Sick Rafa hoping to rebound at Indian Wells

Published by Matt Trollope

Rafael Nadal faced the press on Friday evening ahead of his doubles match with Bernard Tomic at Indian Wells; Getty Images
Illness prevented Rafael Nadal from practising the last two days in Indian Wells. But the No.5 seed hopes to be back to full strength when he plays singles at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal was supposed to speak to the media at about midday on Friday before postponing that appearance until 7.30pm.

When he finally got to the press conference room, he wasn’t in a particularly expansive mood.

Perhaps it didn’t help matters that not one question, until the very end, related to his singles campaign at the venue he’d arrived at to play.

He was asked about his epic Australian Open final against Roger Federer in January.

“We talked enough. I almost don’t forget about it,” he said, before going on to acknowledge the importance of the match.

He was then asked if he was surprised about Toni Nadal’s decision to step down as his coach at the end of 2017.

“Surprised? Well, I talked enough about that, too, no?” he answered, before stressing the importance of family over tennis.

What about recent changes proposed for the Davis Cup? Would appearance fees placate the players and encourage them to play more regularly?

“I never talk about money on the press. That’s not gonna be my first time. No, no,” Nadal said.

On it went. Yet finally, we got to the reason Nadal was actually here.

How was he feeling ahead of his 12th consecutive appearance at the BNP Paribas Open?

“I was a little bit sick two days, so I couldn’t practice for two days. I start to practicing yesterday for the first time,” he revealed.

“Today, I practiced again and today I have doubles (with Bernard Tomic).

“But is obvious that when you get sick you lose a little bit of the power for a couple of days. So I hope to recover myself good and feel myself ready to compete at the highest level possible.”

Nadal will need to find all the energy he can muster as soon as possible, for the Spaniard has landed in a quarter of the draw that has been termed the “group of death” thanks to the sheer number of quality players lurking within it.

There’s Federer, three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, former major champion Juan Martin del Potro and rising stars Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev. Among others.

But Nadal wasn’t in the mood for any such discussions.

“I know I am playing with Guillermo Garcia or Guido Pella first round, and that’s all what I can say now,” he said.

“If the things go well, we will have time to talk about the draw.”

His first priority is his first-round doubles match with Tomic, which will be his first competitive hit-out in a week since falling in the Acapulco final to Sam Querrey.

It’s his first time teaming with the Australian; they come up against Nadal’s compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta – with whom he won the Beijing title with last year – and Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

“I play doubles for fun and for practice a little bit, too, no? Before the singles start,” he explained of his partnership with Tomic.

“I supposed to play with Bernard in Brisbane. That will make sense, because his house. And for me was something that I like the idea.

“Then I said to him that I could not play there because I had to play with Marc Lopez to prepare the Davis Cup, but Marc Lopez four days or two days before the tournament start decide not to go. So was late to play with him.

“I said with him, that’s what happened. I have to play with Marc. And if we can change Brisbane for Indian Wells, will be great for me.”

We’ll get an idea of how Nadal has recovered from his illness on Friday night when he joins forces with Tomic.

If he survives that test, all eyes will turn to the mammoth singles campaign set out before him.

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