Big, big mistake. *from another board - translated from a Spanish paper*
Nadal out to repeat "formula for success" in 2008
Madrid.–With the 2007 season about to come to a close, Spaniard Rafael Nadal already has it quite clear that in 2008 he will opt for the same "formula for success" that has enabled him to maintain himself as the principal threat to the king of tennis, the Swiss Roger Federer, for the third year running.
That "formula" implies sacrifices: if health and logic had precedence in sport, Nadal would be playing in Latin America in February, in Buenos Aires and Acapulco to be exact, two of the most important tournaments in the region, both of them played on clay.
But in a superstar's career, other aspects also come into play and, because of that, Nadal will play in Rotterdam and Dubai, two tournaments that are not very kind to his long-suffering joints, which this year have once again complicated his season and threaten to keep on doing so, as his injuries are chronic.
There is another angle to it all: the tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai pay extremely motivating extra sums of money to ensure they get their stars, especially the event in the Arab emirate.
"Of course it would be better to play on clay, because of his knee problems, for his feet and ankles. But it can't be," Toni Nadal, the world number two's uncle and trainer enigmatically told dpa. "There is no possibility of Rafa playing in Acapulco or Buenos Aires," insisted Toni Nadal.
"He is going to play in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells after the Australian Open and the Davis Cup in Perú, because if not it will make for a very long tour." Last week, The Acapulco tournament director, Raúl Zurutuza, and Miguel Nido, president of the company that organizes the Buenos Aires one, had expressed to dpa their hope that Nadal would finally play in Latin America in February.
"You must take into account that he now has a Davis Cup match in Perú after the Australian Open. It is not so easy to travel to Rotterdam and Dubai from here and then return to the United States to play in Indian Wells," Zurutuza ventured to say.
But Toni Nadal has put paid to any glimmer of hope the Mexicans and Argentines may have had. The question that now arises is whether Nadal's body will be able to put up with the demands of a fourth year chasing Federer.
On Friday afternoon, after suffering the most overwhelming defeat in his career, in the Madrid quarter finals at the hands of the Argentine David Nalbandian, it appeared that at least he is mentally prepared to keep on dealing with the enormous pressure of being a star, of being famous.
Nadal was playing table tennis in the player's lounge with a little boy, very far removed from the pretensions of so many of sport's superstars
A few metres away Toni Nadal was setting forth the objectives for 2008: ahead of catching Federer, the aim is to maintain himself in the second place in the ranking.
"I'm much more worried about those that are coming up from behind than about Federer. The Murrays, the Djokovics, the Gasquets... ".
That Nadal of 2005 with the face of an adolescent and an almost permanent smile that swung between happiness and astonishment no longer exists.
It is true that the Spaniard is still one of sport's diplomats, a naturally pleasant young man.
But there is much pressure on him, and what was once fascination and discovery has become more of a routine; a routine he values highly, but routine just the same.
Where is Nadal's smile?
His uncle thinks that what has happened is logical: "Rafa is perfectly well, the thing is that it is not the same when you are on the way up as when you have to defend what you have achieved."
That is what 2008 is all about. It will probably be the toughest season in Rafael Nadal's life.
There is much at stake: the possibility of a Davis Cup final, the battle for an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, and the ever increasing pressure of a Novak Djokovic who wants to fight directly with Federer for the world number one by leaping over the Spaniard who is still holding his own in second place.