Waiting for Rafa

(I can’t find this article on the vogue site to link to, so I’m putting the whole thing here. Just remember, if you want to see Rafa in more magazines, go buy the issue! This is from the June USA Vogue with Cameron Diaz on the cover. – miri)

Vogue

Vogue


By Gaby Wood
Photographed by Bruce Weber
After fighting his way to tennis’s number-one spot, Rafael Nadal is discovering in his own time that it can be lonely at the top.

“Vamos Rafa!” The crowd roars as a dashing floodlit figure serves an ace. It is round one of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, a tournament sometimes referred to as the fifth Grand Slam. After the player beats his opponent, he stops by the camera that has been broadcasting his actions in real time and signs the lens with a Sharpie. All that is left is his autograph, a grand flourish blown up on vast screens across the stadium.

The Spanish tennis sensation Rafael Nadal has been described as “swashbuckling” more often than Errol Flynn. You might think this is a mere national stereotype, but the 23-year-old Majorcan’s dynamic, unorthodox style, his combination of brutal efficiency and unearthly stamina, and the dastardly aim of his forehand have all led his matches to be described, even in Spain, as “duels.”

He is also, as might befit an old-world swordsman, gracious in victory. When he won the Australian Open final against Roger Federer in February, cementing his prowess on all three Grand Slam surfaces (not to mention his status as the number-one player in the world), he stood by uncomfortably as Federer wept at the microphone. After Nadal put his arm around the Swiss champion’s shoulder and Federer returned to the mike, emboldened, to congratulate him, Nadal apologized for winning and called Federer one of the best players in history.

So it is with great curiosity that I go down to Miami to meet Rafa, as he is affectionately known. I am intrigued to see who is behind the animal on the court and the young gentleman on the podium.

My first close-up glimpse of him comes at a press conference after that first match, in which he neatly dispatches Teimuraz Gabashvili, 6-2, 6-2. As expected, Nadal is sweet and rather awkward, answering questions modestly in English and Spanish. He enjoys the support of Latinos here, he says. The only thing that’s tough about having so many fans, he explains, is that he can’t sign autographs for everyone, and he’d like to.

Then he’s asked if he prefers to play in the day or at night. This is met with a pure, straight-faced statement of the obvious: “I prefer to play well.”

Afterward, his ever-present publicist, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, introduces me to him in preparation for our interview. Nadal shakes my hand, pats me on the shoulder, and says, “Encantado.” He is relaxed, charming, and, at six foot one, taller than I expected. Little do I know that this is the last time I will speak to him for the next five days.

Courtly appeal (Photo by Bruce Weber)

Courtly appeal (Photo by Bruce Weber)

One of the reasons it’s hard to get close to Nadal, I soon discover, is that he is fiercely protected by his team, mostly made up of family members. His uncle and coach, the former profession tennis player Toni Nadal, rarely leaves his side; the same goes for his father, Sebastian; and then there is his uncle Miquel Angel Nadal, a famously aggressive soccer player who is still known as “the Best of Barcelona.” When they are together, they speak Mallorquin, a brash, fast, guttural language that is an obscure dialect of Catalan.

If the Williams sisters grew up playing on the gang-ridden tarmac of L.A., Nadal was groomed to be great on the earth of Majorca. (Although, there was a time when the Spanish newspaper El Mundo wondered rhetorically whether there might be a “Planet Nadal,” a place where “babies don’t play with dolls but rackets, muscle grows before bone, courage before speech.”)

When he was a little boy, his uncle Toni told his now-agent Carlos Costa, “I have a six-year-old nephew who’s going to be a very good player.” It was six years before Costa finally saw Nadal play. “He was twelve, and the qualities you saw in him then were strength of character, tenacity; he was a winner and a fighter. And in his head, there was a real desire to be number one.” Cost took him on when Nadal turned fifteen.

Since then Nadal has racked up so many records, it’s almost hard to keep count. Long acknowledged as the “kind of Clay,” he posses the longest single-surface winning streak in the Open era. (His lock on the French Open recently prompted Roger Federer to say, “I don’t think the clay has been my problem. My problem has been Rafa con clay.”) Since winning their history-making five-set Wimbledon match last year, Nadal has seem nearly untouchable. And in February, he became the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open, prompting speculation that he will win four Grand Slams in a single year, a feat not accomplished since Rod Laver did it in 1969. As Costa says, “Every year he wants more. Every year he trains more. He doesn’t impose limits on himself. If you look at the Rafa of three years ago and Rafa as he is now, there’s been a huge evolution in his tennis.”

