competition.

As for rankings – he is definitely not in good shape. Its not going to be easy to even defend his 1200 points at the AUS open. He has to win 6 matches to do that. If Ferrer has a good end to the season, and reaches the semi of the AUS open while Nadal loses early, Nadal could be out of the top 4 for the first time in a long time. And he can’t really make up too many points until wimbledon.

alison Says:

People could be right,and they could be wrong,it does not bode well obviously,but never has doesnt always mean never will,who knows Nadal may be the exception to the rule,and one thing is for sure the guys such a fighter and will certainly give it his best shot,i think personally we should be wise to wait and see, instead of writing out the obituraries just yet.

Giles Says:

Trufan. “Uncle Toni” says a lot of things… ” and you certainly say a lot more. Save it, we don’t need to hear your rants.

steve-o Says:

Next year, Nadal is going to play only:

a) Clay-court tournaments;
b) the Grand Slams;
c) Indian Wells (his best hard court event);

Possibly he will play:

d) Miami;
e) WTF.

He will skip everything else. It will become increasingly transparent that he doesn’t give a damn about the rest of the tour.

As an ATP professional, he’s obligated to play a certain number of tournaments a year. He’s exploiting the injury loophole as an excuse to duck this obligation because a) he hates to lose and b) he can’t physically sustain a high level of play throughout the entire year.

All this just proves how farcical the rules are. Enforcement is lax. Apparently it’s enough for Nadal to find a friendly doctor to write a new note every few weeks saying he’s suddenly developed a completely different ailment, and he can skip whatever tournaments he likes, completely circumventing the rules that everyone else obeys.

I mean if he were a kid going to school and pulling this kind of crap to play hooky half the year, the principal would have done a full-on investigation and expelled him by now.

But I suppose the ATP can’t even exercise even as much diligence as any halfway competent school principal would.

And I don’t think he will have any problems in the Grand Slams. It will be very comical to see people try to explain away how someone who skips 2/3 of the season with supposedly crippling injuries can, within a week, become an unstoppable force in Grand Slam play.

He just gets physically stronger and faster in a week’s time and then mauls top players by pounding the ball with brute power and running like a marathoner to retrieve every single shot until the opponent collapses from exhaustion.

The likely source of this physical power is pharmaceutical. And deep down his fans are starting to understand this too–that’s why they are either reluctantly admitting (even if only to themselves in their most secret of hearts) that he might be juicing, or they’re becoming ever more delusional in their defense of him and grasping at ever more ridiculous explanations for his patterns, or like Giles and EITMO, they’re getting blatantly authoritarian and demanding that others shut up about any topic they don’t like.

And this division is likely to become even more deep-seated in the future.

Because Nadal and his team, they just keep pushing. Give ’em an inch and Tio Toni takes ten miles.

The doping will become more obvious because the older he gets the more they will have to juice him to get the same result. The difference between unjuiced Nadal and juiced Nadal in his youth was significantly smaller than the difference between unjuiced and juiced Nadal now.

The rulebreaking will become increasingly flagrant because they’ve never suffered any meaningful consequences for it and they always want more: more special privileges, more money, more freedom from onerous obligations, etc.

The drive to break Federer’s Grand Slam record will become ever more frantic because Federer will, contrary to their expectations, continue to win into his thirties and they’ll be chasing an ever-moving target instead of the safe, fixed goal they thought they were after.

If you always keep pushing, at some point, you just push a little too far. And then reality pushes back, there are consequences, which you can’t undo no matter how hard you try.

I feel for those like alison who’ve invested themselves emotionally in Nadal. Because Nadal and his team have no respect for the tour or his fans. If they did, they wouldn’t use on-court coaching, they wouldn’t abuse the injury rules the way they do, they wouldn’t juice, and they wouldn’t toy with the fans’ hopes and emotions the way they do, stringing them along with announcements of crippling injury followed by tantalizing promises of return.

Winning is the only thing that matters for them–and it’s not enough for them to win the most trophies, they have to be the most loved, the most special, etc.

Ultimately, Nadal’s fans are being set up for colossal disappointment and betrayal. When the real story comes out (and believe me, it will) I think many people will be truly appalled at the lengths to which they went to win. It will be a genuine, real-life horror story.

It’s just a game! There are more important things than winning all the time. But they simply don’t get that.

lazlo Says:

You are right about Colin. Maybe he is anti-American or maybe he is just a geezer.

Rafael Says:

Except for the rafa fans and some other cunning/pretending fans, no one cares for rafa’s boring defensive game.

he’s a little faster than murray/ferrer and has more consistency in avoiding errors than those 2, but murray has much more variety than rafa and his game is much more fun to watch than rafa’s junk balling.

is the davis cup final in spain? if not, forget it! rafa ain’t coming for that unless spain can get the dubai/abudhabi guys to share some of their money bags with them.

Rafael Says:

trivia question for rafa fans : when did rafa last play a davis cup final

a) outside spain?

b) outside europe?

you can draw a lot of conclusions from those numbers!

Margot Says:

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except a common language.” Oscar Wilde 1887. It’s nothing to do with whether one nation or other is superior. It’s to do with semantics. eg. and without much thought: randy, sidewalk, mall, drag, suck it up, pony up etc.
As a matter of fact I disagree with Colin’s point. a) language is primarily about communication and, as long as I can understand what someone on here means, I don’t care at all about spelling, grammar etc.
However, paragraphs do aid understanding…;)
b)Anyway part of the charm of language is the way it is organic, changing and developing all the time. It’s a bit like a thief, stealing from everywhere. Even “fortress France” has absorbed some English words eg “Le week end.”
I personally, in this modern world, don’t think anything in the English language is set in stone. How can it be?
Expect you’ll be shocked Colin, but don’t expect the apostrophe to endure much longer…..;)

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Margot, I disagree with you. There are certain things that are set in stone in the English grammar, such as not mistaking ‘you’re’ for ‘your’.

Your is equivalent to ‘my’ and I’m is equivalent to you’re, so you can’t say it doesn’t matter if you say ‘my’ instead of ‘I’m’.

grendel Says:

“I personally, in this modern world, don’t think anything in the English language is set in stone.”

That’s always been true, Margot, though it is happening much more rapidly now, admittedly. Another way of putting it is that language evolves, along with everything else.

