Rafael to re­sume the fray

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

WASH­ING­TON: Over the past 10 weeks Rafael Nadal had lit­tle choice but to put his feet up and re­lax at home in Ma­jorca while his ri­vals chased af­ter the big­gest prizes in the sport.

In­stead of de­fend­ing his cher­ished Wim­ble­don crown, Nadal had to nurse his sore knees and over­come the ef­fects of ten­dini­tis.

Af­ter his en­forced break, the six-times Grand Slam cham­pion made his come­back ear­lier this month in Montreal, where he sat down to have a chat with Reuters to dis­cuss his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and his hopes for the US Open, at Flush­ing Mead­ows on Mon­day. NADAL: “I think I am go­ing to have more op­tions in the next few years. The im­por­tant thing is to feel con­fi­dent with my knees and when I feel con­fi­dent with my knees, I’m go­ing to be able to prac­tise harder and find my best per­for­mance.

It’s tough to say if I am go­ing to be ready 100 per­cent for the US Open. But I will try. “It seems my knees are much bet­ter. But you never know. I have to play at the top level to feel the ef­fect. “I was watch­ing my knees with the doc­tors, and yeah I un­der­went a lot of treat­ment. I don’t know ex­actly what pre­cau­tions I can take, but I learned some­thing about this in­jury and it can be im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion for the fu­ture.” “Not at all. I wasn’t in good con­di­tion when I ar­rived at two im­por­tant tour­na­ments of the sea­son – Roland Gar­ros and Wim­ble­don. But oth­er­wise I am okay. I am very happy to be back on court, ex­cited and mo­ti­vated to work hard to try and play my best ten­nis as soon as pos­si­ble. ”Well, it’s clear that the cal­en­dar can’t be per­fect for every­one but I think that we – the play­ers, the ATP – are work­ing hard to try to de­velop the best pos­si­ble cal­en­dar for the play­ers and for the tour­na­ments.

“I think every­one knows that start­ing on Jan­uary 1 and end­ing on De­cem­ber 5 is too long of a cal­en­dar but it’s not easy to fix be­cause there are many tour­na­ment in­ter­ests at play and ev­ery­thing is very dif­fi­cult and you can’t scorn any tour­na­ment. We must try to find the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tion. What needs to need to change? “Things need to change. I be­lieve the bad thing about the cal­en­dar is how it is made and ob­li­gates you to play tour­na­ments all year. If you want to achieve the most you can (and) go as high up (in the rank­ings) as you can, you have to play from the start to the fin­ish. de­fend your ti­tle this year? “It was al­ways re­ally tough to lose a tour­na­ment or miss a tour na­ment for in­jury, you know. But the truth is, I wasn’t ready to play in Wim­ble­don. So I feel very bad but that’s the thing. Three months ago you were the de­fend­ing cham­pion at three Grand Slam events and the world num­ber one. Now you only have the Aus­tralian Open ti­tle in your pos­ses­sion and are no longer ranked num­ber one, has that changed your out­look go­ing into the US Open? ”I am not num­ber one right now, but I al­ways say the same thing. My mo­ti­va­tion and as­pi­ra­tion is the same, be­ing num­ber one or be­ing num­ber five. So that’s the truth. And my goal is the same – it’s to al­ways be happy play­ing, it’s to en­joy the game and im­prove al­ways. “Not right now, no. Right now I am only think­ing of my knees and am try­ing to find my best per­for­mance. You are ob­vi­ously think­ing of short term goals right now, but get­ting back to the num­ber one spot, is that a long term goal for you? “No, not right now. I was very happy to be num­ber one for al­most a year. But, no my goal is to be com­pet­i­tive, to try and win im­por­tant tour­na­ments. Was this break good in any way for you? Did you en­joy time off from the game? “It was tough be­cause with this in­jury I couldn’t move a lot. So the doc­tors told me to re­lax and I am a very pro­duc­tive per­son. I like to al­ways be ac­tive and play­ing a sport, and well, I did im­por­tant things like travel around Ma­jorca in a boat. It was un­be­liev­able. So it feels good to be back in action again? “Sure. It’s al­ways a plea­sure be­ing in tour na­ments. Very happy to come back to the tour and I ex­pect to play my best ten­nis in the next weeks.” Al­though Roger Fed­erer won the French Open and Wim­ble­don ti­tles this year, some peo­ple said his vic­to­ries might be de­val­ued be­cause he did not beat you at the two tour­na­ments. “The im­por­tant thing is to win the tour­na­ment. It doesn’t mat­ter who you win against in the fi­nal. For me a win against Roger is al­ways very, very spe­cial, but I would love to win any Grand Slam against some­one in the fi­nal. (laughs). Doesn’t mat­ter who the ri­val is.”

AMER­ICA SHOW­DOWN: Rafael Nadal and US Open cham­pion Roger Fed­erer.

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