If Rafa’s 6-0, 6-1 destruction of Fernando Verdasco in Monte-Carlo on Sunday wasn’t statement enough to the clay court plebes in the locker room, now there’s this (via SportingLife):
“I regret not being able to play in Barcelona, more than any other tournament, but this year after winning in Monte Carlo I must rest my body,” Nadal said in a statement published on the Marca website.
“I feel it especially not being able to play because it is my home tournament.
“I have said repeatedly that the long tennis season, particularly the clay-court season, is badly structured and for me not being able to play in Barcelona is a consequence of this.
“I want to thank in advance the club members, tournament organisers and all the fans for their understanding.
“Tomorrow I will be available for the tournament organisers.”
This is a major departure from Nadal’s previous clay court campaigns. Like last week’s Monte-Carlo Masters, Rafa is also five-time defending champ in Barcelona. Though he’s complained about the packed clay court schedule, he’s also maintained that winning back-to-back-to-back clay court tournys has been a solid way to prepare for Roland Garros:
Nadal told the press not to question his scheduling after losing to Soderling in Paris last year:
“Yeah, when you lose, always everybody startsto analyze if I play too much. If I’m tired. The true, I won (Roland Garros) four years in a row playing the same. That’s the true. This year I play the same and I lost. What happen? I lost. That’s it.
That what happened. I lost another opportunity to win a big tournament here. Always is a big loss for me. But in the end is one more match, yeah.”
Perhaps pulling out of Wimbledon, retiring in Australia this year and thumping the “f’ing” knees a few weeks ago in Miami has convinced him that he needs to cut down the play on clay. I guess doubters and worrywarts may wonder if Rafa’s knees are hurting him more and more lately, and that his dominating play in Monte-Carlo was fueled by sheer need to get off the court as quickly as possible. But I prefer the way Barcelona tournament director Albert Costa puts it (via BBC):
“We wish Rafa the best of luck. We know it is a measured decision and that it will have been tough to take.
“The player has to know when to listen to his body.”
What do you think?
Rafa’s next scheduled tournament is the Rome Masters, starting April 24.