I would guess that in, say, a couple of hundred years, many of the different types of English spoken in different parts of the world will have diverged to the extent that they become unintelligible to English people. And here again is a fascinating parallel with evolution. Did you know that the nearest relative to the whale is the hippopotamus? Took time….

Further to Oscar’s witty comment, I was in Miami recently, and trying to get some directions. Unfortunately, everyone I stopped spoke only Spanish. Eventually, I came across an American of Anglo origins. Gratefully, I spluttered out that it was good to finally come across someone who spoke English.
“Oh, I don’t speak ENGLISH”, the American replied blandly.

grendel Says:

“become unintelligible to English people” and (I should have added) become distinct languages. I imagine this sort of thing has happened again and again in the history of language going right back to the origins – of which, unfortunately, we have no knowledge whatever. So fascinating to speculate, so hopeless…

grendel Says:

steve-o –

re Nadal. You make your usual eloquent analysis of Nadal’s style, but it is a colourful one. There are huge numbers of people, you know, who adore Nadal’s brand of tennis. Other peoples’ tastes are often hard to fathom – but: how can I put it? I recall the biologist Lewis Wolpert once remarking that our objections to certain types of behaviour, whilst couched in solemn moral terms, are in fact sometimes little more than a sort of extended “yuk!” I am not referring here, b.t.w. to your comments on drugs, a subject of which I know little.

I do agree with you that the Nadal team from very early on has had its sights on the grand slam record, which in effect meant overhauling Federer. And as you say, it must have come as an unpleasant surprise that in 2012, Nadal made no gain on Federer.

But the sheer ferocity of the Nadal campaign has hugely added spice to the world of tennis. Just think, without Nadal, Federer’s march to all time glory would have been a kind of procession. Now a lot of people would have liked that, and can’t forgive Nadal for interrupting the royal progress. I absolutely understand this mentality, having shared it. I sense something like frustration in some of your comments, as if you would like to brush Nadal away. But maybe I am only talking about myself, I don’t know. The writer Lawrence once remarked “we shed our sickness in books”, and I think that idea can be generally true. I have learnt a fair amount about myself through following tennis, some of it disagreeable.

I am not convinced that Nadal’s urge to win is any stronger than Federer’s. The style is very different, but the underlying steel and fierce resolve is the same. That’s what makes the rivalry so compelling. But I wouldn’t say it is exactly harmless.

I don’t kn

Dave Says:

skeezer: thanks mate.



EIETMO: Honestly, Olympics is overrated. What’s he going to say, that he does not care to be a flag bearer or care for the Olympics? Of course he has to say how much the Olympics and the honor of carrying the flag means to him. However, the flag bearer gets publicity for a few minutes. Had Nadal failed to defend the gold medal, it would have affected his image even more. And it’s likely the quality of Federer, Murray and Djokovic at Wimbledon told team Nadal it would be hard to win another gold medal. In any case he has already got one medal (another won’t do anything for his resume).

With Benito, Nadal has managed to turn his injury soap opera into a publicity bonanza for him that’s bigger than had he played the Olympics. really, there is no need for him to be continually releasing snippets on his injuries, his on-again, off-again comebacks. (btw, it’s Benito’s job to ensure that “pictures, taken surreptitiously in the locker room during the FO, of him having treatment on his knees daily”).

This is a list of active players who have played the most matches (Roddick used to be No.2 before he retired). Players marked with asterisk * are those plagued with injuries. Hewitt, Hass and Ferrero have had surgery as extensive periors away from the game. I could probably add Federer to that group given his injuries/illnesses in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010. There seems to be some correlation between number of matches played and injuries. Almost every player is playing with some sort of pain, even Federer. All things considered, Nadal has lasted far longer than most players, he’s in a phase of career where injuries are to be expected even for, and several other players over the past nine years have had it worse than Nadal.

1. Roger Federer (1,062 matches)
2. Lleyton Hewitt* (779)
3. Tommy Haas* (777)
4. Nikolay Davydenko* (748)
5. Juan Carlos Ferrero* (740)
6. David Ferrer (719)
7. Rafael Nadal* (705)

Regardless, if he wants to take time off as an injury preventive measure and to recharge his batteries, he should do it. 2013 is a new beginning, where he can fight for slams and year end number one. Like I said, he has nothing much to gain fighting Djokovic, Federer and Murray on hard courts in 2012.


nadalista: I didn’t realize you’ve been posting from Tora Bora. Now it all makes sense: all these months you’ve been manifesting radiation sickness from the depleted uranium munitions, lol.

nadalista Says:


Ho-hum……go find some other stale Rafa news to cut and paste, you have a crush on him after all.


nadalista Says:

………..Ah well, as expected, we will see a ratcheting up of the anti-Rafa diatribes now that Rafa is close to returning on tour, courtesy of Professor @dave………complete with graphs, venn diagrams, voice-over commentary of course!!

Can’t wait…..

Vamos Rafa!!!

Margot Says:

I was in a cafe in a small Californian sea side town and asked for a cup of coffee. The waitress could not understand me. After repeating myself about 5 times, I was beginning to wonder how the heck I should ask. Finally she twigged I wanted a “caw-fee.”
Well, if it were a Professor of English at Oxford writing of course I would be gobsmacked by grammatical/spelling errors but on a tennis blog? Heck no. As I said, as long as u can get the gist of what someone’s saying, I really feel that’s all that matters.

Tennislover Says:

steve-o – I can not recall any top player in the last two decades who has stretched – and violated – the limits of the laws and the spirit of the game as consistently frequently and arrogantly as Raf has. In this aspect, he perpetually lives on the edge unlike his tennis. His on-court shenanigans are absolutely deplorable. He gets away with it always because the officials do not show any guts in enforcing the rules against a top star like Rafa. This has turned the illegal and unethical into the norm. The time limit between points is observed more in the breach and, since it happens so frequently, people have just gotten used to it and very few get agitated about it. This has been one of my pet peeves because this nonsense can easily be stopped. Illegal coaching and dubious time-outs are much more difficult to ascertain and punish but, I agree, he rarely misses a trick. As some poster said sometime back, it seems he has been trained to be a winning machine to win by hook or by crook and brainwashed into indulging in different kinds of gamesmanship almost automatically
depending on the need. I think the wily uncle Toni – who asked him to respect his racket but, apparently, not the rules and spirit of the game – has to take a lot of the blame for this kind of tennis upbringing since Raf seems, by most accounts, a very nice person off the court even though I don’t like his generally oh-so-sweet and banal interviews which seem PR-influenced. As Raf’s mother said a few years ago, she couldn’t believe how his normally affable son transformed into an entirely different person on the court. Bit of a Jekyll and Hyde here. A lovely boy off court and an ugly man on it.

