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  • Nadal bidding for third Indian Wells championship

    3/9/11 9:49 PM | Kelli DeMario
    Nadal bidding for third Indian Wells championship World No. 1 Rafael Nadal makes his return to action at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells, set to headline a talent-flush field of 96 players. The Mallorcan won the title in 2007 and 2009.

    Rafael Nadal heads into the 2011 BNP Paribas Open on a high note, after helping home country Spain to a 4-1 victory over Belgium in Davis Cup. The 24-year-old won both singles rubbers during the tie, having downed both Ruben Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus in straight sets.

    Nadal has compiled a 9-2 season record, by virtue of a semifinal appearance in Doha a quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open. The World No. 1 looks to be healthy heading into Indian Wells, where he reached the final four in 2010 (lost to Ljubicic). He is twice a champion at the event, with title-winning runs put together in 2007 (def. Djokovic) and 2009 (def. Murray).

    The World No. 1 has been placed in a competitive quarter of the draw that includes (6) David Ferrer, (11) Nicolas Almagro, (15) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (19) Marcos Baghdatis (23) Albert Montanes, (27) Juan Monaco amd (28) Gilles Simon. Additional combatants in Nadal’s section are: Kevin Anderson, Marcel Granollers, Denis Istomin, Ivo Karlovic, Xavier Malisse and Adrian Mannarino.

    After an first-round bye, the nine-time Grand Slam champion is slated to open his bid against either compatriot Pere Riba or a qualifier. Passage through the early rounds will set a possible round of 16 meeting with Monaco and a likely quarterfinal clash with Ferrer, who defeated his countryman at the Australian Open.

    Nadal is located in the same half as both reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who commences the tournament unbeaten in 2011, and 2010 Indian Wells runner-up Andy Roddick.

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Comments

---Nadal is located in the same half as both reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, ...and...Andy Roddick---

No!

Augustina08 , 3/9/11 10:08 PM


Woah, what a bad mistake! Nole is in Fed's half of the draw. Pls check the facts first before writing the article. Rafa will meet Sod in the semi if everything goes according to seeding.

luckystar , 3/10/11 5:02 AM


It makes you wonder if these blogs are written before the draw is published, however, whoever is in Rafa's draw..............

Vaaaaaammmmmmmmmoooooooossssssss!

nadline , 3/10/11 8:26 AM


Yeah, not Kelly's greatest blog :)
Fed is also meeting Raonic, isn't him? This'll be interesting :)

Shireling , 3/10/11 4:29 PM


It will be good to see how Rafa performs, although I can't see him winning the tournament, probably will reach the semis.

As is the norm, I think we'll start to see him hit top form when the clay season starts. Barring any injury I fully expect him to defend most if not all of his points from last year on the clay. Is it true that he plans to play Barcelona as well as the three Masters this time round?

lebsta2 , 3/11/11 12:33 AM


@lebsta2, 3/11/11 12:33 AM
---Is it true that he plans to play Barcelona as well as the three Masters this time round?---

Yes, it is. Rafa's 2011 calendar is available on his homepage:

http://www.rafaelnadal.com/calendar/

Augustina08 , 3/11/11 1:55 AM


Either Rafa is crazy (which cannot be ruled out considering how he played through his fever and weakness and eventually ended up with a muscle tear) or he is confident about his fitness and stamina.

holdserve , 3/11/11 5:33 AM


he will pull out of Barca when the time comes

RickyDimon , 3/11/11 6:29 AM


holdserve....i think he is CRAZY....anyone remotely sane would plan his year around important tournaments....i.e SLAMS.....and seriously its those BIG 4 that truely matter to him at this stage of his career......i just hope he stays healthy....atleast for the slams!

vrael , 3/11/11 7:05 AM


Ricky,

Then why even have it on his schedule at all? I have to believe that he is at least seriously considering playing this home tournament.

Nativenewyorker , 3/11/11 7:15 AM


Yeah, I do have to question the logic behing playing Barcelona. The differences in amending the schedule were there for all too see when comparing 2009 to 2010.

I can understand that he wants to return to the tournament he misse last year, but it's not like he needs the points. Infact I thought he would play Barca and miss one of the Masters - especially when - correct me if I'm wrong - two of the events are back to back this year? Looks like Madrid & Rome (thanks Augustina08 for calendar)

It would make more sense to do that - points lost would then equate to only 750 - on the basis he wins Barca. He then would have a 1000 pts to gain the following year.

I just hope for his sake his staff have the same sensibilities as last year regarding his schedule particularly down to the fact he's just recovered from injury and to consider the massive amount of points he's got to defend for most of this year.

lebsta2 , 3/11/11 7:20 AM


Either Rafa is crazy (which cannot be ruled out considering how he played through his fever and weakness and eventually ended up with a muscle tear) or he is confident about his fitness and stamina.
______________

Good post. The answer might be somewhere in the middle. Based on past history, it seems that the only time Nadal misses a tournament is when he's actually injured for ex in Rotterdam '10 /' 11 or Barcelona '10 when he got his knee treatment. Nadal won't skip clay tournaments because they are as good as free pts for him. Which makes sense, and obviously why add Barca to the calender and assert categorically that he will play unless that is precisely his intention?

