Tennis-Tired words express depth of Nadal's exhaustion
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Tennis-Tired words express depth of Nadal's exhaustion

Indefatigable might be one adjective Rafa Nadal has yet to discover during his lessons to expand his English vocabulary. But the world number one has been practising hard his use of another one -- 'tired'.

sports Updated: Oct 15, 2010 13:10 IST

Indefatigable might be one adjective Rafa Nadal has yet to discover during his lessons to expand his English vocabulary. But the world number one has been practising hard his use of another one -- 'tired'.

The Spaniard used the T word 15 times to describe his sagging fitness and the draining tour schedule during news conferences at the Shanghai Masters.
His body language during much of his 6-1 3-6 6-3 surprising third round loss to 13th seed Austrian Jurgen Melzer on Thursday said it all, too.

Forty-eight hours after once more advocating a radical change to the rigorous season, the weary 24-year-old hit the wall during the autumn Asian swing in wretched fashion and suffered only his ninth defeat of the season.

The stunned gasps of the crowd echoed loud and clear down the Qi Zhong stadium's cavernous white corridors to the ATP suite, where organisers cocked once more an ear to the polite complaints from arguably the sport's greatest player of the modern era.

"Everybody knows my position in the players' council and on the ATP board," said the re-elected Players' Council representative.

"Everybody knows what I said a few days ago and it was nothing new," he added, as reporters easily connected the dots between his timely call for change and his now obvious fatigue.


On Tuesday, he gave his longest analysis and consultation on how the gruelling season should be cut to allow the top seeds to avoid injury and burnout without sacrificing points.

Such a change would allow young ambitious players to tour until their hearts and bank accounts were content, he said.

His preferred solution to please the players, fans, tour organisers and sponsors, is to allow top ranked players to stop playing after the high-scoring Masters calendar and forgo the low-scoring international tournaments.

The timing of his shock exit and public radicalism this week are poignant.

With the showcase ATP World Tours Finals looming next month, concerns are mounting the field of qualifying eight leading players -- Nadal, Murray and Djokovic among them -- might not glow and promote the sport as they should after their exhaustive calendar obligations. That said, thoroughbred workhorse Nadal has enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in tennis.

He arrived in Shanghai as the top seed and with a kit bag bursting at the seams and rattling with 2010 titles, having won Wimbledon and the U.S. and French Opens plus a string of Masters and other titles over a blistering 10 months. But he also admitted this week his winning of four Grand Slams in a single season is beyond him.

His frankness had frowning reporters scratching pencils on their temples, wondering if he was also implying such a feat in the busy modern game is impossible for any man.


The benevolent champion said he was seeking change for the younger generation, ruling out any shake up during his career, even though the current calendar could come up for review in 2013.
Officials planning a difficult sit down at the forthcoming ATP board meetings have signalled their intent to come up with a please-all makeshift plan for change.

"I just think allowing us to play and not play when we want is the better solution for all the players, not only for the top 10.

"It's also much better for the lower ranked players. That's what I said the other day. [But] that's just dreaming," he said with a wry smile after his disappointing Shanghai dismissal.

Nadal was playing his third successive week of competitive tennis in Asia with earlier tournaments in Bangkok and Tokyo, securing the latter Japan Open title.

Some might query his judgment to overstretch his commitments, however, especially the disappointed Chinese fans brimming with Nadal adulation in the ATP's primary pioneering market.

He was not under obligation to play the Thai and Japanese events.

But the generous appearance fees obviously triumphed over the need to pencil in some much needed rest and relaxation, a break where he could have perhaps lounged by a pool side and flicked through his English dictionary and end of year diary.

After all, he used the words "recover" and "rest" just once in public all week.

First Published: Oct 15, 2010 13:06 IST