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Saturday, June 15, 2013

In 2005 Fall, Federer suffered a serious injury

Since the 2005 World Tour Finals (Tennis Masters Cup), Nadal's never-ending injury excuses have created skepticim. In 2005 Fall, Federer suffered a serious injury: he tore ligaments in his right ankle, was in a cast and crutches for weeks, and was forced to skip Madrid indoor Masters, Basel and Paris Masters (it was expected Roger would shut down for the season rather than risk further injury playing the WTF) -- Roger missed a total of four Masters events in 2005 due to injury (Rome, Canada were the other two events). About one week after Federer announced his injury, Nadal won the Madrid indoor Masters in a 4-hour, 5-set final against Ljubicic on October 17 -- the Rafa immediately claimed he too hurt his left foot. Nadal skipped the Paris Masters. Nadal then flew all the way to Shanghai to compete in the World Tour Finals, expecting Federer would not compete (and therefore his chances of winning the prestigious event and big ranking points would be greater). But surprise: Federer did unexpectedly show up in Shanghai, unsure whether or not he would compete. By the eve of the tournament, it looked likely that Roger would compete. On the first day of the tournament, Nadal pulled out of his first round-robin match -- less than two hours before his match was due to start (he pulled out while Agassi-Davydenko were playing their first match of the day). Nadal had over three weeks between his Madrid final on October 17 and first WTF match on November 14: surely he was fully aware of the status of his 'injury' having had multiple scans and treatments during that time? Nadal chose to take the next three months until mid February, off claiming he was struggling with his left foot injury. If it was such a serious injury, surely he would have known before flying to Shanghai that he was unable to compete?
Two years later, in late November 2007, Nadal's coach Toni dramatically left the impression that Nadal's 2005 foot injury was potentially career-ending (his comments came days after Federer crushed Nadal in 59 minutes in the WTF semifinal) causing concern with Rafa's fans and probably sponsors. Rafa and his publicist Benito immediately rebutted Toni's claims, arguing the injury was never that serious.
Nadal skipped, for the third time, the 2012 World Tour Finals. Nadal claimed he was unable to play for seven months after 2012 Wimbledon. But it's more likely that he timed his absence to skip the entire hardcourt stretch. It was obvious from the Wimbledon/Olympic results that Federer, Murray and Djokovic were playing at a very high level, and that they would likely dominate the hardcourt season. Since Nadal was unlikely to challenge for No.1 ranking after losing to Rosol at wimbledon, it was logical to shut down for the season. Nadal obviously used the seven-month break to change his racquet to an improved model, develop new tactics and put in a lot of practise to improve his game.
- How could Nadal have been so injured that it required a seven-month recuperation period? There were no signs of hampered movement in Nadal's two 2012 Wimbledon matches. Even Steve Tignor (who is a fan of Nadal) noted that Nadal did not appear injured or hampred in movement during his loss to Rosol -- indeed, Tignor chose that match as Tennis Mag's best match of the year. Tignor noted: "My policy is, even if a player later says that he was injured, if I didn't notice that he was impaired on court, I’m not going to make it a significant part of my assessment of the match. Watching the tape of Rosol-Nadal then, and watching the clip above now, I can’t see any moment when Rafa was obviously hindered by his creaky knees. (I’ve always felt the same way about his loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open in 2009...)" Obviously there was never any serious injury with his knees in his last matches before he took a break. And the fact that Nadal felt fit enough to play doubles at both 2012 Indian Wells (won title) and Miami contradicts his claim that his injuries started before Indian Wells.
- During his seven month break, Nadal played several golf tournaments. Knee injuries are the second most common golf injury, so you'd think he would have done everything possible to heal himself (like Federer did before 2005 World Tour Finals, when he tore his ankle ligaments four weeks earlier). Nadal is a right-handed golfer, so he puts stress on his left knee (the supposedly injured knee) whenever he swings his golf club. For example, here's Nadal playing in the Baleares golf championship last September, during the 2012 US Open, putting stress on his knees.
Unlike Federer, Nadal tends to stay away from tennis tournaments whenever he is likely to lose -- thus denying Federer and other players the opportunities to beat Rafa and bring balance to their head to head records. For this reason alone, the H2H records with Nadal are misleading.

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