To accompany the “fittest dude” declaration, Men’s Fitness has posted an interview with Rafa. Some excerpts:
Your 2008 Wimbledon final has been called the Greatest Match of All Time. Obviously your conditioning is vital to winning most matches, but how important was your conditioning in this particular match, especially in the areas of mental toughness and confidence?
I felt great at Wimbledon last year. Both physically, mentally and happy with the way I was playing. I didn’t know if I could be able to win it but I did know I was feeling great and that I could be ready for everything.
Now that you’ve had time to reflect on it, what is your biggest memory of that tournament?
I have a lot of memories. Especially on the match points and the rain delay.
Yeah, I’d think those would stick in one’s brain!
What is a your weekly workout regimen when you’re not playing in a tournament?
It all depends at what period of the season we are talking about. If we are in the pre-season, the gym work is higher. During the season I don’t do much, I prefer to play tennis.
What about during tournament weeks?
Here I do more aerobic types of fitness and clearly play much more tennis on the court.
How about your flexibility routine?
This is very important. This I do everyday. I have my own Physio and he stretches me everyday. This is crucial.
Can we get some video of that, please? Pretty please? With chocolate cookies on top?
Why do you think your arms get so much attention?
This is funny, if you look at many other players they are probably fitter than me. The difference probably is that I was playing sleeveless. Now that I carry shirts with sleeves it doesn’t look that different. And also my left arm is much more developed than my right arm. This is because I play lefty and that’s sort of my gym, the tennis court. That’s where I have fun.
And you know, when not pumped from playing, his arm doesn’t look that huge. I’m not saying it’s not nice, just not as huge as people like to make it out to be.
When you flex your arms after a big shot, do you know that it can intimidate your opponent?
I don’t think so. I think that at our level guys don’t get impressed with these things. It is more the running, the speed and the shots that really we pay attention to.
Which is why I’ve never understood it when people say that him in sleeves takes away from the intimidation factor.
Such a big part of tennis is the ability to recover quickly after a match. What are some of your secrets to recovery?
The stretching is very important and to have good conditioning does help a lot. Clearly getting the right rest is also important. Sometimes it is too short of a time and I really can’t recover fast enough. But that happens to all of us.
Hello, Madrid final?
Are you concerned that your all-out style of play could limit your longevity in the sport?
For the past couple of years I’ve tried to improve my game, to play more inside the court and limit the amount of kilometers that I run. I think I have been playing much shorter matches in general with the exception of those in Melbourne or even in Madrid. This is important and I think I’m learning and getting better.
Always something to improve on, no?
We read that during Wimbledon you went grocery shopping and actually cooked your own food. How often do you cook at home?
Only those 2 weeks of the year. I have fun doing that, I like to eat that funny pasta we cook in Wimbledon. I really see that as part of my distraction there, especially in the past years with the rain making it a bit long.
Funny pasta? I wonder what’s funny about it? Does it make him snort-laugh?
What’s your specialty in the kitchen?
Pasta with shrimp and mushrooms. I’m also good at making cakes.
I’ll take a Rafa-cake, please.
How strict is your diet? Do you not eat certain foods?
It depends if I am playing the day after or not. I am not that careful in general but those days I am. I try not to eat meat or heavy things. But I do sometimes eat a lot of chocolate and things like that. Clearly I also burn a lot of calories!
He eats chocolate? Shocking!