• Uncle Toni proven wrong as Nadal fights through fever

    5/13/11 4:20 PM | Johan Lindahl
    Uncle Toni proven wrong as Nadal fights through fever Rafael Nadal's concerned uncle and longtime coach may have been proved wrong as his nephew shows the strength of a raging Spanish bull as he overcomes illness to maintain his progress at the Rome Masters.

    World No. 1 Nadal, who himself debated not taking to the court for his third-round match with Feliciano Lopez due to a high fever, won that contest and kept up the good work by going through his quarter-final over Marin Cilic in straight sets.

    But Toni, who has coached Rafael since childhood was not so sure it was the right move to compete while not at 100 percent. "I didn’t want him to play," he told France's l'Equipe.

    "I told him that he had to remember what happened in Doha at the beginning of the year (another bout of a fever he is currently suffering with). He played his semi-final against Nikolay Davydenko with a fever, he lost it easily and ended up getting injured at the Australian Open.

    "If you push a fragile body, the risk of breaking it is greater. And since Roland Garros is so close...”

    Nadal has gone almost nonstop as he moves towards the highlight of his another season on clay with the Grand Slam starting in just over a week. He owns repeat 2011 titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona but lost the final at home in Madrid last weekend to Novak Djokovic, pressing hard from the No. 2 ranking spot.

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I could be wrong of course. But it seems to me that Rafa has never fully recovered from the 1st bout of illness in Doha. He hasn't played that well in US or on clay. If he is exhausted in final in Miami & Djoker isn't, what does that say? I contend he is not fully healthy from virus, and pushing himself from tournie to tournie will catch up with him. But where, RG or Wimby? I hope I am wrong but I think anyone observing his level of play can see this is prob true.

patzin , 5/13/11 5:18 PM

I agree with your observation patzin, I am glad he is through to the semis but at what cost? Time will tell.............

rafaisthebest , 5/13/11 5:34 PM

It is possible that you are right, Patzin. But I also think people are underestimating the effects of Nole's changed diet, and his much improved fitness.

samprallica , 5/13/11 5:40 PM

Alas I agree too. I've written just a couple of times here but thought all along since January that Rafa has not played like he used to ever since that virus. It seems he has not yet regained his fitness nor his confidence... even if he has played some of the matches with *sufficient* confidence. I have been finding this very sad as now that his knees are apparently just fine after the last injections treatment last summer.. he is nowhere near his level of last spring and summer. This is not the 2011 season I fully expected. Like I always say: I always wish only one thing for Rafa, which is to be healthy and fit, as he takes care of everything else just fine then.

chlorostoma , 5/13/11 5:43 PM

Rafa may well just be as stubborn as a "bull"!!!!

Lets just hope he will surf the wave and the next week's rest will do him some good.


Monalysa , 5/13/11 5:52 PM

I sure hope he is not jeapardising RG............I have said it before, as far as Rome is concerned, I only wanted him to go deep and reaching the semis is deep enough for me....he has achieved one objective: retaining #1 for another week at least. Like others have observed, he is nowhere near his A game. While this B game may be enough to dispatch the Cilics of this world, it will not be enough to beat Nole or Andy...............

I would like him to go home now, get some rest, hopefully get that virus out of his system because RG is going to be brutal.......everybody is now going on court with less fear, seeing as how Nole has bested him of late........

rafaisthebest , 5/13/11 6:03 PM

Rafa hasn't looked great since Doha IMO, but he's got to soldier on and hope he doesn't make it worse. In the finals in Madrid, he was clearly not playing his usual game, he was moving around as if he had weights around his ankles.

Half of me thinks he should get some rest and the other half wouldn't want him to surrender the No 1 ranking without a fight, so I hope it works OK in the end. For years he was playing with pain in his knees, and some of his epic victories were won when he was injured, so let's hope for the best.

nadline , 5/13/11 6:06 PM

Uncle Toni has now scored a first, unless I'm wrong, as the only coach whose picture has ever appeared on a TT blog.

nadline , 5/13/11 6:08 PM

^^ true...

