Rafa and Toni Nadal: An Excess of Nectar Is Equivalent to Poison

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IJune 10, 2009

Rafael Nadal- just a few months back, he was the man of the moment: from Down Under to the city of fashion, everything seemed to be going great for him; it appeared as if the Gods of tennis had blessed him with everything they could think of, and could conjure up.

But was everything so hunky dory? In and out, back-to-back he played on and on and on. Sometimes masterfully striking, while sometimes making his body slog for his accomplishments; it was the end which mattered and not how he had achieved the end!

He played, he won, and by winning he conquered.

And then came the clay season - the time when Rafa turned the master, his dominance of the surface so emphatic that he offered no leeway to any rival; even the mighty Federer, couldn't stop him in his tracks.

Rafa was invincible in these parts and squaring off against him, was perhaps the easiest way to get back to "home sweet home."

And this where the dream started to flicker. The amount of clay court tournaments Rafa packed into  his schedule, not even a recently turned pro could have managed to accommodate.

Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Madrid - four tournaments as a preparatory for the "grand" Roland Garros where he hoped to surpass a legend's record.

It was necessarily unnecessary; his knees were still reeling from a lot of strain and there he was gearing up to play in the cooped up, tightly bottled pickle-jar kind of tournaments, which meant two months of continuous, strenuous pressure, even though it was on his beloved surface.

As much as his knees were tortured, he tortured them even the more by winning three out of the above mentioned four tournaments, finishing as a finalist in the fourth.

Who takes these decisions for him is unknown but even common, laymanish knowledge perceives and knows that fixing four clay events for a person who is undoubtedly the best clay courter at the moment, is blatantly foolish.

And what purpose did it serve? His over-wrought knees have ended up getting inflamed again. His website quotes him as saying that he played most of the past months in complete agony and pain, not to mention he suffered a defeat that pushed him to the abyss of "many a slip between the cup and the lip."

Even if we take into consideration that the 1000s Masters was compulsory, what made him play at Barcelona: crowd support or was it ranking points?

If it were the former, then it's a known fact that his supporters don't exist only in Spain; they are there all over the world and thinking sanely, which "Foul Weather Fan" would want his idol to endanger his career just because of crowd support?

And if it were the latter, Rafa was firmly ensconced as the World No. 1 with a point gap of more than 4000 points separating him and Federer.

In fact seeing it that way, even Federer who continuously faced an overhauling threat from Nole at the beginning and then Murray, didn't compromise when it came to his back injury rehabilitation process. So what was Rafa actually thinking with his professional mind?

In parallel, in the midst of all this emotionally upheaving drama, now bordering on a grave tragedy, the name of Toni Nadal too does come often to mind. As a coach and more importantly as a close-relative, one might think as to could he be so callous with regards to his nephew/protege's scheduling.

At a stage when winning Masters is not your first aim for your student, the priority is on how to maximise the number of his slam trophies, and Toni Nadal's no-say in the matter is indeed surprising; or is he the one who forced Rafa to play in all the events, aggravating his injury and turning himself meek owing to what might constitute his worst professional blunder?

Currently as Rafa ponders over his next move: to play or not to play in the big "W", as his fans hold their breath and pray anxiously for his thumping return to the sport; there is just one lingering thunder cloud-ish thought in almost everyone's mind - will his illustrious career be cut short, even before it could overwhelm completely, in the erroneous wake of one faulty daily planner?