Part of Nadal’s resolve seems to stem from the rigor of his training. Even though he is naturally right-handed, he was taught early on to play with his left hand, a technique that has tormented many of his opponents. Toni Nadal denies that there was anything tactical in this: “He always played with both hands. The only thing I encouraged was to play with one hand, and he had more strength in his left.”

Nadal can play so strongly at times that one is tempted to think of him as a force of nature – in Australian, when other players were dropping out because of the heat; in Indian Well, California, when the wind made the final almost unsustainable. Recently, a tennis researcher in San Francisco used video-capture technology to measure Nadal’s topspin: It was found to rotate at an average of 3,200 times a minute (Federer’s rotates 2,700 times, and Agassi’s 1,900) – a feat that seems superhuman. “When he was young, I always made him play with bad balls,” Toni Nadal explains. “The court wasn’t always in great condition – all of that, even playing badly, helps you develop. Rafael called me before the final in Indian Wells. I said, ‘How’s it going?’ He said, ‘Terrible.’ Because of the wind. I said, ‘Well, all the better for you, no?’ Because Rafa is used to playing when things aren’t going well.” (Sometimes it seems like Nadal pushes himself – or is pushed – too hard. Fans have expressed concern that he is risking injury, although he and his team deny this.)

Along with the tough training came tough love. “In terms of shots, he’s not a phenomenon, but he’s not completely useless, either,” Toni Nadal says. “If he had Federer’s gifts, I might have chosen a different style, but I like this intense strong style he has.”

Toni points out that his nephew was raised to put up with things. “If when you’re young, you’re permitted to do anything, then when you’re older you can cause all kinds of damage. If, on the other hand, when you’re small you’re never allowed so much as throw a racquet on the ground, then it’s much easier to tolerate things. Rafael has always been a very disciplined player. Sometimes, if he feels like doing one thing but knows that another is the right thing to do, he can take it.”

Before I can think about what’s coming out of my mouth, I say, “God. Poor him.” Toni seems amused. “Not at all,” he replies. “He’s won a few times, you know.”

This pose looks natural, right? (Photo by Bruce Weber)

This pose looks natural, right? (Photo by Bruce Weber)

The next morning, I’m supposed to meet Nadal for our interview, but Benito puts me off. At lunchtime, I go to watch Nadal play Frederico Gil, who at number 70, is the highest ranked Portuguese player in history. (“It’s a very small country,” is Gil’s routine response to this statistic.)

Rafa starts slow; he makes a surprising number of unforced errors; during breaks, his left knee jobs uncontrollably. There is a beautiful rally, at the end of which Gil puts a ball straight past him. The next time Rafa gets ready to serve, he’s given a time violation. He’s taking too long, thinking too much – it’s excruciating.

You would think that an early-round match for the world’s number-one tennis player would be plain sailing, but watching Nadal, you feel the risk in every point. He plays as if he is fighting for his life. “He gives 100 percent in every match, from the first round right up to the last,” Costa says. “Others are relaxed at first, and tension kicks in later, whereas Rafa plays tensely from day one.”

Nadal pulls out a victory, but it doesn’t come easily, 7-5, 6-3. In the press box, old-hand tennis reporters are muttering, “Oh, yeah, he’s burned.”

Afterward I watch Rafa hanging around outside the locker room in a black T-shirt and khaki-colored tennis shorts, his just showered hair falling in his face, his full frame a little hunched, like a teenager’s. A very small blonde person in a Panama hat and shades comes through the corridor to great him, accompanied by a film crew. She turns out to be Shakira, a friend and fan. They pose for photos, but as soon as the rock star leaves, Rafa returns to his sulky posture. It is as if he can already envision the lead story from The Miami Herald: “Sometimes the best player in the world doesn’t look like the best player in the world.”

The following day, Benito calls. He’s embarrassed. Rafa played badly and is not feeling up to meeting today. He promises it will happen first thing the next morning.