The elaborate and ongoing soap opera from his camp about his knees, injuries and fatigue are
again aimed at extracting the maximum sympathy for him and force changes to address his concerns and they have had some success too. Benito has really done a brilliant job and this narrative is now questioned by very few people although Raf’s deplorable statements about hard courts, which are the most competitive compared to clay or even today’s grass and responsible for the game’s global popularity and growth, probably reflect a bit of desperation since he has never been able to dominate on that surface.

Maybe, I am being cruel and Raf could be in more pain than any other player on tour and his team manages his condition very well but one never sees any obvious manifestation or effects when he is playing that immensely physical game and retrieving everything in sight. Surely, it can not be so bad as it has not prevented him
from playing for so long and winning so much. If anything, he has optimized his potential and I am sure will win a lot more when he decides to get back on tour.

I don’t know about others but I get the feeling that Raf has shown a bit of mental fragility in his inability to shake off shock losses. A guy, who wins just about everything on clay, suffers a shock and bitterly disappointing loss while playing pretty well against a player playing at an incredibly high level and that is attributed to injury just like in the case of his loss to Sod at RG. Since Raf is perpetually injured and/or tired, his losses are due to the injuries and and his wins are in-spite of the injuries. A fit and healthy Rafa simply can not lose and the aura and the myth have to be built, reinforced and perpetuated all the time.

I disagree about the juicing though. I know a of people think he is an obvious suspect and not getting caught because the cheats are always one step ahead and masking methods have made detection difficult. However, if this is the reason he is not getting caught, I am sure
there are others who are doing it as well. Therefore, in the absence of any positive test, it seems unfair to single him out and presume he must be doing it.

Tennislover Says:

“Giles, EIEIMO, and Colin are all into spell checking and grammar. Wonder why?”

Colin is, or at least likes to be, the resident grammarian – a self-appointed one but a very good one although he is very selective in his admonitions. I think he genuinely gets disturbed and offended when he comes across the “modern” twists and turns of the language. He is, in all probability, a man on the wrong side of 70s and still thinks Fowler’s English is the only way to go. While I am thrilled just by the very fact that such an elderly and experienced person is in our midst because of his love for the game, I do agree with others that language evolves and so long as there is no breakdown in communication in terms of the intended thoughts getting conveyed, we should not get too sensitive about grammar and spelling errors given the fact that a lot of posters’ first language is not English. The reasons behind the “sensitiveness” of Eietmo and Giles were different since they had nothing to rebut John with when he showed them the mirror.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Obviously, on a tennis blog it doesn’t really matter about grammar because it’s an international environment and I take my hat off to anyone who can come and communicate on a blog in a foreign language.

What I don’t subscribe to is that anything goes for English speaking people, in general. It’s killing the language when people now say ‘would of’ for ‘would have’ I cringe. Do they not wonder what on earth ‘would of’ means?

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Tennislover, Nadal has won more on h/c than Federer has won on clay.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

There are no prizes for guessing who is the most talked about tennis player on the planet.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Rafael Says:

“Except for the rafa fans and some other cunning/pretending fans, no one cares for rafa’s boring defensive game.”

What do you base that on? Have a look at what people feel about Rafa’s absence

U.S. Open seems a little flat without Rafael Nadal
BILL DWYRE U.S. Open seems a little flat without Rafael Nadal

BILL DWYRE August 29, 2012

Weeks after he pulled out of the Olympics, Nadal is sitting out the Open because of a nagging injury. That’s a loss for the game, and for fans, who miss his power and aggression.

This year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament is a party without the balloons. They are serving cake with no frosting.

grendel Says:


A strongly felt post – but you do still admire Nadal’s tennis qua tennis? I remember when I first became aware of your posts, I thought you were a Nadal fan. You replied that you weren’t but that you could see how someone might think so, and you were full of excitement for where Nadal’s tennis might go. None of that is inconsistent with the strictures on Nadal’s gamesmanship you bring up, but it does show an unusual degree of detachment. It is definitely possible – I used to dislike Ian Botham, not that I thought he cheated, whilst enjoying his cricket.

I disagree with this on timekeeping:”this nonsense can easily be stopped.” If it could easily be stopped, why isn’t it? It’s a bit like war, isn’t it? I’ve always wondered at those soldiers who go charging off in front to break a siege etc. It’s obvious they are sacrificing themselves, they will die, probably horribly – but someone’s got to do it if the rest are to have a chance.

Bit like that here, isn’t it? Can you imagine calling Nadal or another top player for a second time? A point is then deducted, possibly at a crucial moment or possibly the ensuing fuss disturbs the player’s focus so that he then goes on to lose. One can only imagine the behind the scenes recriminations. Would the ATP stand behind their umpire, or would they quietly put him out to grass? That must be a concern of any umpire, I would imagine.

Once the logjam is broken, though….

alison Says:

Dont get me wrong,as i dont condone Rafas antics for one single minute,the MTOs,the on court coaching,the time between points,or any gamesmanship,but what i do find irritating is him been singled out ,like hes the only one,not saying two wrongs make a right either,but the likes of Novak and Delpo are no angels on that score either,bouncing the ball a gazillion times,and people conviniently forgot about the MTO Novak took when Andy was serving for the match in the USO final,or that gun incident with Tipsaravic which was in very poor taste,it all smacks of double standards,as for the doping thats all based on speculation posters putting two and two together,while i wouldnt like to say he isnt doping as i dont know,but then again we could say that about absolutely any of the players.

trufan Says:

Nadal’s knees are done. These type of injuries never heal completely.

Look at Delpo. his wrist is largely done. It will never be the way it was. Guga never recovered from his hip problem. Philipousis never recovered from his knee problem. Hewitt’s toe never really healed up. Haas’s knees – done, done, done.

While he will surely recover partially and come back and play on and off, it can never be 100%. For someone like Nadal whose game requires him to run like a rabbit all the time – he needs those knees to be 100%.

A few tough long matches on hard courts – and he will again take a break.

But with Nadal, who knows.

