Rafa appears in l’Equipe today as he's given them an exclusive interview. Here’s a little taster …
The full article is not up on any website (and it may not be), so I’m not privy to any translation, however, @bluemathilde has done some sterling work over on Twitter, and has translated most of Rafa’s comments. You can read her tweets on her Twitter page, but for ease, I’ve also brought them over here.
Rafa gave the interview a few days ago in Madrid, and a lead-in is actually with regard to his contract with PokerStars. Inevitably he is asked about his injury progress and comeback, and the general message is that he swims almost 1 kilometer a day, but he isn’t practising any tennis yet. Equally, he still doesn't know when he'll be back.
About poker, Rafa says he likes it because you have to stay focussed, have a strategy, and you can have an influence on other players. He says he’s an aggressive player. He has a private Spanish coach, but he only actually plays with friends :)
Anyway, enough of that, this is what we want to read, so here are the soundbites to Rafa’s interview …
"I want to come back when I'll be completely healthy, it's clear for me. I don't want to play anymore with doubts on my physical condition.”
"Pain due to Hoffa’s syndrome started in Indian Wells, forced me to withdraw for the semi in Miami.”
“It was less painful on clay because of the surface. But from the semis in Roland Garros, my knee was very painful."
“I had to play the 2 last matches with drugs and injections. But I've never played as good on clay.”
“It was not a mistake to play in Halle, but maybe a mistake to try to play Wimbledon. My practicing sessions were awful.”
“I know that multiple injections in my knee are not good for my health, but it's tough not to try anything to play a GS.”
“I seem to be very calm with my health issues, but you have to know that I had tough moments. Not being able to carry my country’s flag in the Olympic Games was one of them. It made me sad for 2 weeks. Missing a GS is tough, but less because it's not only every 4 years.”
“My wish is to play in Rio, but it's in 4 years ...”
"I was taught to resist, to play with pain. Everybody is different, but any high level athlete has to play with pain."
In 2010 & 2011, I didn't play often with pain. After RG, it was even not a question to bear the pain, I was wondering on every shot if my knee will resist. I couldn't go on like that."
"Tennis is first of all technical, then physical, and mental when you play to the limits."
"People have been telling me for years to change my game. I run less, I don't run more than Federer or Djokovic when I face them. My game is my game, I try shorter points, but I won't change my style. I'll never "serve-volley", useless to wait for that, guys :) "
"I didn't have the same physical level in 2009 than in 2005. If you don't work on new shots, you lose. I've been at the top for 8 years."
"Before my injury, I was No 1 on the Race, I was strong. Why couldn't I come back as strong as before ? I'm not afraid of my body."
"I want to start the next season in perfect conditions : Doha, and then Australian Open."
"I can't decide to play less on hard courts, because there are 2 GS on hard courts. I'll try to play more on clay, but I even don't think that I have many options to do that. You know my opinion on hard courts. "
"Football, basketball are not played on hard courts. Business won’t. It's cheaper to build a hard court, than a good clay one."
"My ranking has lowered, but I'm not worried about it. I still love tennis with the same intensity, the same passion."
"Tennis is not business for me. The priority is the court, the game. Until RG, it was one of my best seasons, I loved how I played. I was feeling good, I thought that I could win any tournament.”
“The team was strong vs USA, I don't know if I'll be ready to compete for the final. I don't look further than tomorrow."
"The captain makes the decision, it's the team above all. I'm not sure I’m the best player for the final in 2 months."
"I'm very happy for Andy and not surprised at all. I know for many years that something great would happen to him. Good for UK too."
"I'm very ok on the new "no let rule". But every country has to apply the sane tension to all the nets."
"Ah ah. I was not aware of the new time violation rules, they didn't call me. Maybe they don't wish to (laughing)."
In summary, Mathilde writes that the journalist said that he interviewed a calm, smiley and motivated Rafa, but at no time did he mention that he could be back on court this year. The conclusion is : he doesn't know when he'll be back, but when he is ... he'll be back as strong as before.
Since the DC rumours were gathering so much pace since the weekend, I’m glad we’ve had the affirmation from this interview. I really don’t know how many times Rafa has to say it … he doesn’t know when he’ll be back and he only will be when he’s good and ready. Please, let’s leave it at that.
Many, many thanks to Mathilde for the hard work in translating this and putting it out for all to read on Twitter … Great job!