"Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes. Let’s go day-by-day. After missing the Olympics and after missing the US Open I don’t want to make goals to play a tournament. I want to go day-by-day in the gym and in the swimming pool ... to continue with my recovery. I’m trying not to think that far and take it day-by-day ... after not going to the Olympics and after not going to the US Open that was two important goals for me ...I wish today the situation was different, but I’m going to go day-by-day ..."Rafa is due to play in an exhibition in Madison Square Gardens in March next year, and to promote his participation in the event, Rafa made a media conference call from Mallorca. The conference call has been transcribed by Tennis Panaroma News, and you can find the link to the full content here.
I have to say that I have found this transcript the most encouraging thing in weeks. Not because we have anything more definitive on his recovery than we've ever had before, but it's great to hear from the horse's mouth - ie. RAFA - just exactly how he is feeling, and that he can report that things feel different with his knee and he can sense the improvement. And rather than what "Loose Lips" Toni does which is to put specific timeframes on when Rafa will be back on the practice court, Rafa's own view is that he's going to keep working hard, do what he has to do day-by-day, and just work to coming back to practice "for not very long periods of time". By that I take it that even when he's back practising, it will only be at a reduced pace, and he's sounding so very sensible to me. And he's right to say that a return to competitive tennis once he's back to practice "... could take 3 weeks, it could take one month and a half, I don’t know." No, he doesn't know. I think, however, there is one thing that he does know ... and that is that doesn't want any return back to playing until his knee is completely without pain.
Poor Rafa ... I tell you it breaks my heart to think how injections and adreniline have had to see him through matches. How on earth must he have felt to know that he couldn't complete the French Open final on that Sunday and that he'd somehow have to steel himself to return again the next day to do it? No Rafa, we don't want you back until you can play completely without pain either.
And my ranting hobby horse of the hardcourts also got a mention. ;) And it's as I expect. Rafa won't flount the ATP rules and make up his own schedule and drop hardcourt events because pounding upon them affects him ...
"My feeling is that the hard court is probably the most ... frustrating to play for my knee and for my ankles. Today the hard court is probably one of the most important surfaces on the tennis tour. I really do not have too many chances to change my schedule. If I want to keep having chances to be in the top position in the rankings I really have to follow the ATP Tour schedule. I can make a few adjustments, but not much ..."
He doesn't have an opportunity to change his schedule because of the mandatory ATP rules, and equally, if he doesn't want to be zero pointed and have his ranking impacted, then it's as he says ... he has to follow the ATP Tour schedule. Are you listening keyboard jockeys and nay-sayers? He HAS to follow the ATP Tour Schedule. As much as I would like him to, he cannot be the only player to put himself above the requirements that all other players adhere to. He would be hung out to dry if he did … there would be even more column inches and creaking of forum pages should that be the case.
So what that means for Rafa is 2 hardcourt Slams, the WTF on hardcourt, 5 of the 6 hardcourt Masters (as he now qualifies to be able to drop one), and at least one of the 500 series on hardcourts. If he drops Monte Carlo or Barcelona – both of which count towards his mandatory 500 series events - it may free up more time for him in the busy Spring season to rest … but where would he make up his 500 series requirements? It would be on hardcourts, wouldn’t it? Or in South America, but then that would be adding more matches to his schedule in a time where he has purposely planned to have off in recent times, and prior to the US hardcourts … so how sensible in actual terms is that? No wonder Rafa says he can only make “small adjustments” … I’m finding it almost impossible to determine where on earth they might be.
You heard all this from me earlier in the week, so I'll shut up. Tennis has evolved into what it has due to the influx of hardcourts which are cheaper to maintain than the natural surfaces, changes to equipment, speed of courts and a whole host of other reasons that the nay-sayers can actually teach me. I feel a bit of resignation in Rafa's responses regarding scheduling and surface, however ... let's end on a positive note.
Rafa sounds keen to want to return to compete at the highest level, regardless of what surface it's on ... and that's a good thing.
Keep going with your re-hab Rafa ... we all understand it's day-by-day. VAMOS!!!