He seemed to be playing perfectly at the French. Then there was ABSOLUTELY no sign of knee trouble at wimbledon, until he lost that really close five setter to Rosol. Then, like clockwork, came the injury information.

I know most people like to think naively and scorn about conspiracy theory type suggestions – but what he has said doesn’t make sense. Who know, perhaps it takes six months to clear up one’s blood after a transfusion – magically, he will start playing again six months later. Just like the cyclists, he may have chosen to “do something” post his wimbledon loss, take a breather, get everything cleaned up, and come back fresh. In any case, the rest of the year has almost always been miserable for him, so he didn’t really miss much, from his perspective. He already has an olympic gold.

The second theory certainly makes more sense. What is the truth? Neither I know that, NOR ANYONE ON THIS FORUM. we just have to think hard about what makes more sense. You can’t be running like a rabbit winning slams, then suddenly say, just after an unexpected loss, that you have had an injury and pain for 3 months. Nope, doesn’t make sense.

jamie Says:

xmike Says:

he will play the exo, get the appearance fee, then say he “is not ready” or some crap like that and miss the tour until dubai/south american clay tournaments, therefore completing his 6 month silent ban for doping, just like the conspiracy theorists have been saying all along.



He will probably just play clay and grass tournaments from now on. Maybe an odd HC tournament here or there. He will only be a factor on clay. On HC, grass, indoors he has no chance to win anything.

jamie Says:

3. Lendl at the end of 1986 (he did win two more slams in 1987, and then two more finally – but he was probably the hardest working tennis player ever).
4. Becker in the middle of 1994 (just won ONE slam after that).

7. Sampras in early 1998 (did win 4 slams after that).
8. Agassi at the end of 1996 (won FIVE slams after that – but Agassi was really the exception).



So the ones who won the most slams after 26 are Federer and Agassi with 5 slams.

Then Sampras and Lendl with 4 slams after 26.

Then Becker with 1 slam after 26.

IMO Nadal will be like Becker and win 1 more slam after 26. A RG title, not necessarily in 2013, it could be in 2014….

Federer already won his last slam this year, his fifth slam after 26 like Agassi did.

skeezer Says:

“There are no prizes for guessing who is the most talked about tennis player on the planet.”

Why do u keep talking abut Fed? I thought you were a Rafa fan?

“Nadal has won more on h/c than Federer has won on clay.”


“This year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament is a party without the balloons. They are serving cake with no frosting.”

It had cake(fed), frosting(nole) and ice cream(murray). Highest attendance ever.

jamie Says:


5 slams = Rod Laver
5 slams = Andre Agassi
5 slams = Roger Federer

4 slams = Ken Rosewall
4 slams = Ivan Lendl
4 slams = John Newcombe
4 slams = Pete Sampras

3 slams = Jimmy Connors

1 slam = Arthur Ashe
1 slam = Boris Becker
1 slam = Guillermo Vilas
1 slam = Andres Gomez
1 slam = Goran Ivanisevic

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Soooooo many who say they don’t like Rafa cannot stop talking about him. They never seem to have anything to say about any other player.

Nadal had all 4 of his wisdom teeth extracted and got a blood infection which affected the speed of his recovery.

Rafa please come back and shut all these people up.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

skeezer, I don’t talk about Fed as much as you talk about Rafa. I only talk about Fed in response to others.

Sienna Says:

The teethless Bull??

jamie Says:

The year players turn 27 is when the decline truly begins. Nobody won more than 5 slams starting with the year they turned 27.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Here is a blog someone wrote in 2009 after Rafa returned to the tour from injury

Rafa’s finished – FACT!
Masters Series
by knowledge is good (U14085196) 23 November 2009

“Compare Rafa’s hardcourt matches at the AO and the one we just witnessed, there is no comparison between the two the matches. The only conclusion we can take from it is at Rafa is finished. His spin shots are now not making any difference, his backhands are neutralised by his opponents forehand. Rafa has no tennis skill. Rafa is finished. Rafa WILL announce his retirement at some point next year, most likely after a dismal clay season.


What happened in 2010?

Rafa won the clay slam
Rafa won 3 slams
Rafa was confirmed the Y/E #1 half way through the year.
Rafa ended the year as #1

We’ve seen all the negativity before so it’s not new.

grendel Says:

alison – I think to some extent it is a matter of perception. You are right that Delpo can take a tremendously long time between points. But we feel with Delpo that here is a great big beanpole of a man, dragging himself lugubriously about the court, with just a whiff of Eyeore about him. It’s all such a tremendous effort, you know, having to work your way back to the service line when you may have had to come all the way from the net. You’d had to run at an unseemly pace to get to the net in the first place because the opposition had put in a sneaky drop shot – and they’re always doing that, just taking advantage of a fellow’s build – and it was all for nothing too, because when you got to the net you were so out of sorts that you gave the opposition an easy ball. And so then came the long, long trek back, with plenty of time to ponder on the deep unfairness of it all, and by the time you finally reached the service line, you had to go through the whole deploreably longwinded business of serving, and naturally it’s a fault. Which means you’ve got to go through this whole elaborate and very tiring series of movements all over again, and that is really a very melancholy thought,and you can’t help wondering whether you might not be drowning in a sense of futility or possibly, because you are a religious person, perhaps you are now entering the dark night of the soul and you had always been puzzled as to quite what this was and if this is it you have to admit those monk fellows are certainly put through it. And so it is necessary to pause for a little and reflect upon the topsy turvy way the world is organised, particularly for every big people like yourself when it is impossible to get a pair of shoes which fit and when you are tired and want nothing more than a good sleep,but you keep waking up because the bed isn’t long enough for you to stretch your legs, and they get cramped in the curled up position you have had no choice but to put them in. And meanwhile, you suppose you had better serve again now, although you are not entirely sure quite why you are doing it, and if the opposition drops you again you are going to sit down and have a rest.

Meanwhile, Nadal is scurrying around like Usain Bolt, except when it comes to the serving business. And then he seems to adopt the philosophy that the tortoise beats the hare every time. Somehow, this does not engage the viewer’s sympathy in the same way that delPo’s demeanour does.

trufan Says:

Of the list that Jamie gave above, if you put 27 as the cutoff age, the slams won drop drastically.

A TOTAL of 57 slams have been won in the open era by mens players 26 or older. 42 by men 27 or older. And many of them were in the 60s and 70s by players like Rosewall, Ashe, Laver, etc., which really is not relevant given the highly physical game today.