Instead I make my way over to the practice court. Rafa is shirtless, sweat streaming down his front, the deep thwacking sound of his inhuman forehand filling everyone’s ears. When he leaves the court, I’m behind him, which means that for once I get his view of the crowd. They gather wildly in his face; he dips his chin and plows through like a gentle bull, signing and walking, signing and walking, passing the results of his ambulatory autographs over his shoulder – a hat, a ball, a picture – without a backward glance. Behind him, the recipients fall into chaos, screaming. It occurs to me that whether shielded by his entourage or lost in the crowd, Nadal is always in his own world, just out of reach.

That night, Rafa has a late, long match against Stanislas Wawrinka (“the other Swiss”), and again the buzz is about how off his game is. He wins, of course, but that appears to be beside the point. By now I realize that he’s not just putting me off on a whim. He literally can’t take his eye off the ball. In a way, his refusal to meet says far more about how he feels than he will probably ever reveal in words.

Golden (Photo by Bruce Weber)

Golden (Photo by Bruce Weber)

It’s my fifth day in Miami, am I am supposed to finally meet Nadal at midday. Just before lunchtime, Benito calls to reschedule. Rafa will meet me at four. I am skeptical. Benito, who is missing four fingers on his right hand, says the interview will definitely happen at four, or he will cut off the fingers on the other hand. How sweet, I think. Then I wonder how he lost his fingers in the first place.

But sure enough, just after 4:00 P.M., Benito and Carlos bring Rafa to me outside the players’ lounge. This time he makes no eye contact and offers no greeting. We walk upstairs, Nadal silent, eyes downcast. Benito and Carlos direct us to a couple of white leather sofas and leave. Nadal shoots me a small, shy smile, then gets distracted by the live match playing on a TV screen in front of us: Djokovic vs. Tsonga. He winces a little with the corners of his mouth (at what, I don’t know: I’ve missed the shot), then looks back at me – open, perhaps, to a question.

We talk about what he likes to do when he’s not on court. I learn that in his time off, Nadal goes home to Manacor, the town of 35,000 inhabitants where he still lives with his parents and younger sister – or to his family’s summerhouse, ten kilometers away in Porto Cristo. His friends are still the people he’s known since he was four of five. He goes fishing, he plays golf, he goes to the movies; he has a girlfriend, a student in Majorca whose privacy he guards diligently. (Though she sometimes comes to his matches, he explains, “Just because I’m known for tennis doesn’t mean I have to be known for anything else.”) While other players have their own jets, he flies commercial. He does not know how much money he has, and doesn’t appear to spend it. At home, he’s not known as the world number one; he’s known as “Rafalet.”

I ask him about his tics – arranging the water bottles in a particular order, not stepping on the lines when he walks out onto the court. They are not really superstitions, he says. They’re just part of his larger pre-match ritual. He’ll sleep between seven and nine hours, then have a plate of pasta for breakfast. If he’s eating three hours or more before a match, he’ll add some chicken or fish. Just beforehand, he always has a cold shower; then his physio, Rafael Maymo, helps him put on all his tape (at the moment his fingers are taped as well as his knees). After Nadal prepares the handles of his rackets, he listens to music on his iPod – everything from Julio Iglesias to Bon Jovi – and keeps to himself.

He won’t say what he’s trying to improve just now – during a tournament, you don’t really train to change things, he explains – although he confesses that he’d “like to serve like Karlovic, have Federer’s forehand at times, or Nalbandian’s backhand.”

I ask him if he is driven more by a desire to win or the fear of losing. “The desire to win,” he says. He always knows he can lose, even in the first round. “For example, tomorrow, I’m going out into a difficult match against del Potro, and I know that if I don’t play at my highest level I’m going to have practically no chance of winning.” (This turns out to be prescient: He ends up losing to Juan Martin del Potro the next day in a tense quarterfinal.)

Perhaps paradoxically, Nadal says that being number one has helped to relieve the pressure. “I think I’m enjoying the game much more now than I was two years ago. Not because I’m winning more but because I think I’ve taken on board the tension more.” Anyway, he adds, “I’m lucky enough to do what I like for work – not everyone’s that fortunate.”