but given that it was due to Mr Lindahl's effort ... :-)

chlorostoma , 5/13/11 6:11 PM

Well Rafa has some easy matches here so far, other than his second round match. If Berdych and Gasquet are killing themselves trying to get to the semi, it works in Rafa's favor. Sod vs Nole may be another brutal match, follwowed by Sod/Nole vs Murray, all these may work in Rafa's favor. As long as Rafa himself feels well enough to play, nobody can stop him from playing. Whether it's a right or wrong decision(to carry on playing), we won't know until the FO and Wimbledon. We just have to respect his decision and wish him well.

luckystar , 5/13/11 6:21 PM

Nole may have his changed diet but Rafa doesn't even need to change his diet and still can deal with the heat when his fitness is at his normal level. The heat at AO is worst than in Miami and matches played there are all best of fives. I don't see a healthy and fit Rafa having problem there all these years. It's just that Rafa still had not regain his normal fitness level at the Miami Masters that he suffered under the heat. It's not like this was the first time Rafa played there.

luckystar , 5/13/11 6:31 PM

rafaisthebest , 5/13/11 6:56 PM

Apart from a few mental lapses, Gaquet is playing smooth tennis.............hmmm

rafaisthebest , 5/13/11 7:09 PM

Uncle Toni isn't really one to keep such opinions to himself, rafaisthebest.

I think he wants everyone to know that if his nephew behaves in a way that one might call...ermm...dumb, he isn't responsible. :D

cherylmurray , 5/13/11 7:11 PM

I hope Rafa is proved right in the end.

nadline , 5/13/11 7:20 PM

I hear you Cheryl.....but why would Uncle T want to "cover his a**"........I mean, it's not as if he is in danger of being fired...........Rafa may make "questionable" decisions sometimes, but on Uncle T, he is not dumb.

Pivot to "Reeshad".........what's up with him? He brought his triple A plus game to Rome...........please don't tell me he is another one who has discovered the benefits of a gluten-free diet...............somebody please tell him the "star" carriage is full!

Can you imagine having to "deal" with Reeshad's fans on top of............aaaaaghhhhh!

rafaisthebest , 5/13/11 7:32 PM

Maybe ree-shahr decided to throw some inconsistency into his inconsistency.

Cheryl, so according to you Rafa's decision to keep playing is... ahem... dumb?

chlorostoma , 5/13/11 8:36 PM

I think he knows his body well, so lets leave it to him and just wish him well and hope it doesnt cost him dearly @ RG. We could see a notable diff in the way he has been hitting his shots against Lopez & Cilic, was defo better than Lorenzi or whoever that guy was. Lets not forget one thing, if he was @ full fitness he could ve beaten Nole in Miami. I m sure most of us here are of the opinion that Rafa has played below his potential i.e only his 'B' game but Nole has always had to play his 'A' game to beat Rafa. Form his interview today, seems like he wants a revenge final where he could wax Nole. I am hoping that its another Rafa v Nole final @ Rome and see his words come true. If he wins, he will surely take that confidence level to RG and 99.9% will win it unless virus or something of that sort spoils his condition. I d put my money on Rafa on anyday when it comes to grand slams. Would be interesting to see if Nole could outlast Rafa in a best of 5 setter, only time will tell.

vamosrafa0908 , 5/14/11 5:11 AM

We have to wait for the semifinals to be over to see whether Rafa and Nole can meet in the final. I'm especially interested in the Nole/Murray semifinal. Let's see what Murray can bring to the table to harm Nole.

From the QF match, I could see that Nole is not playing at his best level at the moment, probably fatigue had caught up with him. It's for the others to take advantage of it. Sod couldn't take advantage of it yesterday as he himself was exhausted by his long matches in his previous two rounds. Had he converted one or two of his break points and went on to win the first set, things might turn out differently for Sod. Nole, whether tired or not, was able to remain calm and focused to weather all storm in the end, a mark of a champion.

I'm not sure at this point whether Rafa is in a good condition (confidence and fitness wise) to face off with Nole, or even Murray in the final (of course Rafa has to beat Gasquet first in the semi). I certainly don't want to see another three/four hours final match ending with both players exhausted and killing each other's chances for the coming FO. Why must Murray and Nole fight so hard to dislodge Rafa, and many times spoiling Rafa's chances the following day to win his match(es), worst still, spoiling his chances to defend his slams? Rafa please be super aggressive when you meet them in the future, don't let them dictate play. You clearly have all your weapons to deal with them, please us all of them to your full advantage and stop wasting your time and your energy. Vamos Rafa, do it for us and for yourself!

luckystar , 5/14/11 6:42 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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