Only 25 slams won by players 27 or older since 1980.

Only 17 slams won (out of a possible 88), since 1990, by mens players 27 years or older. And most of those are by Federer, Sampras and Agassi.

So really, players don’t win too many slams after turning 26 or 27. Age 22-25 is when the maximum number of slams are won.

trufan Says:


Rafa was 23-24 in 2010. He will be 26-27 in 2013. THAT’S THE DIFERENCE.

Got it?
Plus Djoke and Murray are far better competitors today than they were in 2010.

jamie Says:


You can’t compare 2010 with 2013.

Nadal turns 27 in 2013. In 2008 was when Fed’s decline truly started.

Tennislover Says:

grendel – I understand your point about the brouhaha a docked point will cause but the logjam has got to be broken and, once it is broken and the rules are enforced consistently for some time, I have no doubt this nonsense will be contained and even prima donnas will fall in line. This is getting unbelievably absurd. I sometimes count the seconds and I have seen it going well over one minute occasionally. If you don’t contain it, the day is not far off when players will start taking their bottles and bananas along with their towels after breaks between games. I also know you dismiss on-court coaching as being useless but I am convinced that, depending on the situation, even a slight tactical adjustment can change the course of a match especially if a player is not focused enough for some reason. A second pair of expert eyes can sometimes spot issues that may not always strike the player easily or early enough.

I remember my post to you very well because I told you that I admired Raf’s achievements at
such a young age and I still do. Maybe, I did show an unusual degree of attachment and that is why you are surprised by the “detachment” reflected in my latest post. I don’t think the Botham analogy is apt and you are being very unfair to him by comparing him to Raf. Raf is in a league of his own.

I was also genuinely wondering, in the wake of Raf’s tour de force in the USO 2010 final against Djoko, how much higher he could go. I didn’t like watching him play in the early part of his career but his offensive game has improved so much that I have found myself watching his matches more and more over the last three or four years. His monster off forehand is an incredibly unbelievable shot and he can turn defense into offense in a jiffy. His fh is, especially when he flattens it out, one of the most consistently destructive shots in the game. I would watch his matches even more if he could only move it on a bit more. I don’t like spending four hours watching a match if it should have finished in three and a half. It is also so unfair to his opponent if he is observing the rules. I have frankly learnt to ignore his gamesmanship as much as possible just like the players and fans have but that doesn’t mean I can’t point it out. I think I have done it for the first time here on this blog. I do feel strongly about the points I
made in my post. It is the sheer frequency of his misdemeanors that forces me to pick him out.

I just found the post and the relevant thread. It seems we had a nice exchange. I generally am not able to post that much. Nice to go a bit down memory lane and see how wrong I was about the threat Djoko could pose to Raf in best of five based only on that USO final. SOME egg on my face now.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Let’s all wait and see.

jane Says:

jamie says “SLAMS WON AFTER THE AGE OF 26” – does this mean 27 and up or after the players have turned 26?

Tennislover Says:

eietmo – My point was about hard courts being the most competitive and fair surface. You will find hard courts all over the world and all kinds of players are able to play well on it. Clay is the most specialist surface even today and grass, despite being slower and higher-bouncing these days, still requites very good movement especially if it is fresh and sleek. The point is not really about Fed vs Raf. It was not meant to show that Raf couldn’t win on hard. He has won AO and USO and even though conditions have slowed down there especially at AO, Raf has done well to win these two majors and to reach the final at least once more. I just think domination on hard courts is much more tough, and therefore commendable, than domination on clay or grass. Fed’s five USO wins on the trot on a fair surface for all the players – the courts were slowed down some years back – are more impressive in my opinion than his seven Wimby titles. Of course, you are entitled to believe whatever you want to.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Tennislover, if Federer was the King of Clay you would have a different view.

Tennislover Says:

alison – I am sorry if I upset you. You are probably a genuinely nice person. You are right that many others do indulge in gamesmanship. NOBODY is a saint but there are offenders and there are repeat offenders. When it just becomes a habit because you know nobody is gonna sanction you, the case become different from others. In any case, I was talking about the top players of the last two decades or so. Yes, Djoko has/had his issues and Murray has his. Ultimately, you have to go by the volume of evidence to determine who does it almost as a matter of routine. Then, there is the matter of perception although it doesn’t justify Delpo’s time wasting but as grendel so dramatically explained in his inimitable style, it somehow does not appear all that bad given his slow movement. Raf is like a hare within a point and a tortoise between points.

I’d rather express what I honestly feel than tell you sweet little lies to appear a “nice and fair” poster. Sorry to you and other nice Raf fans here..

grendel Says:


Goodness me, two years ago – seems like an eternity, looking over some of those posts. Some old names – you wonder what’s happened to them. And a lot of posts from Contador, very good ones with a unique flavour – where is she? Just taking a bit of time off?

As for the egg on your face, ho ho, don’t we all have that in abundance! One thing – I noticed we discussed the possible emergence of new talent. Two years on and movement – almost nil! That’s depressing.
“I don’t think the Botham analogy is apt and you are being very unfair to him by comparing him to Raf”. The analogy may not have been apt, but I did say that he didn’t cheat. My dislike of him was on personal grounds, which had nothing to do with cricket. But sometimes a dislike like this can get in the way of your enjoyment of what the player does well – and in this case, it didn’t. I found Botham’s cricket exhilerating and very unEnglish, too. I don’t really dislike him any more. In the end, all the old devils take on a sort of nostalgic hue….

jamie Says:


Slams won starting the year they hit 27.

Federer since 2008, Sampras since 1998, etc.

trufan Says:

Federer on grass and Nadal on clay are pretty comparable, in terms of their record.

Federer on clay and Nadal on grass are pretty comparable.

Its on hard courts where Federer very clearly draws ahead of Nadal, with 9 hard court slams to 2 for Nadal, and 50+ hard court titles to perhaps less than 10 for Nadal, 6 YEC to zero for Nadal.

