James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.
By James Crabtree
MELBOURNE — Absence makes the heart grow fonder and in the case of the missing Rafael Nadal at the 2013 Australian Open, never has this been more apparent.
We miss the tenacity, ripping lasso forehand and underpants adjustment. We miss his various on court rituals, the tucking of his hair behind his headband, the wipe of his nose before he serves and water bottle realignment. We even, dare I say, miss his unique contribution to press conferences, no?
And we are constantly reminded of his absence by the posters and adverts that promised his presence.
Even Novak Djokovic misses his rival stating the nonattendance as “definitely a loss for the tournament, for tennis, for sport in general not to have Rafa playing still on the court. It’s been, what, seven months since he’s played his last official match?”
With Rafa away Novak will avoid a repeat of his gruelling six hour marathon from one year ago and Roger Federer will dodge a player he has not beaten in a grand slam since Wimbledon 2007. Scan through the draw and his nonattendance makes for a watered down field.
Indeed the situation for the current world number one, two and three is much improved with all, perhaps secretly, exhaling a sigh of relief at a later stage meeting now evaded.
Roger Federer was quick to state, “Obviously with Rafa not in the draw, that might mean for some of the players they only have to beat one of us, of the top three, maybe none. Who knows what the draw is going to do to us.”
For the fans and Rafa devotees the year’s first grand slam feels half full, and many shall look to capitalise with his absence.
Tour ferret and fourth seed David Ferrer completed his Davis Cup teammate, “Rafael, no, is very important for us. Is a good friend for me. He’s recovering soon, no?” Ferrer informed Tennis Grandstand further that we will see Rafa soon, “I talked two weeks ago when he had a virus. But when I finish this tournament, of course I will talk with him. And I know good news because he’s going to be soon, no, in Chile and Brazil. The only problem is we are missing him now.”
Come back soon Rafa, the game just isn’t the same without you.