Agree with your assessment VamosRafaNadal
. I think if push came to shove he could have played and maybe won a match or two in Australia -- after all he was practicing with Moya who said that he was playing well; Toni said his level was good etc.; and Nadal said that though his knee was still a bit of a problem, it was a lot better than before. However ultimately as he could not have the "test" he wanted in Abu Dhabi and Doha they decided to be more conservative - why risk 5 set matches on hard court in 30C heat to get to the 4th round or QF? What is that worth to Nadal? Not much. He wants to either be able to fight for the big titles or not be on court at this stage in his career I think.
So I think the plan to return on the South American clay and get enough matches and rhythm in the run up to Monte Carlo makes sense. His PR
manager Benito tweeted to a fan that Nadal was practicing on clay; Moya again gave an interview saying he thinks Nadal will be back at his usual/normal level this year; Toni has said the same -- said he doesn't know when he'll get there but that Nadal's time on court has been good. And finally his agent Carlos Costa was reported to be in discussions with Vina del Mar this week. There have been reports from Argentina and Brazil too about him playing. Obviously he won't play all 4 tournaments in the Golden Swing, but think they're sounding out who offers the best package/appearance fees and also keeping doors open in case he crashes out early for example and wants some matches in another tournament unexpectedly.
If we don't see him in February, then there will be deeper questions I think. But for now I think in a month or so we should have some idea of how he is and how he's playing.
He was going to fall out of the top 4 regardless really. Ferrer was very close -- getting to the Final again and defending the points in his first tournament back was a long shot really. Whether he lost no.4 at the AO or at IW or Miami etc. the likelihood of him being able to avoid it was low. As for avoiding Djoko in the QFs - he'll play 1 or 2 HC tournaments (IW and/or Miami) and after that it'll all be clay. Think Novak might not be as happy to see him as a QF opponent either. Fact is on clay not being top 4 is the not the biggest thing for him.
Ranking alone is not a good enough reason to risk his body in the heat on those hard courts over 5 sets. He has nothing to defend after RG practically so makes more sense to focus on clay so he can defend a lot of those points (and win more in South America) and then gain points for rest of year after RG.
I totally agree with you. There is no need to come back early. Rafa has to feel that he is really ready to compete and play to win tournaments (otherwise, there is not a strong reason for Rafa to play tennis (apart from having fun) as he has won almost everything).
He said that the ranking for him it is not important. It's important to be the number one of the world, but if you had reached the nº1 and now you're out of this position, there is not a strongly reason to be worried of being nº2 or nº5. Of course draws will be more hard with a lower rank than nº5, but I don't that Rafa's rank will fall out of the first six players of the ATP ranking. And if he feels that he is able to compete, it is a good challenge for him. He plays for winning tournaments, and in a tournament you've to beat the best players. I think that Djokovic will be worried if he meets Nadal on a QF of Roland Garros, for example. Nadal has nothing to proove on clay, but Djokovic wants to complete the Grand Slam in career.
We'll see. There are reasons to think in positive. Barbadillo said that "Rafa is better now he is recovering and expected to return to the South American tour on clay Acapulco probably or possibly earlier. Indeed, he began to feel ill about 20 December. Doctors diagnosed a virus and recommended three weeks of rest. perhaps he was able to play here at the Australian Open, but, frankly, come unprepared, after six months of absence, it would be very unwise. In my opinion, this is the right decision. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the knee. I know that no one believes it, but it's true! He caught a virus that is painful, but it is not very serious.".
What a level-headed poster this "VamosRafaNadal" is.
Thanks a lot. I'm a Nadal fan, of course, but I'm not a Nadaltard. My love for tennis is more important than any tennis player that can play this game. I like all these guys on court, with their different game styles (but it is true that I preffer some kind of play among others). I think that tennis is a high-technique sport that allows us to have some great talks and new friendly discussions almost every day (as tennis is played almost every day) that can enrich us a lot. Of course that we can do some friendly trolling sometimes, be serious always is boring, but I think that in tennis there is not place for fanaticism and there is always a lot to learn. One of the synonyms of tennis is respect, and we can see it on the tennis court (where the croud supports more the game than the players). I'm in MTF to learn more about tennis and have a great time (and I think that this forum has some nice users that are interesting to read). Otherwise, I'll dedicate my free time to be a football extremist (something very common here in Spain).