Given that 75% of tennis is played on hard courts, and that’s where most players from most countries are most comfortable playing, there is maximum and toughest competition on hard courts. Its also the hardest on the body. The fact that Federer’s record completely dwarfs Nadal’s on this surface speaks for itself.

alison Says:

Steve O thanks for your kind words,and i have to say i dont for a single minute condone what Rafa does at times emotional investment or not,im not the type of fan who is blind to their favorites flaws,if as people suspect he is doping,then hes the one who will have to look at himself in the morning in a mirror if in fact its true, hes the one who has to live with himself,my concience is clear the only thing ive done wrong is follow his tennis for my sins,my life will go on the way it always has work,sleep,eat,drink whatever,i enjoy watching tennis but my whole world doesnt revolve around tennis or Rafa,his life will change dramatically though as his reputation will be in tatters,however i dont know he isnt doping anymore than anyone else knows that he is,hes just as likely or unlikely as any other player,so on that basis,for now i will just think we should all give him the benifit of the doubt.

alison Says:

Tennislover no appology is nesassary honestly,i dont have a problem with objective critisim,i think its better to be honest than skirt around an issue with BS.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

alison, I know you are trying to be neutral, but I just find your views on Nadal doping or not a little bit diatasteful, to tell you the truth. You are just playing into the hands of people who accuse him of something on which they have never had any evidence.

You may not be emotionally involved, whatever that means, but you sound as bad as those who actually hate him for one reason or another.

I found your post just as disturbing as those of the people who are actually up front about wanting to damage his reputation.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

I feel really sad reading a post like that from a fan of Rafa’s. Such a shame that Rafa has to endure his reputation being questioned for absolutely no reason. A real shame!!!!!!!!

I wonder how Rafa feels when he sees these baseless accusations in print and people doubting his integrity.

skeezer Says:

“I only talk about Fed in response to others.”



Don’t be ashamed, be enlightened. You’re beautiful.

Giles Says:

Wonder why “Blue Cat” is planning an assassination on Fed on the 6th October? What’s going on? Hope there is ample security around him.

alison Says:

E.I.E.T.M.O im sorry you feel that way,but i dont really understand why you are upset,yes im been neutral because neutraly i dont know whats going on anymore than anyone else,i dont believe he is doping,as i dont believe for all his faults that he would be that stupid, as a fan of course i am emotionally invoved,the way any fan is about their favorite,but i cant condone the antics as its not the way i opperate,sorry no hard feelings.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Never mind alison, at least you are popular with Rafa haters.

alison Says:

Thanks Skeezer.

skeezer Says:


What is wrong with a fan who can’t approve of EVERYTHING there fav says or does?
At least it is not obsessive complusive. Sounds like a well rounded individual to me.

Kimberly Says:

I’m another one who doesn’t think Rafa is perfect. But I will say, if he’s doping,its quite likely Djokovic and Federer are too. The doping discussion on this forum is largely unintelligent and only a few posters actually seem to get it.

If one is using its quite likely they all or most of them are. Doping is huge in all sports and the dopers are generally six months ahead of the testers. To date, there is no effective test for HGH. To be honest, my husband and I operate under a presumption of guilt. And no, Federer and Djokovic are skinny but there are a million different PEDS and many don’t get you big. So to me, unless you prove otherwise, they all are using especially some of the women.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

skeezer, shame you are not ’rounded’ yourself.

Of course alison says the kind of things you want to hear and she gives credence to those who point fingers at Rafa just because they don’t like him.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

I don’t believe in guilty until proven innocent.

alison Says:

Sometimes in life its not always the ones you suspect the most,that are the ones that are upto no good,sometimes its the ones that you suspect the least that are the ones upto no good,hmmm just a little food for thought.

alison Says:

E.I.E.T.M.O I think you need to read Kimberlys post again,as we seem to be on exactly the same wave length,if the haters glean some smug satisfaction just because i dared to speak the truth then so what,if it makes them happy let them get on with it, maybe they should try it sometimes,i have no intention of telling the haters what they want to hear,or playing into their hands as i have no time for haters,as far as im concerned its them with the problem not me,im giving my hoenest opinion thats all, however im not one to skirt around an issue with BS,never have never will.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

alison, sorry if I misunderstand where you are coming from but Rafa’s detractors seem to derive a lot of pleasure from what you say.

All I’m saying is that baseless accusations against anyone is not a reason for doubting them. I read Kimberley’s post, and I have to say the thought has NEVER crossed my mind that any player is taking PEDs. Why would that cross my mind?

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Call me naive, but I just don’t see what PEDs can do for a tennis player. Even if it gives them stamina to run for ever it can’t improve their serve or help them paint the lines or improve their technique in any way. What would be the point?

I’m sure none of the top players would be that stupid to sacrifice their reputation by doing anything like that.

alison Says:

E.I.E.T.M.O no problem,if the haters derive some pleasure from what i say then let them TBH i dont care,ive never had a problem with accepting objective critisism,when it turns into hatred i will ignore,as its not worth getting upset about,been there done that,gets you no where,the only thing i end up doing is wasting nervous energy,and i spend enough time doing that in the real world.

Kimberly Says:

EIETMO–PEDs can do a lot for any athlete. Until they end up dead. Explosive power, which is important in most sports including tennis, is aided by PEDs, as well as endurance.

skeezer Says:



“I’m sure none of the top players would be that stupid to sacrifice their reputation by doing anything like that.”


Ever heard of Mark McQuire? Broke the all time HR record in Baseball in a single season. Busted for PED. Milky Cabrera? This year, he held the batting title until he was suspended for PEDs. As Kimberly says it adds explosive power, but also much more than that, it can actually increase performance, and the numbers of players who have been caught prove it. That is why it is called P (Performance) E ( Enhanced ) D (Drugs ).

I can go on and on, it happens everywhere. Look where there is $ any player is tempted, as yes, it can increase there performance.

Why do they do it? In most cases that I know of, you can make millions using. Sure you’ll run the risk of getting caught, but in most cases you keep the money you’ve accumulated ( through using ) after you’ll get banned and/or suspended. Who cares? now you’ve got big money in the bank.

Until they make players give back the $ they’ve made, it will never stop.


BTW, I am on the record as NEVER accusing any player ( including your Love ) of using. Suspicions? I have my own. What I have said is that it would be nice if they had a better program to test ALL players. It would bolster Tennis as a Sport.

That said, I try to stay away from discussing it anymore, it usually goes down a dark hole…..

Let’s all hope Rafa comes back healthy & wiser……

jamie Says:

Doping, Tennis, Nadal: A Connection?

