Rafael Nadal is recognized as the ultimate gladiator. For him to wake up this morning and conclude that his body would not cooperate with his wish to combat Andy Murray in the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open must have been devastating.
Unfortunately, the world number two had to disappoint his legion of fans as a niggling left knee problem forced him to cease from taking court.
In facing the media, Nadal explained “since the beginning of the tournament, I have [had] problems. . . The thing is growing worse every day. After the last match, I saw that the situation was going to be complicated to play today. But, as always, I believe that things can improve”.
Nadal went on to say “I am not ready to compete today. I am very sorry for the fans, for the tournament, for everybody. . .on television”.
The Spaniard has been plagued with knee issues for quite a while. He is unsure the exact nature of this problem but surmised “I have to go to the doctor. . .but it looks like nothing different from what happened a few times in the past”.
Ironically, at the Australian Open in 2010, Nadal retired against Murray due a right knee problem. Consequently, Nadal, a three time finalist in Miami will have to postpone his dream of hoisting the Sony Ericsson trophy at least another year.
For Murray this represents his second walkover at this event. Milos Raonic pulled out of their third round match due to an ankle injury.
Murray also answered a few questions about the Nadal situation. Murray, the 2009 champion, will play either Novak Djokovic or Juan Monaco. That match will be in the evening.
Here are the full transcripts of the Nadal and Murray interviews.
Q. Perhaps you could just take us through the situation you’re faced with. We assume it’s your knee. Could you tell us the story of the last couple of days?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I started the ‑‑ since the beginning of the tournament I have problems, but the real thing is growing worse every day. So after the last match, I saw that the situation were going to be complicated to play today. But, as always, I always believe that the things can improve. So I waited until today in the morning. I did a lot of treatment yesterday, waiting, that we can recover a little bit for today. But I am not ready to compete today. I am very sorry for the fans. I’m very sorry for the tournament. I’m very sorry for everybody who were ready to watch the match on the television, for television, for everybody. But I don’t have pleasure. I cannot do it another thing. I am not ready to compete, and I cannot go on court and lie to everybody. That’s the thing today.
Q. Can you describe the problem exactly for us? Do you know what it is precisely?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have problems on the left knee. I cannot ‑‑ I have to go to doctor, but looks like is nothing really, really different that happen a few times in the past. Just go to the doctor hopefully tomorrow, and hopefully in a few days, with a few days off and with the right treatment, I will be in the right conditions to start to practice on the clay.
Q. Because obviously you want to protect as best you can for the clay court season coming up? You say just going out there and running around on the hard court is not going to do you any good in the long run?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, but not. Yes, I want to arrive to the clay court with the right conditions, but I want to arrive here with the right conditions. That’s why I rest all February. So I am not thinking ‑‑ I am not going on court today not because I have the clay court season. I am not going on court today because I cannot go on court today. No, no. Nothing about clay court season. Clay court season is there in two weeks, but this tournament is very important for me, and I feel very sad to have to go out before a beautiful match for me, semifinals against Andy.
Q. What is your clay court schedule? What are the chances that that may change now?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing change. Even if it’s sad to finish these two tournaments like this, playing two semifinals is a good result for me. First three tournaments of the year I played final and two semifinals in very difficult tournaments, so that’s the positive thing that stays on my mind, playing good tennis. It’s true the last day I did not play good tennis, but my knee is not ready to play good tennis. So in general, I am very happy almost about everything. My schedule gonna be the same. Monte‑Carlo, Barcelona, first two tournaments.
Q. How worrying is it to have the same thing happen again with your knee when you thought it was fixed?
RAFAEL NADAL: Less than if I have a new thing, because something that happened in the past, I know what to do to get better quick, and that’s what we’re gonna try.
Q. So where are you going now? Where are you going from here? Are you going back to Mallorca?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know yet. I gonna ‑‑ I have to check a few things. I want to go to visit the doctor, and I don’t know if I will be able to do it ‑‑ I will try to do it as fast as possible, to try to come back on court as quick as possible, too.
Q. Did you have any problems coming out of your training in February? When you went to Indian Wells, everything was good?
RAFAEL NADAL: I start to feel a little bit in Mallorca. But, no, everybody has ‑‑ almost everybody has pain when you are playing in this high level of competition, no? The true is in Indian Wells I had ‑‑ I start to have problems on the knee before Indian Wells, and Indian Wells I have my problems on the knee. But that problem, no, are not limiting me to play at 100%.
