On Nadal pulling out of the 2013 Australian Open:
Amy: I’m not sure what to make of it. At this point we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when Nadal gets back on-court. But it’s safe to say that the longer he’s out, the tougher it’s going to be for him to get back to his peak form in time for Roland Garros. Missing two consecutive majors isn’t a good sign.
Juan José: Following this issue has been absolutely fascinating, and ultimately sad, since Nadal will be absent from yet another Slam. The good thing is that the New York Times via Christopher Clarey, has taken the time to report on this story and contact the right sources. In short, I think this is some bad luck mixed in with even worse timing. Nadal’s training got completely disrupted by the virus, and he surely remembers what happened in 2011, when he got sick in Doha, played through it, had to then take time off from training to recover, and subsequently got injured at the AO. There is no need to repeat that sequence again.
The bad timing part is that there are only two weeks left before the AO starts. If Nadal is still recovering from the flu, he can’t play next week, and then he’d have to play three straight weeks, which seems silly after being out over six months.
Now, about the knee: it is indeed true that while the knee seems to be fine, no one really knows how it will respond during competition. That was the whole point of playing Abu Dhabi, where Nadal had a maximum of two matches to test out his problematic joint. I’m sure he would’ve pulled out of the Australian Open if the knee didn’t respond well during this exhibition.
I’m still an optimist about Nadal – from what I’ve read, they’ve left no stone unturned, and this much precaution has lead to a better plan for him: come back on clay in smaller events, then the two big Masters 1000s, and finally, his core season on the soft surfaces. It’s just unfortunate that we won’t see him in Melbourne.
Lindsay: I really don’t know what to make of Rafa right now. I will say right off the bat that I am very sad that he won’t be playing the Australian Open — the sport is just not the same without him. However, I am also starting to feel skeptical about the whole situation and what this means for the future of Nadal. I never feel comfortable trusting his team when it comes to his health and injuries, since there is often conflicting information coming out of his camp. Is his knee anywhere close to being healed? Will it ever be? And what is this mysterious illness that has in theory destroyed the comeback? I have so many questions and there seem to be few answers. But I’m glad he’s not being hasty with the comeback, and I hope he’ll be back competing soon. He is missed, and this is starting to get very worrisome.
On Del Potro pulling out of Davis Cup for all of 2013:
Amy: I think it’s a smart move by Del Potro. If he wants to rise in the rankings and win more Slams, he needs to prioritize his health. For someone as injury-prone as he is, that’s a necessity. Del Potro has won an Olympic bronze medal for his country, and has played numerous Davis Cup ties over the years. Maybe it’s time to try something different, especially now that he’s capable of beating the top guys again.
Also, Del Potro is only 24 years old. He has plenty of time to get back to playing Davis Cup if he wants to. Perhaps he will wait it out until the Argentinian Davis Cup team replaces Martin Jaite, since those two have such a poor relationship.
Juan José: This is just a very big mess, and this latest announcement by Del Potro is merely the most recent episode of a drama that started years ago. From what I understand from following this story in the Argie press, Martín Jaite – the Argie Davis Cup captain – was seeking a firm commitment from Del Po for the 2013 first round. Del Potro was not quick to make one, and his camp says that they were waiting for some medical tests, and that there was no rush to talk about the first round yet, since it’s not happening for over five weeks. Jaite then decided to make the choice for Del Potro, and left him out of the team for the first tie. Del Potro, as if this was a game of poker, raised Jaite and pulled out of Davis Cup for the whole year. There is so much resentment between the sides that I think it’s turned into a never-ending “he said, she said” situation. But, since Del Potro has no PR person or strategy, he will get dragged through the mud over this in Argentina.
What I don’t buy at all is that this is some sort of career move by Del Potro. His coach was on record saying that Del Potro loves playing Davis Cup just days ago and that he didn’t understand Jaite’s decision to drop him from the Germany tie. The fact of the matter is, the relationship between Del Potro and Jaite (or between the Del Potro camp and the Argie Tennis Federation) has deteriorated beyond repair, and it’s clear to me after this recent announcement that unless the Argentinean Tennis Federation gets rid of Jaite, Del Potro will stay away from Davis Cup.
The big loser here is Argentinian tennis, as always. These squabbles over Davis Cup are decades old. They’ve never had a galvanizing force, under whom everybody else forgets about their egos and becomes an actual team. There are always factions between the players, the coaches and the federation, and it seems an impossibility for them to get it together and make the most out of the talent they’ve been given. Everybody involved shares the blame.
Lindsay: I also don’t really know what to make of this. I’m a huge fan of Davis Cup, and have long hoped that the Argies would lift the trophy. I also wish that more players would devote themselves to the competition so that it could be an even bigger deal. Nalbandian isn’t going to be around much longer, and it seems that this decision by Delpo means that he most likely officially will retire without the trophy he coveted the most.
Personally, I’d like to see Delpo take out some of the 250s and 500s before he takes out Davis Cup, but I also realize I’m biased as a Davis Cup fan. He is so fragile and injury prone that he had to cut back on something, and I hope this does make him more of a contender in the big events. Especially since Rafa is questionable, there’s a big hole that needs to be filled, and I hope that Delpo steps into it — or at least accidentally tumbles.