By Barbara Galiza
(February 12, 2013) São Paulo – Returning to Brazil for the first time since 2005, Rafael Nadal will play the ATP 250 São Paulo this week. In his pre-tournament news conference, the world No. 5 commented on the improvements on his health and the new enforcement of the “25 seconds between serves” rule.
“People want to see long matches, competitive rallies and amazing shots. For me to play in a high level for four hours, I need more than 25 seconds,” said the Spaniard, famous for taking long between serves. ”I don’t think players are happy with the new rule. The umpire will have to decide when it’s up to follow it or not. Because if it’s something mathematical, it will harm the fans.”
Nadal returned to competition last week, in Chile, after being away from tour for seven months because of a knee injury. He was the runner up in Viña Del Mar, losing to the Horacio Zeballos, ranked 73th.
“I’m not ready to think about titles, I’m thinking about playing day by day”, he said. “I’m not worried whether this (the injury) is going to be a problem for the future, I’m worried about the time it will take (to be 100%). Last week was a positive result. There are days my knee limits me physically, but there are days it’s better. Every week, I have less bad days.”
To Nadal, part of the blame for his injury is the length of the hardcourt season. The surface isn’t ideal to the body.
“I find hardcourts the worst for the body. You don’t see footballers playing on hard fields, or any other sports with aggressive moments (being practiced on the same surface). They’re the most harming for articulations, knees, backs.”
“I don’t think a change to more clay and grass tournaments will be possible in my generation. The ATP needs to be more careful to prolong their player’s careers. I want to be able to still practice sports after I retire. Tennis careers are very important, but life is more,” said the 26-year-old player.
Even though he said to be taking tournaments day by day, the Spaniard admitted that the next Olympic Games is something in his mind:
“Being in Rio 2016 is a big goal of mine. I want to be there in condition to compete and also win what could be my last Olympics.”
Nadal also reaffirmed his stance on public records of the anti-doping controls held by the ITF. To him, if blood tests and urine tests are kept private, tennis is at risk.
“We need to know the person on the other side of the net is in the same condition as you are. Sport needs to be example to kids and an example of hard work. Everyone needs to know how many blood test and urine tests we go through or we will have the same problem as cycling”, he said.
Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open as media in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.