I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but count me among those who suspect that things may not be what they appear in the formerly happy kingdom of the much-acclaimed King of Clay, Rafael Nadal. Like all palaces, this one seems to generate a fair amount of intrigue, even if nobody is about to leap out from behind a velvet curtain to plunge a dagger into the heart of Toni Nadal or Albert Costa.
The story, as we’ve been told, is that a stomach virus has knocked Rafa out through at least the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, which begins in mid-January. Nadal was to have launched his preparations for the Aussie about 10 days ago in Abu Dhabi, but the bug laid him low. Apparently, very, very, very low, even though Nadal’s own minions initially said that his doctors advised him only to take “a week-long period of rest.”