Rafael Nadal Explains Why He Plays Doubles
by Tom Gainey | August 9th, 2013, 10:24 am

Some fans questioned Rafael Nadal’s decision for playing doubles this week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Nadal’s been long-plagued by knee issues throughout his career and hardcourts seem to only make it worse.

Yesterday, after a tough win over Jerzy Janowicz Nadal withdrew from the doubles competition (with Pablo Andujar) to rest his body and knees. But why did he even sign up to play in the first place? Nadal admits, it was just for practice.

“I have to be honest, I play for practice,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I normally don’t play doubles in a Masters 1000. Indian Wells and Miami are easier because there is lot of days off between matches. But these kind of tournaments you play every day.

“But seven weeks without playing a tennis tournament, as I said before, one match of doubles before the first singles can help me little bit. So that’s the reason I was playing doubles.

“At the end I take it like a practice, but is a little bit more than a practice. At the end you are in a position that you are competing. You start to feel little more the pressure, the tension that you are playing a tennis match. That helps little bit.

“And, seriously, I enjoy a lot playing doubles. If it’s not because my physical, I’m not allowed to play as much as I would like. I want to play more doubles because is a good way to practice things that can improve your tennis in general. You can find things in doubles that you can adjust then on the singles that can help you to be better player.”

Rafa has had some decent success in doubles. He’s won eight titles in 12 finals with two victories at Indian Wells and another at Monte Carlo. He also has 102 career wins, a rarity for someone with over 600 singles match victories.

Nadal will play later today in the singles quarterfinals against Marinko Matosevic. He hasn’t lost on hardcourts this season.

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21 Comments for Rafael Nadal Explains Why He Plays Doubles

metan Says:

Wise decision Rafa.

RZ Says:

Wise decision to pull out, and I get his reasoning for playing dubs for the extra practice. But if he (and I’m not just talking about Rafa here but all top singles players who occasionally dabble in doubles play) wasn’t committed to playing doubles all the way through the tournament, then I wish he’d not have entered so that a lower-ranked player who really needs the money and doubles points would have been able to play the tournament.

metan Says:

I hope Rafa and his partner has made an agreement about prize money plus points behind the door before they signed up if his purpose just for practising.

Ben Pronin Says:

How is this not hurting the integrity of the sport? How is this any better than tanking? Or playing a small event and saying you’re just using it to test things out?

Basically, because Nadal is a top player, he can enter and pull out of doubles tournaments as he pleases. This hurts his partner, this hurts two other guys who could’ve played in their spot instead and actually tried to win the tournament, and this just makes doubles seem like the unwanted cousin of singles that much more. This is a complete insult to the sport no matter how much Nadal enjoys playing doubles. A tournament is a tournament and you should be in it to win it or not in it at all. He should be fined for this admission.

metan Says:

Is there any rule for that??

Giles Says:

“He should be fined for his admission”. Why leave it at that? How about imprisoning him

nadalista Says:

How does Rafa’s “infraction” compare to Raonic’s in your opinion @Ben Pronin?

Anna Says:

All of the top players play doubles after a long lay off (most often Rogers Cup)for the same reason, to hone their skills. How many top ten singles players in the draw are still playing doubles? Nadal plays IW and Miami to win when he plays doubles, which is apparent in the wins he’s posted over the years. Otherwise the schedule doesn’t allow it. So for Rafa, his doubles schedule runs IW, Miami (sometimes) and most often Canada. I doubt there is any considerable damage done to the doubles players by Rafa taking part in 3 tournaments and I’m sure both partners are aware of each others intentions before they even sign up.

I guess your one of those guys who thinks singles players shouldn’t play doubles. I understand your thinking, but when one of the stars of tennis is playing doubles your ticket sales will increase exponentially. You couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a seat at one of Rafa’s doubles matches at IW. It’s insane.

Ben Pronin Says:

Nadalista, one hurts the integrity of the sport, the other hurts only his own integrity. How do you think they compare?

Metan, there’s a rule for tanking, better known as “not giving your best effort”. I’m not sure about pulling out of tournaments you were only using for practice. It’s also hard to argue with Nadal’s reasons for pulling out, he’s got his knee issues and whatnot. But what if the Bryan brothers decided to enter singles and pull out after a few rounds because they were only using it for practice for doubles?

