Wizards

Stomach bug knocks Nadal from Australian Open

201212281225447040465-p2.jpeg

Stomach bug knocks Nadal from Australian Open

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Just when Rafael Nadal had recovered from a knee injury, a stomach virus has delayed his return to tennis by a couple of months.

Nadal announced Friday he will miss next month's Australian Open and probably won't play again until the end of February. The Spaniard said he needs time to recover from the virus that already prevented him from coming back this week at Abu Dhabi.

Nadal has been sidelined since June with a knee injury, which forced him to miss the London Olympics and U.S. Open. He had planned to rejoin the ATP tour at the Qatar Open in Doha next month before the Jan. 14-27 Australian Open, but pulled out of both.

``We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible,'' Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said. ``Tennis fans across the world have been missing him.''

While he is expected to recover from the virus in time for the year's first Grand Slam tournament, Nadal and his team said he wouldn't have the proper preparation for a five-set event.

Nadal stressed that his decision had nothing to do with the tendinitis in his left knee. That injury prompted him to take a break following a second-round loss to then 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.

``My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,'' Nadal said in a statement from his hometown of Manacor on the island of Mallorca. ``But this virus didn't allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.''

The former No. 1 hopes to return at a tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, starting Feb. 27. He left open the possibility of playing at an earlier tournament if his recovery went well.

``As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks,'' Nadal said. ``I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play and after all this time away from the courts I'd rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well.''

Nadal's doctor, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, said in the same statement that the player needed at least a week to recover from the virus. That ruled him out for the Qatar Open, which starts Jan. 2.

Nadal's coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, said going straight to a five-set tournament after being sidelined so long was ``not appropriate.''

``It is simply not conceivable that his first event is a best-of-five sets event,'' he said in a statement. ``He wouldn't be ready for that.''

Nadal's knee injury prevented the 11-time Grand Slam winner from defending his Olympic singles gold medal at last summer's games, where he was supposed to be Spain's flag-bearer in the opening ceremony. He also had to pull out of the U.S. Open and Spain's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic, which his teammates lost without him.

Nadal, ranked No. 4, won the Australian Open in 2009. Last year, he lost to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a title match that lasted 5 hours, 53 minutes, the longest recorded Grand Slam final.

Quick Links

With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

otto_shooting.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

Quick Links

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: