"Rafa doesn't stay frustrated for long."
By Álvaro Rama Translated by nou.amic for www.vamosbrigade.com

For El Confidencial, Álvaro Rama wrote:

"A Nadal le duran poco las decepciones". Así es Rafa como paciente
Una lesión similar a la sufrida en Australia le ha obligado a renunciar a Acapulco, Indian Wells y Miami.
Su médico, Ángel Ruiz Cotorro, explica cómo es el Rafa Nadal paciente

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The following translation is by nou.amic, exclusively for vamosbrigade.com

"Rafa doesn't stay frustrated for long."
This is how Nadal is as a patient.

"Unlike many people, Rafa doesn't stay frustrated for long." In a didactic tone and with permanent calm in his words, Dr Ángel Ruiz Cotorro gave his professional opinion of one of the most valued figures in the world of sport, Rafael Nadal, as a patient. In his conversation with El Confidencial, the doctor, who is director of the Spanish Federation's medical services and Nadal's own personal doctor, dealt with the stumbling block the Balearic player has come up against at the outset of the 2018 season. The umpteenth difficulty he has had to overcome in a career marked by a constant: the will to advance despite the blows.

What happened is well known: five weeks after having to pull out of the Australian Open quarterfinals with an injury to the psoas-iliac muscle in his right leg, the Mallorcan experienced sharp muscular pain in the same area of the (hip) joint during practice in Acapulco. Consequently, he was forced to withdraw from the Mexican tournament and also, making this first half of the season stoppage yet longer, to pull out of the Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami, the two big hardcourt tournaments before the start of the claycourt season.

Nadal's exercises

So, Nadal is now living in the shadows, in that enforced exile he has always mastered like nobody else. Kept off court because he cannot force his legs, Rafa carries out his daily routine with clockwork discipline: treatment to the affected area, exercises where the right leg is not involved and muscle maintenance on his shoulders and upper trunk. Taking care of the aerobic work and maintaining his physical condition are a priority, fundamental to having a good base when his body is ready to return to the tennis court.

"He's a very strong guy," assures Cotorro, used to being a frontline witness to Nadal's physical wear and tear when nobody's looking: playing without competing, that great challenge for the mind. If we are what we do when nobody is observing us, few people know the essence of Nadal like Ángel. "He's used to experiences like this. Many things have happened to him during his career, too many situations where he has needed to endure in order to pick himself up again. But he'll be back. And he'll come back strong," the doctor warned.

"An exceptional patient"

"He's a fighter, someone who has always grown in stature when faced with adversity. And he's an exceptional patient. Like any athlete, he's disappointed at first. But, unlike many, he doesn't stay frustrated for long. He's soon positive, he becomes animated and looks for solutions," disclosed Cotorro, whom Rafa actively consults on the progress of the processes. "He is immediately at the ready to improve the situation. After a blow like this it's logical to be down for a period, but it's characteristic of Rafa to assimilate it immediately."

With his original calendar modified, he's now looking to the claycourt swing, where Nadal swept the boards in 2017 (24 match wins and 1 loss), and which should begin for him on 14 April in Monte Carlo. "Everything is right on track. We'll have weekly check-ups and decide when to up the training load," explained Cotorro. "It's not exactly the same injury, because there's a a small anatomical variant, but it's in the same area. This makes us intensify our precaution. It's also a muscle injury with no tendons affected, and that's pretty positive."

A professional off the court

With the mission of getting to the claycourt season in the best physical condition possible, one of the great changes in Nadal's current era comes into play: a more active involvement in all levels of preparation and details oriented towards optimising the performance from a body that is feeling the years. "Rafa has been doing different things for a couple of years," explained Cotorro. "He's now controlling many details he was able to tackle in a different way in his youth. For example, he's very disciplined when it comes to his preparation and his diet. He also takes the trouble to find out how he should train, how he has to adjust his practices while he's competing. Little details make a difference when you reach a certain age. We've always done this but even more so in recent years."It's one of the goals he's fulfilling. They are small details that make the difference and that are very important when you have reached 30 years of age."

"Last year's results are there to see. Injury is part of sport. You can try to prevent it, but things don't always turn out the way you want. Rafa has always had this very clear," he explained about the Balearic player, whose enthusiasm remains firmly intact. "Last year Rafa played 18 tournaments, a number absolutely necessary for being No. 1. If you play fewer, you can't be that. Rafa always wants to give his best and in his thirties he maintains this discipline so as to be at the very top. He is increasingly controlling when he competes more."

The strength of the team around him

An individual sport that you compete in with a team behind you is a maxim that has always been there in Nadal's scheme of things. He is one of the few tennis figures who has maintained his backing team united and unchanged throughout his whole career. Solid props that multiply their importance in periods of difficulty.

"This is not an easy time because it was a surprise," admitted Cotorro. "But you have to accept things and take adequate measures so that everything works. I see Rafa on the positive track to get into the swing of it, to know what he has to do. He bothers about knowing the plan to follow and he has a very good group around him to support him," the doctor declared, naming one by one every member of his team.

"It's always a priority for Rafa to take care of his team and to feel well surrounded at moments like this. He's accompanied by trustworthy people he's known all his life. When an athlete is in a situation like this, it's very important for him to feel protected. Rafa has always known how to value the human aspect and in difficult times he finds a very positive response from his team," he added. "He's never been alone. He's someone who's always given great importance to maintaining a nucleus, and that's always positive. This is an essential mainstay for somebody who's mad keen on competition, who does what he's enthusiastic about surrounded by so much tension and who assumes the responsibility of having to win every day."