Nadal opts out of 2012 Davis Cup
Originally published on: 05/12/11 11:17
The past year has been nothing if not grueling for Rafael Nadal. The Mallorcan spent much of the 2011 season in the shadows of Novak Djokovic – a second fiddle role to which he is hardly accustomed – and his six straight final defeats to the Serb were made all the more remarkable by the fact that two came in Madrid and Rome; on clay.
This weekend though, any doubts about the 25-year-old’s passion or wavering ability were abruptly quashed. He stood up when it mattered and reaffirmed his position as the king of clay, pummeling close friend and occasional playstation partner Juan Monaco 6-1 6-1 6-2 to get the home side off to a roaring start before clinching, for the first time in his career, the decisive rubber that won Spain a fifth Davis Cup title following a fighting victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
The perfect end to the season was never really in doubt for the fiercely patriotic world No.2, who had not lost a Davis Cup singles rubber since his debut in 2004.
But the left-hander has clocked up 82 matches this year and with the goal of a second Olympic gold lying in wait so soon after Wimbledon 2012, something has to give. For Nadal, it will be the Davis Cup.
“Next year I will not play,” admitted the Spaniard. “Next year is a very complex year. It’s an Olympic year. I’m one of the players that plays the highest number of games in the year, and I don’t want to overplay. I don’t want to have an incoherent calendar.
“Next year, since it’s an Olympic year, my participation in the Davis Cup is impossible. Then we will think about the future.”
Spanish tennis is currently enjoying a golden era with eight players ending the season ranked inside the top 50 and 13 inside the top 100, but Albert Costa’s Davis Cup team may have to do without several of their stars next year as the likes of David Ferrer, too, target the London Olympics.
“We all want to play at the Olympic games,” admitted Ferrer. “The Olympic Games is a very important rendezvous. It happens once every four years.
“I’m talking on my own behalf, but knowing everybody, I think we all want to be there.”
What that means for Spain’s challenge for a sixth Davis Cup crown next year is anybody’s guess but, while it cannot be welcome news for the competition itself, the defending champions have strength in depth that should serve them well next year.
“Thank God Spain has a good level of players,” reasoned Nadal. “There are many good players that will replace us that play really high-level tennis.”