Tennis players, of course, have a remarkably short professional shelf life. As invested as he is in the game, Nadal is already branching out, as the face of Lanvin’s new cologne L’Homme Sport and as a collaborator with Nike on a new line of clothes. He is also in the early stages of establishing a philanthropic foundation, whose stated purpose is to educate underprivileged children all over the world. “I’d like to help people who don’t have enough to live on,” he says, then adds, “I’d like to help everyone I can.”

At thirteen, Nadal had to choose between tennis and soccer (he was good at both). He says he doesn’t prefer one to the other, but there is something forlorn in his assertion that soccer is more enjoyable because you practice with friends. “In tennis, you’re always alone, which is more complicated. I far prefer to train with friends than alone,” he says. “Doesn’t everyone?”

In the time I speak to Nadal (in Spanish), he is as uncommunicative as his good upbringing will allow; he looks up when he thinks perhaps looking down or away is rude. Questions are met with expressions of very mild alarm – shrugs or a knitted brow. I have the impression that conversation is akin to confrontation for him, and that despite his zeal on the court, he doesn’t enjoy it.

I wonder aloud if he enjoys competing in others areas of his life.

“No!” he says, balking at the very thought. “Not at all! I’d rather lose an argument than get into a long discussion in order to win it.”

“Why?” I ask.

He laughs. “It tires me out.”

“But not in tennis?”

“No.”

Which leads me to ask about his most formidable, most formative rival. If Roger Federer were to stop playing, would Nada’s game suffer?

“No,” he replies. “The only thing that affects me is to have played important matches against him… He’s one of the greatest tennis players in history, if not the greatest. But the thing that makes you improve isn’t any individual – it’s the demands of the sport itself.”

I ask how he felt when he saw Federer crying in Australia. “Well, a bit odd, no? I didn’t really know what to do. I felt sad for him. Those are difficult moments when you’re living through them, but over the years they become moments that both he and I will be able to look back on fondly – they’re emotional moments.”

As for his own vulnerabilities, he admits, with an embarrassed chuckle, “Being home alone at night makes me a bit nervous. If I’m at home alone I have to sleep on the sofa – I can’t face going to bed. I’m there with the TV on and all the lights on. I’m not very brave about anything in life.” He smiles, looks down at the floor. “In tennis, yes. In everything else, not very.”

Watch exclusive video on the Bruce Weber photo shoot with Rafael Nadal at vogue.com. (Can anyone find this video on their site? I can’t find it there… maybe it’s not posted yet – miri)

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42 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Hot damn! Bruce Weber, I bow down to you!

  2. CC says:

    God dang, he’s handsome… The polo shirt and khaki trousers in that last pic is my idea of a well dressed man. Casually sexy Rafa.

    Interviews like these always leave me wishing for more. (I could read long books about this man.) It’s obvious that he wasn’t happy with his game in this tourney.

    I DO think it’s sweet that he is scared when he’s home alone at night. I am too, if I’m in my parents big house with neighbours not so near. But in a house with other apartments, Rafa…? (:

    • miri says:

      The whole idea is so foreign to me! I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 (back for a brief bit between freshman and sophomore years in college). I had roommates during college and a year after, but have lived on my own ever since. In fact, oh dear, I got my first apartment on my own the year Rafa was born. Crap, I’m old. Anyway…

      • CC says:

        Well…I’m from a fairly remote place in Sweden, tall dark trees and all that, and that can be…scary. But not scared in flats, when I know I have people around me.
        Poor little Rafa, eh?
        Didn’t he say once he used to go to his parents bedroom and sleep every night for long time. Or did I dream that?

        • miri says:

          The only time I was scared in a house was when I lived across the street from drug dealers in a crappy old house with broken windows. I couldn’t stuff enough cardboard in the windows to drown out the yelling and crap that went on across the street.

          • CC says:

            Yep, that would have made me scared as hell.

            I wonder when the USA Vogue will arrive in England, hopefully won’t take too long… Must. Buy.

            Anyway, thanks for typing that interview and posting the pics, Miri. It’s SO appreciated and makes my day!

            • miri says:

              You are welcome. The scans were a challenge because my scanner sucks! And It’s been a long time since I typed that much all in one sitting. I still have the Men’s Journal one…but it’s even longer. *sigh* Why don’t they have it on their site? *whine*

              Now, if YouTube would finish their maintenance so that I can post something and go to bed!

