Like everyone else at Melbourne Park, we here at the AO website have missed Rafa Nadal these past two weeks.
The former champion was all set to come to Australia, via the Middle East, until he was laid low by a stomach virus over Christmas. That forced him to pull out of the events in Abu Dhabi and Qatar and left him with no competitive matchplay before the Australian Open began. As a result, he knew he would be underprepared and so, sadly, took the decision to pull out of the competition.
However, we have been fortunate enough to catch up with Rafa’s knees and, in an exclusive AO website interview, they reveal exactly what they have been doing since Rafa’s last match.
AO website: Good morning gentlemen.
Rodilla izquierda: Buenos días.
Rodilla derecha: Buenos días.
AO website: First of all, we had better sort out who is who. Would you like to introduce yourselves?
Rodilla izquierda: I am the left knee, no?
Rodilla derecha: And I am the right, no? Please excuse our English; it was not our best subject at school.
Rodilla izquierda: And we are not used to giving interviews, not even in Spanish.
AO website: We will make this as painless as possible. So, how are you?
Rodilla derecha: I am very well, thank you.
Rodilla izquierda: And I am much, much better.
AO website: What have you been doing since we last saw you?
Rodilla izquierda: Rehab, rehab, rehab. It has been a long process; long and boring. One step forward and two steps back for month after month. A bit like the England football team, ha ha!
Rodilla derecha: Oh, he loves his football, does Izquierda.
Rodilla izquierda: But we are used to this, no? We are experienced in the ways of the doctors. We must listen to them and do what they say. And Rafa is a patient man; he takes everything in his stride.
Rodilla derecha: Well, he would if you didn’t keep packing up on him. It’s always the same with you: I do all the work and you get all the attention. This supposed to be a team effort, you know.
Rodilla izquierda: Please excuse Derecha. He took the stomach bug very badly. He was all packed and ready to go – you should have seen him with his little hat, his sun block and his thongs all lined up in his suitcase – and then Rafa felt Sid and Dick and all of us had to stay at home.
Rodilla derecha: ¿Qué es Sid y Dick
Rodilla izquierda: It is Cockingney rhyming slang: Sid and Dick means sick. I learned that at Wimbledon.
Rodilla derecha: You never did! There are no Cockingnies at Wimbledon. They don’t allow them in. And the word is Cockney; Cockney rhyming slang.
Rodilla izquierda: Anyway, we have tried to face every problem with calm, no? But even we, who have been through this before, have been tested. Oh, sure, we argue sometimes but we are family and we know it does not mean anything. But when Hoffa’s Pad muscled in on the act, it was very difficult. Like someone once said, suddenly there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.
AO website: Quite. But what have you missed most since you have been away?
Rodilla derecha: That’s easy: we miss Andy Murray’s knees. Particularly his right one. His rodilla derecha.
AO website: You miss Murray’s knees?
Rodilla derecha: Sí.
AO website: What do you talk about when you are hanging out with his knees, then?
Rodilla derecha: We talk shop.
AO website: So you talk about tennis?
Rodilla derecha: No, we talk about knees.
AO website: Knees?
Rodilla derecha: Sí. We have... how do you say: una afinidad?
Rodilla izquierda: An affinity
Rodilla derecha: We have an affinity with Andy’s knees, no? He has... wait, I’ve practised this: a bipartite patella. Good, eh? I bet our English teacher, Señorita García, never thought I could get that right.
Rodilla izquierda: Do you mind getting on with the story?
Rodilla derecha: Sorry. Yes, Andy’s right kneecap is in two pieces. He was born that way. So he has to keep an eye on it.
Rodilla izquierda: He’s not only a tennis player, he is also a contortionist....
Rodilla derecha: Enough with the jokes already! So, we talk about knees and rehab and stuff. Or, “and whatnot” as Andy’s knee always says....
Rodilla izquierda: He is a lovely knee, is Andy’s right knee. Often misunderstood. He is very polite, very humble. We were so pleased when he won the US Open. We texted him right after the final. And he is always texting us to see how we are doing. We are looking forward to seeing him again soon.
AO website: Are there any other knees you keep in touch with or admire?
Rodilla derecha: You cannot help but admire Roger’s knees. All those years together yet never a cross word spoken. Remarkable. And Novak – his knees are so bendy.
Rodilla izquierda: Muy flexible.
AO website: So when will we see you on a tennis court again?
Rodilla derecha: We have been practising with Tommy Robredo in Barcelona and we think we are ready to come back in Chile next month.
Rodilla izquierda: After that it is Brazil and Mexico on clay and then Indian Wells on hard courts. But we think we are ready.
Rodilla derecha: If that is everything, we have to go for a swim now. It’s good for the joints, you know. We like swimming but we don’t like swimming in the sea when it is so deep that we can’t see the bottom. That’s why we don’t like diving.
Rodilla izquierda: Yeah: we’re scared of getting the bends. Knee bends. Geddit?
Rodilla derecha: Oh, you’re a funny man. And unfortunately, folks, he’ll be here all week. Adiós.