Rafael the king of clay or king of whinging??

Rafael Nadal has long been my favourite tennis player. I seem to have a thing for Spaniards. At first Juan Carlos Ferrero could do no wrong in my eyes. He could even be playing against an Aussie and I would throw patriotism out the window but due to his seemingly debilitating list on injuries my interest has waned and Rafa has taken over.

I love most things about Rafa, even his undie-picking routine and his vast amount of time-wasting between points doesn’t bother me but one thing that is starting to annoy me is the amount of complaining Rafa has been doing.

It all started at the Australian Open when he retired against David Ferrer in the quarterfinals. Yes he was injured and yes he was disappointed to be injured but he did spend the majority of the 2 hour and 33 minute muttering to his players box and looking forlorn.

Rafael Nadal against David Ferrer at Australian Open (c) Getty Images

The complaining has only continued since the “King of Clay” returned to his spiritual home on the European red dirt.

After winning his record seventh straight Monte Carlo tournament Nadal has come out against the workload that the top players on tour need.

We would not have to play every week as we do now

Last time I checked no top level tennis player such as Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or those on the level lower play week in week out. They might play a couple of weeks in a row but throughout the year the most players play around 17 tournaments which equates to less than half a year. Nadal for instance throughout the last twelve months (which is what the current ranking system is based) has played 17 tournaments, Djokovic 17, Federer 19, world number 15 Viktor Troicki 26, world number 30 Florian Mayer 24 and world number 50 Xavier Malisse 26.

Playing back to back tournaments is also a rarity especially in the larger tournaments. Indian Wells and Miami are back to back tournaments in March though they are both held over two weeks. Madrid and Rome are back to back in May, and the Montreal/Toronto and Cincinnati tournaments follow each other but for the rest of the season tournaments can be spaced throughout the 11 month season.

Playing “every week” is not the only gripe that Nadal was with the ATP he also wanted the current rankings system to be expanded over two year not the one year that is currently used. Nadal says that this will enable players to

have more relaxed lives and longer careers

as players wouldn’t have the pressure to defend points accrued in the last year. However I don’t think this will have any impact as players already chose what tournaments they play every year and rarely change tournaments that they play from year to year. This issue has also been raised as Nadal is facing a challenge from Novak Djokovic for his number one spot. After dominating last season including winning three grand slams and being undefeated throughout the European clay court season he has a lot of points to defend. I think the system is currently a simple way to recognise who is the best player throughout the season and is easy to understand unlike other rankings including the golf system.

Hopefully the powers that be leave the season and the ranking system as they are and Nadal goes back to playing good tennis on the court rather than talk bad tennis of it.


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