This is similar to when Murray lost to Tipsarevic in Dubai a few years ago and said he didn’t care because he was using the event to experiment with his game. Naturally the tournament director was pissed. Here at least Nadal is still in the event but it’s not fair to a significant amount of other people. 1) Obviously even in doubles Nadal is a huge draw. Now you have a vacant slot. 2) If Nadal wants to practice, then he should practice. The guy makes millions from his singles results as well as his endorsement deals. I’m sure the 2 guys that would’ve been in the draw instead are not making anywhere close to the money he is. He’s basically getting a bonus for practice and depriving someone who needs it a lot more. 3) It’s no secret that Nadal plays doubles for practice. I’m not saying “oh my God this is horrible,” I just don’t understand why he’d ever admit it. It doesn’t justify his playing, it makes him sound that much more selfish. I think he should get fined for making this admission and in the future tournaments should think twice before letting him in the draw.

Ben Pronin Says:

Anna, Rafa isn’t taking part in 3 rinky dink tournaments, they’re Masters events. I’m sure there are doubles specialists (or even guys who, if they played, would stick it out completely) who would benefit financialy from being in the draw.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with him playing doubles. There isn’t. But there is a problem with him saying he’s only playing for practice. And I fully agree that Nadal is a huge sell. But it’s not always about money. This still hurts the integrity of the sport.

nadalista Says:

@Ben Pronin, you make some sound arguments re Rafa’s reasons for playing doubles, especially the one about taking the place of other potential doubles players in the draw. But, Rafa is not making a secret of it, his reasons for being in the doubles draw I mean. Don’t you think the tournament directors are aware? Which would water down the argument to “fine” Rafa, no?

I think Raonic made a mistake, he will learn, painfully. Rafa? I don’t see the big deal, tbh. If he is getting favourable treatment because he is a big star, he’s earned it……

And about the Bryans entering the singles draw for practice, why not? If they can cut it as singles players, why not?

RZ Says:

Here’s an interview with Colin Fleming on the economics of tennis, which explains how expensive a sport it is and how many players are in debt.

Part 1: http://www.thetennisspace.com/colin-fleming-the-economics-of-playing-tennis/

Part 2: http://www.thetennisspace.com/part-two-of-colin-flemings-tennis-economics/

Giles Says:

Rafa fans.
Lucky Lima, enjoy Rafa!

Lou_tennisfan Says:

Good for Rafa. It is so nice for tennis that he is back and espeially the fact that his knees are fine.

Rafael Nadal Superstitions and Knee Issues – Hoax or Fact? http://tinyurl.com/n8joukc

Anna Says:

Ben – Only one of those three tournaments is he playing like most other top players, to get some time on court after a long layoff. IW and Miami he plays to win. As far as I know there’s no one keeping any of the doubles specialists out of singles if they can qualify. If you fine Rafa you’ll have to fine some of the other top ten players who played as well. Novak, Murray, Ferrer,who else?

Humble Rafa Says:

I also don’t blame my partner after I lose a double match.

metan Says:

There’s no rules about withdraw from a match or enter signed up just for practising. So it is not right to say to fined a player since a player doesn’t break any rules although it’s hurt the integrity of tennis.

Imo, I appreciate Rafa’s honesty. If he losea single match, I am sure he’ll continue double, ie Andy Murray.

Sometimes honesty is hurt but it’s better than lies.

I knew many playera have been fined because of tanking.

Giles Says:

It turns out that it was not Rafa but Andujar who had to withdraw from the doubles match because of a hip injury!!

Nadalista Says:

Thanks for the information @Giles. Phew, thank goodness Rafa escapes a “fine” then…….

James Says:

^^ typical, eh?;)

WTF Says:

Ben Pronin Says:

“Metan, there’s a rule for tanking, better known as “not giving your best effort”. I’m not sure about pulling out of tournaments you were only using for practice. It’s also hard to argue with Nadal’s reasons for pulling out, he’s got his knee issues and whatnot. But what if the Bryan brothers decided to enter singles and pull out after a few rounds because they were only using it for practice for doubles?”

Ben, it’s not like Rafa tells the tournament director, I want to play Doubles. Pip some duo off so I can have a spot. He has to qualify for it either based on doubles ranking (not singles!) or entering quallies. If he’s in the draw, he has every right to be there. The lower ranked team didn’t make it either because they lost in quallies or weren’t high enough ranked.

The same is true of your Bryans example. If the Bryans decided they wanted to play singles to practice for doubles, they can do that… if they can qualify. If their ranking is high enough for direct entry, or they make it through the qualifying draws, then they have more right to be there than someone who didn’t qualify.

It’s not easy to qualify however, and last I checked the Bryans’ singles rankings are not very high. Which means they’d have to enter qualifying draw and beat other players trying to qualify.

You make it sound like all you have to do to get in is ask for a place in the draw and it’s given to you just because you’re a star name.

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