As always, Nadal's challenge will be to peak at the slams, which looks difficult given his increasingly crowded calender. The thing with Nadal is that with his physical style and intensity, he needs an extended offseason plus a reasonable gap between slams. He cannot come back to the court 5 days after winning a hardcourt slam. We saw what happened in AO when Nadal restricted his off-season and played numerous exhos and other mickey mouse tournaments early this year. It cost him the slam in Oz. Again for the past 2 years, many of Nadal's exits at the slam level have as much do with injuries as his opponents.

Furthermore Nadal's still playing matches like the Davis cup DEAD singles rubber - which is unheard off for a top player. And therein lies the problem. Nadal's success is built on a foundation of qualities that also occasionally prove to be his achilles heel also. Movement, work-ethic, physicality, attrition, excessive match-play..etc Of course, without these he wouldn't be the success he is today. But it goes both ways, as we've seen.

So I guess, there is no use worrying about Nadal's scheduling and his work ethic. He will continue to push himself and will get success as s result. But at the same time, one has to accept that his game, his physicality and intensity are punishing on his body.

AO 2011 wasn't the first time Nadal has had a disappointing Grand slam loss because of injury related issues, and unfortunately, it definitely won't be the last...

imjimmy , 3/11/11 9:03 AM


I'm pretty sure Rafa will play Bacca. He accumulates a lot of points in the clay season which sets him up for the rest of the year and makes up for not doing so well in the autumn. Rafa was at the launch of the Bacca Open, and made a commitment to play, and tickets went on sale with his name on the flyer, so I don't see how he can pull out except for legimitate reasons.

So much pressure is put on him to play his home tournament that he can't keep saying No.

Here is a report of the launch of the tournament:

The edition number 59 of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, traditionally known as the Conde de Godo, showed up this morning in the city of Barcelona, with the notable presence of Rafael Nadal. The player spent Tuesday night traveling from Abu Dhabi, where he went to receive the Laureus award for best athlete of 2010.

Early in the morning, before exposure to the media spotlight, Nadal CIMA himself at the clinic and underwent several examinations by your doctor, Angel Ruiz Cotorro, who confirmed "that this week I can go back training in Manacor. I have and desire to return to compete, "he says. The return of the Spaniard will be 4 to 6 March in the first round World Group Davis Cup.

The Godo, 2011 presented a poster with four top ten. Besides Nadal will also be in contention Robin Soderling (4) David Ferrer (6) and Tomas Berdych (7). Most members of the 'Navy', including Tommy Robredo, new champion last week in Santiago de Chile, are also appointed to the classic clay, to be held in the facilities of the RCT Barcelona from 18 to 24 April, coinciding with Easter and the final of the Copa del Rey soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Albert Costa, director of the Open 500, stressed the commitment of the players with a historic event, "Soderling, for example, was not in Monte Carlo last year, and then came here and made final." February 28 is put on sale tickets to see the best players on earth. The champion will carry a purse of 290,000 euros.

___________________________

I think it will be a mistake to just concentrate on GS and Masters, also he's got to play some 250 and 500 events, so why not play the ones you are most likely to win.

nadline , 3/11/11 9:33 AM


This year MC and Barcelona are back to back and there's a one week break before the Madrid/Rome back to back, it's something like 2005/2006, except that back then the masters finals were best of five sets matches instead of best of three. That's why after that 2006 Rome five sets final, both Fed and Rafa missed the Hamburg masters which started the next day. In 2007, the masters finals became best of three sets and Rafa won MC, Barcelona back to back and won Rome and lost in the final to Fed at Hamburg the next week.

This is not the first time they have back to back clay masters events. I believe Rafa and his team know what to do by now, he's not going to play three weeks in a row like he did in 2009, from MC to Barcelona to Rome, with bad knees too. I believe Rafa shouldn't have any problems at MC and Barcelona. The problem may be at either Madrid or Rome, but I think he'll win at least one and reach the final in the other, like in 2007.

I believe Rafa's illness at the beginning of the year had contributed to his thigh injury at AO. It was not the same injury of that AO 2010, at least not s major issue. He was playing well at the Abu Dhabi exho, especially in the final against Fed. After his knee treatment, his knees seem to be fine and I don't foresee much injury for him from now onwards. Look, he wasn't injured at RG, Wimbledon and NY last year, there's no reason why he would be this year, as long as he gets himself well prepared for each tournament and takes good care of his health too!

luckystar , 3/11/11 9:34 AM


imjimmy, Rafa said that apart form not disappointing the fans, he also played the dead rubber in Charleroi in order to get his rythm back after the long break. You might say he is between a rock and a hard place because he says he needs matches to get his rythm going, which makes him play his best tennis, yet by playing too much he is likely to get injured, but I think the knee problem is under control, and sometimes, you just can't avoid injury in sport or illness like when he caught the flu.