So I played in Indian Wells with the normal conditions, playing in good shape physically and everything. Here is different.
Q. Is it described as tendinitis or something else?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. But seriously the tendons are much better today than three years ago. The treatments worked fantastic. Even if today a really bad knee and last couple of days were tough for me, but positive thing the tendon improve a lot the last couple of years. I am more health with both tendons than now. So the treatments are working well. In 2009 I really compete but compete in very bad conditions a lot of times. For the last couple of years, 2010, 2011, I was able to compete with perfect conditions for almost all the year. So that’s always fantastic when that’s happening. This year I started well with no problems. Today is bad news, but that’s the sport. We cannot expect playing as much as we play, be perfect every day of our life. Today is my turn. Everybody have problems, and I will be working hard to be back quick on court and to play my best in Monte‑Carlo.
Q. You always play with a lot of injuries. Are you more cautious now? Because you always play with ‑‑ I remember US Open when you have the other thing. Are you more cautious now?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I always try my best. But today I feel that I am not ready to compete, no? I always start hard. I tried in the US Open like the example in 2009, but I have big broke of the abdominal at the end of the US Open. Then after US Open I had to stop for one month and a half with no competition. So I cannot repeat mistakes from the past, but that doesn’t mean that I am more afraid about playing with pains or not. I try my best in every moment with pain, without pain, but when I see the situation is done and I cannot, I cannot. That’s it.
Q. Is it fair to say this is one of the stranger weeks of your tennis career, two walkovers?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, to be honest, it hasn’t really happened to me that often where even one guy has done that. Actually, like last week, couple weeks ago, I was trying to remember like when it happened, and I remember Tursunov in Shanghai, and then before that I couldn’t really remember when it happened before that. So, yeah. I mean, to get two in one week is strange. That doesn’t happen often really at all. Yeah, strange.
Q. Will you have any anxiety about not having had enough court time going into the final?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I don’t know. You don’t really know the answer to that. You never know how you’re gonna play on the day. Obviously, you know, you don’t play a match for three or four days, it’s different than if you played one, you know, one or two days ago. But then the positives are that you’re going to be fresh and physically feeling fine. So who knows. Wait and see on the day. It’s never happened to me before. So I don’t really know how I’m gonna feel for the final, but I’ll definitely be fresh.
Q. Can you actually recall going on court, preparing to play a left‑hander, and suddenly find yourself half an hour later playing someone who’s right‑handed preparing for another match?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it is. I mean, like you say, it’s never really happened to me like that before. Obviously I guess the one benefit here is that there is a day in between, so I’ll have tomorrow to practice with righties. The last of couple days I have been hitting with lefties.
Practiced for like half an hour, 40 minutes with last Paes and Stepanek just to get used to playing righties again. I have done a lot of practicing, a lot of hitting balls this week, not a lot of match play. It’s been quite a strange week. Hopefully the final, whoever it is, is going to be fit and well and we can have a good match.
Q. I know there is a rivalry, but how much of you says, Hey, good, I’ll take this?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, today not really. I mean, you know, every time you play against one of the top guys in the world, it’s always a good opportunity to see exactly where your game’s at. You know, I have been working with Ivan now for a couple of months. We worked on a lot of things to see, certain tactics and stuff and practice that would work against Rafa, Novak, and Roger. It would have been, I mean, for me, nice to see whether or not those things were working. Yeah. I mean, I guess when it happens, you’ve got to take it, but at the same time it’s always a good test to see pretty much exactly where your game’s at. Like after the Australian Open, it was good for me to play against Novak quite soon afterwards, after I had done the 10‑day training block of working on some things, and I obviously won against him but then lost against Roger. So some things that work well against Novak don’t work so well against Roger, and the things that work against Rafa don’t work against those two (smiling). So, yeah, it’s a good test, um, of the things you’ve been working on every time you play against them.
Q. Did you speak to Rafa today?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. He messaged me ‑‑ I actually didn’t see it. When I got told, I sat down and looked at my phone, and he messaged me to tell me that he wasn’t going to play. So I guess that was pretty much just as I started practicing, and then I saw him afterwards in the locker room, and, yeah, I spoke to him for a little bit.