Rafael Nadal’s prolonged absence from the tour has raised suspicions, and the ITF’s anti-doping program does little to reassure, writes Blair Henley.
By Blair Henley

Rafael Nadal at the 2008 Australian Open(October 5, 2012) — Baseball players testifying in front of Congress. Sprinters banned from Olympic competition. Accusations against cyclist after cyclist.

The recent revelations all but confirming Lance Armstrong’s doping history should have come as no surprise. Now that the sports superstar has officially stopped fighting the doping allegations and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, it may be time to start looking at athletes’ claims of innocence with a touch more cynicism.

That brings us to the case of Rafael Nadal. Rumblings within the tennis industry suggest his prolonged injury layoff may not be what it seems. Is it possible that Rafa is, in fact, serving a so-called “silent” doping ban?

We’re all familiar with the knee issues that have plagued the King of Clay throughout his career. In fact, in four of the last five years, Nadal has missed at least one tournament due to pain in that pesky left knee. We also know that the Spaniard has been dogged by doping rumors since his bulging biceps burst on the scene in 2001.

Just last year, former French Open champ Yannick Noah penned a French newspaper column alleging widespread doping among Spanish athletes. Not surprisingly, Nadal, who has also spoken out in defense of Tour de France-stripped Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, called Noah’s comments “totally stupid,” citing the comprehensive drug testing in professional tennis.

And Nadal’s right, of course (about the testing part, anyway). The International Tennis Federation (ITF), which oversees anti-doping efforts for both the WTA and the ATP tours, is intent on creating the deterrents necessary to avoid a Major League Baseball-esque public shaming.

Like all signatories under the World Anti-Doping (WADA) umbrella, the ITF testing program “operates throughout the year, both in and out of competition,” said ITF anti-doping manager Dr. Stuart Miller. Players have no advance notice before testing, and a select group known as the “international registered testing pool” must provide their whereabouts year-round. That group is comprised of, but not limited to, athletes ranked inside the top 50 and those returning from a retirement or extended absence.

World No. 4 Andy Murray has commented multiple times regarding the inconveniences of life swimming in the registered testing pool. More than once he’s been awakened by an early morning visit from ITF-contracted testers.

“When you’re going to the toilet and they’re staring at you, in your own home, it’s just quite a strange feeling,” he said.

The element of surprise is the most effective weapon the ITF has working in its favor. According to ITF website, Nadal was tested at least seven times in competition and between one and three times out of competition (ITF statistics only give testing ranges) in 2011. He would not have known the timing of the test or whether testers were collecting a blood or urine sample.

Though Miller maintains that the ITF maximizes its resources, he also admits there are limitations on the anti-doping program’s reach.

“[To] the extent that the system allows, we are definitely on the cutting edge,” he said. “If the argument is being made that we’re not collecting enough samples, well everybody would always want to collect more. There’s always going to be a financial constraint that exists, and it depends on that constraint to determine how much you can do. It would be great to test every player, every day, but that’s simply not feasible.”

So the question becomes, do those limitations open the door wide enough for a top player to slip through?

Consider the fact that Nadal made no mention of his bum knee before or after his shocking second-round loss to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon. Though the omission could have certainly been an act of sportsmanship, he has not hesitated to disclose his condition in the past. In a September interview with the Daily Mail, Nadal revealed a very different story regarding the state of his knee in London.

“My practice before Wimbledon was terrible. I played the first round with injections; otherwise it would have been impossible. That doesn’t help the knee.”

On July 4th, six days after the Wimbledon loss, Nadal’s camp announced he would be out for 15 days due to tendinitis in his left knee. The pain forced him to withdraw from the Olympics, but according to his Facebook page, Rafa was back on the court in early August. Things were looking promising for his appearance at the U.S. Open until he announced the he was suffering from Hoffa’s syndrome (an impingement of the fat pad beneath the patella).

The diagnosis changed once again in early September. Now he’s rehabbing a partial tear in his patella tendon. Despite committing to play an exhibition tournament in late December, Nadal seemingly quashed any hope of a year-end Tour Championships appearance.

“I hope you see me in Australia,” he said in his Daily Mail interview. “That is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen.”

Rafael Nadal with his coach and uncle Toni But confusion ensued once again when his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, spoke to Fox Sports.

“In 15 days, Rafa will resume training in time for him to aim to play in the Masters and the final of the Davis Cup.”

Nadal’s knee-injury timeline has been a head-scratcher if nothing else.

Is a Cover-Up Conceivable?

If a player tests positive for a banned substance (and does not qualify for a Therapeutic Use Exemption), the ITF sends the individual a letter detailing the offense, explaining where and when the sample was collected, and listing the potential consequences. At that time, the player can choose to admit the charge or contest it in front of an independent tribunal (usually chaired by a lawyer and made up of experts in medicine and/or science). If a player is then found to be at fault following tribunal hearings, a suspension would be issued based on the evidence a player provides in his or her defense. It’s also important to note that a player can be barred from play pending a decision by the tribunal. This is known as a provisional suspension.

The standard doping sanction is two years; a time period that can, and often is, adjusted on a case-by-case basis. A positive test is only made public if and when a ban is handed down. The ITF strives to reach a decision within 60 days of notifying a player of a positive test, though that time period can vary.

Peter Korda
For instance, Petr Korda famously won the Australian Open in 1998 only to test positive for nandrolone (an anabolic steroid) at Wimbledon of that year. The news was not made public until nearly six months later.

In the case of a “guilty verdict,” the charges go public whether the accused is Rafael Nadal or an unknown player ranked 500th in the world according to Miller, who has headed the ITF anti-doping arm since 2006.

“There are no circumstances at any time that any favoritism, special treatment, discretion has been exercised as far as I’m aware since I’ve been involved, though I can only speak for myself,” he said. “As evidence of that, I’ll point to [the banning of] Martina Hingis, Mariano Puerta, and Richard Gasquet, all of whom have been ranked in the top 10 in singles.”

If, however, a player is found to have no fault or negligence after a positive test, he or she is effectively exonerated. This means a player could test positive, fight the charges, and have them dropped all without the public’s knowledge. If he or she is placed on a provisional suspension during that time but is then exonerated, the break from play could be explained any way the player chooses.

American Robert Kendrick’s positive test on May 22, 2011, was not made public until two months later on July 29th when the ITF released news of his one-year suspension. ITF documents indicate he volunteered to be placed on a provisional suspension that took effect on June 17th.