Hopefully, he'll be free of injury for a long time to come. Think of Nalbandian who has been in and out of hospital in the past couple of years with one thing and another not related to over-playing.

nadline , 3/11/11 9:42 AM


@imjimmy, 3/11/11 9:03 AM
---We saw what happened in AO when Nadal restricted his off-season and played numerous exhos and other mickey mouse tournaments early this year. It cost him the slam in Oz.---

Rafa caught a cold while playing "water tennis" in Doha. (I has said it himself). We saw the result of THAT at the AO.
Before the AO, he played in Abu Dhabi on January 1st and later in Doha. I wouldn't say that it is a 'numerous' amount.

--- Nadal's still playing matches like the Davis cup DEAD singles rubber - which is unheard off for a top player---
Even a top player needs match practice after returning from an injury and before a big tournament.

Augustina08 , 3/11/11 10:34 AM


@lebsta2, 3/11/11 7:20 AM
---I do have to question the logic behing playing Barcelona. The differences in amending the schedule were there for all too see when comparing 2009 to 2010---

The Barcelona tournament is Rafa's home event and he wants to play there.
The Masters are mandatory tournaments, except that in Monte Carlo, he can't skip them without a medical reason.
The 2011 ATP schedule differs from that of 2010. Last year, the tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome were back to back. He withdrew from the Barcelona tournament, citing need to rest his body. During the Barcelona tournament week, he not only rested, he had his first PRP treatment (for his left knee). Only 'amending' the schedule by removing the Barcelona tournament, wouldn't have healed his knees.

Augustina08 , 3/11/11 11:01 AM


Rafa played that dead rubber because he needed match play. Some seem to feel that Rafa is killing himself, when the truth is that he hasn't played much at all so far this year. He was always going to take time off after AO, skipping Rotterdam which was on my wish list. Because of the injury Rafa couldn't practice for a while when he was getting rest and treatment. Now he needs match play. It is the great conundrum of Rafa's career - he needs to rest more because of his knees, yet he is a rhythm and confidence player who gets better the more he plays.

I think Rafa and his team are doing their best to deal with this situation. He may make decisions with his schedule that will puzzle or upset us or ones with which we disagree. The example that comes to mind is Rafa's decision to play in Bangkok last year. His reason was because he always promised to play, but couldn't do it because of injury. He wanted to fulfill his commitment to the fans there. Then he played Japan and Shanghai. It was clear that he was not ready to come back after his great victory at the USO. So we may quibble with some of his decisons, but he has also tried to build in rest periods when he can.

It's true that he couldn't play at Barca last year because of the first knee treatment. It worked out well with one week of play and one week off up until RG. It seems that the knees are good now, so that's one less problem for Rafa to worry about. I think this home tournament means a great deal to him. I am sure that if he feels tired or it may be a problem for his body, then he will pull out if he must.

Right now he is coming into IW without much match play. He had the two matches in DC and that little one set exho with Fed. So he's hardly tired or exhausted! With one or two easy early matches he will have the chance to play himself into form.

I believe that Rafa is serious about taking care of his body. Getting a viral infection or the flu was not his fault. It can happen to anybody. That's what cost him the AO.

Nativenewyorker , 3/11/11 9:12 PM


Augusta08

You must agree though that adding Barcelona certainly wont help his cause. He will surely play his way into enough form with winning (or probably winning ) all the clay Masters

lebsta2 , 3/11/11 9:54 PM


@lebsta2, 3/11/11 9:54 PM
I repeat that he WANTS to play in Barcelona because it is his HOME tournament.

Augustina08 , 3/12/11 12:11 AM


Rafa has to take care of several commitments like commitment to his fans, commitment to his sponsors, commitment to his family etc and not just commitment to winning slams. He is no doubt trying to find the best way of taking care of all his commitments. So, let us just trust he takes the best decision.
The only thing which makes me uneasy is what he did in Jan. But as catching the virus was not in his plans and he desperately wanted the Rafa slam, he probably had to choose between taking a rest and thereby for certain jeopardizing his chances of winning the slam or continuing to play and getting the match practice he needed to have a shot at the slam. He obviously hoped that the effect of the virus would be shortlived but it wasn't and so, he wasn't fully fit when he met Ferrer.

holdserve , 3/12/11 4:41 AM


holdserve,,

I think your comments make a lot of sense. Rafa is trying to juggle all of these obligations and he is incredibly popular, so it's not an easy task.

He did build in some time off after the AO by skipping Rotterdam and Dubai. I hoped that he would take Rotterdam off his schedule because it is simply too close to the AO. That was one wish I had. Not playing in Dubai is just a bonus. Even if he had not been injured, he was going to take this time off. The injury just meant that he wouldn't have as much practice time as he would normally have had. He had to stop playing for a week or two while he received treatment and rested his leg.

I only saw highlights of the DC matches because of the time difference. From what I saw Rafa looked to be in good shape. I realize that he wasn't facing the stiffest competition, but I was more interested in just seeing how his game looked. That big serve seemed to be working and it was so good to see him healthy and not sweating buckets!

If he can get through one or two relatively easy matches at IW, then that should help him work off any rust that may still be there.

Nativenewyorker , 3/12/11 7:02 AM



Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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