I’m here at the Falling Rock Cafe on the shores of Lake Superior catching up on the tennis action at SW19. It was nerve wracking logging onto Wimbledon.org without knowing anything of the past days’ results. Did Arnaud Clement upset Roger 102-100 in the fifth set? Did Rafa announce he was leaving tennis to join the Spanish World Cup team? Is Lindsay Davenport playing pro tennis again? (Oh, wait. . .)
Phew! Besides Victor Hanescu’s spitting spat with the crowd on Court 18 – the Romanian was fined $15,000 for “unsportsmanlike conduct” and “not using best efforts” after getting into it with the crowd and pulling out of his match down 0-3 in the fifth – everything seems to be progressing as expected. Roger dominated old Arnaud. Serena won yet another set 6-0. John Isner flopped in his second round match. Lindsay Davenport’s return to the pro circuit came to an end in the second round of the mixed doubles. And Rafael Nadal is still playing tennis.
At least for now. Wimbledon may be moving along, but Rafael Nadal’s road to a second Wimbledon trophy has hit some major road bumps. We wondered if he was catching Roger’s five-set-itis when the unheralded Robin Haase took him the distance in his second round match. But after winning Saturday’s 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 battle vs. Philipp Petzschner, it’s obvious that Rafa’s suffering from more than a twenty-four hour tennis bug. He called the trainer out multiple times to work on his left arm and his right knee and quad. (Petzschner, who played two five-setters prior to this third round match, also called on the trainer for hip and back issues.) Adding insult to injury, Rafa was scolded by the chair umpire for illegal coaching.
Ah, controversy. Commentators like Boris Becker and Patrick McEnroe reportedly wondered aloud if Rafa’s tactics were more gamesmanship than real injury. And Petzschner made this comment after the match (via ESPN):
“I thought he was moving great,” the German said. “I only could say if I would be injured like this once I would be happy [to be moving that well]. No, but I don’t know. Maybe he had something. Maybe it was just a clever part to take a timeout there. I don’t know.”
Rafa refuted such claims in his post-match presser, saying (via TennisReporters): “If I called the physio it means my knee was hurting a lot.” Even more convincing: he’s reportedly pulled out of the Davis Cup quarterfinal between Spain and France in early July, in order to have treatment on his knee.
I didn’t see the match so I’m relying on you guys to tell me how it unfolded. Regardless of the timing of the trainer visits, I find it hard to believe that Rafa would call the trainer for anything less than a serious injury. One thing is certain – Rafa’s still in the tournament. He gets Paul-Henri Mathieu in his next round.
The next rounds won’t be played until Monday. Wimbledon is conveniently giving everyone the day off on Sunday so I can fly back to civilization without missing another exciting moment. And considering some of the upcoming action – Serena vs. Sharapova, Clijsters vs. Henin, Djokovic vs. Hewitt and Querrey vs. Murray - it’s not just Rafa and me who need the day off to prepare.
For those of you looking for a Federer fix – thanks to Dari for sharing the link!