If the tribunal cleared Kendrick of all charges, he would have returned to the tour with a clean slate (and no announcement made). But based on the current anti-doping rules and regulations carried out by the ITF, there is no way an actual doping ban be could be handed down and served without the public’s knowledge.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘silent ban’ as far as I’m concerned,” Miller confirmed.

So a silent ban may be an impossibility. Unannounced provisional suspensions, however, happen all the time. Though unlikely, Rafael Nadal could conceivably be serving such a suspension.

Asking Unpopular Questions

It’s understandable that Nadal fans want to take his knee issues at face value. (Especially when he says heartwarming things like: “I always want to be honest with myself and to those who have faith in me.”) But observers with knowledge of systematic doping in several other sports find it prudent to ask the difficult, and in this case unpopular, questions.

Given that WADA Code allows signatories to make their own decision on whether or not to announce positive tests when they occur, it seems the ITF could halt the rumor mill for good by agreeing to make all positive tests public whether they result in a suspension or not. Miller says they have decided against taking that route “because ‘positive tests’ are subject to an initial review which may reveal reasons why it should not be taken forward, such as the existence of a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption.”

Regardless, a look at the WADA statistics between 2007 and 2011 paints a puzzling picture. The ITF reported 53 positive tests (or Adverse Analytical Findings) but only 21 Anti-Doping Rule Violations during that time. As the anonymous writer and curator of the widely read blog Tennis Has a Steroid Problem points out, this raises a number of questions.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open“What accounts for the difference between positive tests and violations? Did players have Therapeutic Use Exemptions allowing them to use a banned substance? Did their ‘B’ Sample test negative? Did a tribunal find that the players did not commit a violation? If so, what was the reason for their finding?”

Described by Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim as “seditious,” the Steroid Problem blog receives an average of 30,000 page views per month and plays host to many tennis fans looking to discuss their own conspiracy theories with like-minded individuals. The blog’s writer, however, sticks to the facts, lobbying only for greater transparency from the ITF.

As Clean As It Seems?

A 2009 Slate story asked this question about the game of tennis: “Can any sport possibly be that clean?”

To put it simply, no one really knows. Though Miller did have this to say about the propensity for systematic doping in tennis: “In all of those sports [cycling, baseball, sprinting], you are trying to maximize some performance variable like stamina, endurance, strength, speed, or power. In tennis that is not necessarily the case…You need great technique, and you’ve got to understand tennis strategy over and above the dominant component of strength, speed, and power which those other sports have. The point being that there’s not one group of prohibited substances that alone can guarantee success in tennis.”

Underestimating the dopers, perhaps?

Miller also has an answer for those considering the effect a five hour Grand Slam final might have on a player’s body.

“Yes, you have some long tennis matches, but if you look at how long the ball is in play in a tennis match, it’s somewhere between 7 and 11 minutes per hour,” he said. “In grass court tennis, in a five hour match, the ball might be in play for 35 minutes.”

It’s a baffling philosophy to some who believe enhancing even one of the skills needed to play tennis, whether it be speed, strength, endurance, or even recovery, is enough to create a significant advantage over an opponent. In fact, respected coach and TV analyst Darren Cahill voiced his opinion earlier this year in regard to similar remarks Miller made to multiple other publications.

“I believe our testing program is a good one and tough to beat…but I don’t agree with [Miller’s] assessment,” Cahill said on Twitter.

To be fair, Miller acknowledges the possibility of doping in tennis, as evidenced by the 63 Anti-Doping Rule Violations the ITF has uncovered over the past 17 years. He just doesn’t believe current evidence supports the existence of systematic abuse.

“A philosophy that there is systematic doping would be more founded on a belief that the use of prohibited substances is necessary to reach the top,” insists Miller.

If the ITF had unlimited funds, there would undoubtedly be an increase in out of competition testing, (which in 2011 accounted for just 216 of the 2,150 total tests), as well as an increase in blood testing.

Blood specimens are currently tested for hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers and HGH, but samples of the blood variety only accounted for around six percent of the total number of tests administered in 2011 – a shortcoming currently being addressed by the ITF.

The Verdict

Given the current limitations of the ITF anti-doping program, it’s impossible to prove or disprove the existence of systematic doping in tennis. However, the circumstantial evidence reminds us to be, if not cynical, maybe a bit more skeptical.

In his autobiography, Andre Agassi admitted avoiding a doping suspension by falsely claiming the meth he ingested came from his assistant’s spiked drink.

Brisbane airport authorities caught Wayne Odesnik with medical paraphernalia and eight vials of HGH in 2010. Even after pleading guilty, the ITF deferred the second half of the American’s two-year suspension.

With examples like these, doesn’t it also seem plausible that one of the most recognized tennis players in history could avoid a suspension by claiming he was injected with HGH in his sleep by a disgruntled employee? Possible, albeit fictitious, scenarios abound.

It’s also worth considering evidence of doping outside of the sport. Are tennis players so different from the baseball players, cyclists, and sprinters that have considered performance enhancing drugs to be a calculated risk?

Then you must wonder to what lengths profiting parties will go in an attempt to cover up wrongdoing. After San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera recently tested positive for a synthetic testosterone, he allegedly enlisted help in creating a fake website that sold a fictitious product on which he planned to pin his positive test. MLB officials quickly exposed the desperate cover-up effort.

It would be nice to believe these are all isolated incidents, but with mass amounts of money at stake, the odds of that are slim.

As for Nadal, there is no solid proof he is serving a provisional suspension as he awaits news of a possible ban. As far as we know, he spends time each day rehabbing in the pool or at the gym, enjoying time with his family in his free time (at least that’s what his Facebook page would suggest). Ironically, he even filmed a Spanish anti-doping ad posted on YouTube just days ago.

It is indeed unfortunate that the current anti-doping system allows for rampant speculation regarding players’ integrity. But it’s also unfortunate that Lance Armstrong took over 500 drug tests without failing one. It’s no wonder even casual observers doubt the ITF’s ability to stay ahead of the doping technology being used throughout the sports world.

As thrilling as it is to watch the seemingly inhuman athleticism of so many in pro tennis, it’s naïve not to ask questions of an extended absence from the tour in a world where performance enhancing drugs and blood doping run rampant. With wisps of smoke in the air, perhaps there is more fire than some would like to admit.

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