The following article by Frédéric Bernès appeared in L'Equipe on 25 September 2012. It has been translated for us by Moondancer.
So often, we announced that Rafael Nadal is finished Ė replace Rafael Nadal with Roger Federer and youíll see that it applies that way too Ė but one moment, youíll have to be right. Why should we be more worried this time? First of all, because he was never forced to have stop for such a long time. Secondly, because in the effort of reinforcing his knee, they had to apply plasma transfusions, anti-inflammatory medication and injections. There comes a time when the body just can no longer cope. Thirdly and thereís a direct link, because when the body doesnít stop in the first place, the mind will be able to endure the suffering for a longer time in the hope of winning. Winning when youíve already won everything.
Nadal knew all too well that the question about "the end of something" would be thrown on the table during the interview. He has already answered many questions since, letís say 2006, about serious problems with his feet that really made him fear the worst. In Madrid, did he appear to be worried? Was there weariness? Did he appear fed up? Did he appear to be preoccupied? No, no, no and no. During this interview, we have seen him as being nothing but relaxed. And he was very clear in what he said. He will only start playing again when heís sure that his knees will be strong again. The most painful part was not being able to go to the Olympics. Thereís no hurry now. Sure, but this Hoffa syndrome? The name sounds scary, but this illness is not as bad as long as itís taken care of. Besides, Nadalís doctors have repeatedly confirmed that this syndrome has nothing to do with a possible degeneration of the patellar tendons. They have even assured that the boyís tendons are in as good a state as theyíve been in for a long time.
Remains the question about desire (eagerness). Nadal has proven himself sufficiently in this area so weíre giving him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, when we ask him whether heís thinking of becoming a dad soon, his reply is quite telling: "Itís not the right moment for me. I still have a couple of years in my career." The career, exactly. Itís just an intuition but for an hour, we never had the impression that we were talking to somebody who was thinking of playing again this year. He cited only two tournament names: Doha and the Australian Open. So, next year. Besides, we canít find a good reason for him to come back to play indoors, on surfaces that arenít good for his knees (an abrasive surface) nor for his game (he has never won in Bercy or the Masters, his last indoors title goes back to Madrid 2005). Even for the Davis Cup final, in Berdychís home, he would have to be very strong to really be helpful. Itís not certain that Nadal will come back quickly. But we see no reason why he shouldn't come back to where he was before.