              • fuzzydunlop says:

                Miri ~ you typed out the whole article??! You’re so amazing! THANK YOU!

                I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed with the pics. The idea of Rafa & Bruce Weber in a photoshoot conjures up amazing possibilities (think Calvin Klein ads circa 1980s!). Perhaps Rafa now has a shirt-on clause since his (rather amazing) NY Mag spread which he’s since regretted?

                It’s so touching when he says he’s not brave about anything else in life. So strangely confessional …

  3. patzin says:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/181500-when-tennis-married-fashion-spotlight-on-rafael-nadal

    Don’t know if you have seen this article from Bleacher Report on Rafa and fashion. Quite nice.

    The above article is interesting. Wonder about the not liking being alone comment. I guess it’s not that unusual, when he is used to being surrounded by family and his team.

    Also I am reading- Rafael Nadal, A Biography by Tom Oldfield. About half way through – lots of detail about his career.

    • CC says:

      Thanks for the article, Patzin. Nice read. And gorgeous pics. I *flove* the one with Rafa in footie gear that was done for the Olympics. It’s got a feminine touch to it that I find very…intriguing, yet makes Rafa even more sexy. (I think it’s the socks and the hair.)

    • nic says:

      Thanks for pointing this one out patzin. Great write-up. And those pics of Rafa are priceless. The one that just kills me is Rafa with the hoodie pulled over his head and his eyes closed. Oh man, i could die looking at that one. And completely agree with the write-up, it’s Rafa’s youthful rugged charm meeting elegance and effortless style that I love, that’s the real him. And he looks awesome in all types of colour. Am really loving the daring pink. NO ONE else could pull that off on a tennis court.

  4. kefuoe says:

    Thanks for all the work it took to put this article up.

  5. johanne says:

    Dang, what a sexpot! I think the blazer-on-my-shoulders/finger-drawing-attention-to-my-smoochable-lips/look-into-my-smoldering-eyes pic is my fave. It literally makes me sweat. Although, he looks irresistible and deliciously dewy in the I’m-pissed-off-and-wearing-khakis-and-a-polo pic. Someone get a fan up in here!!

    • CC says:

      *lol*
      Yeah, I tried to put the “I’m-pissed-off-and-wearing-khakis-and-a-polo pic” as my desktop pic and as it was so big it has missed out Rafa’s face and only zoomed in on the “open-collar-oh-how-I-want-to-kiss-that-sweat-glistening-neck-and-touch-that-chest-hair-with-my
      -fingertips-before-taking-the-polo-top-off-him” part of the picture. It looks damn good, I must say. ;)

      • johanne says:

        HA! The same thing happened to me with the blazer/lips/eyes pic! It cut off his eyes – and I NEED the eyes, CC!

        As far as your “open-collar-oh-how-I-want-to-kiss-that-sweat-glistening-neck-and-touch-that-chest-hair-with-my-fingertips-before-taking-the-polo-top-off-him” description goes, well first of all, THANKS for that! And secondly, I’m off to take a cold shower…

        Thanks for all your hard work in posting all this, miri! I’ll def be picking up a copy of this one.

        • CC says:

          Yep, I’ve been doing ironing, it’s a sunny morning here in the UK AND I’ve been thinking about Rafa’s “smoochable-lips”, so I’m definitely off for shower now. ;)

  6. Cassie says:

    Thank you so much for the article.

  7. AnaR says:

    It is a great interview, Miri. I think the journalist has given a fairly accurate picture of Rafael and really he is a man hard on the tennis court but a sweet kid, very shy and with scare in life. A charm. And the best player of tennis. I do not understand how at times people has been able to say that he was haughty or arrogant or things like that just because he won all the matches and is aggressive on the court .. for a time, this was very unfair. Luckily, now no longer. Thanks for all.

  8. AnaR says:

    And one more thing .. in Spain it is normal for young people lived at home with parents until the thirty and more. I know that in another countries do not, but here it is very normal.

    • miri says:

      Yeah, it’s not the living at home thing that I can’t relate to, it’s the fear of being alone. I’m the exact opposite. It’s being around people that makes me nervous! It used to be a joke when I was a kid that sending me to my room alone wasn’t a punishment, it was a reward and that for punishment, they should make me go outside and play with neighbors. ;)

      • CC says:

        Hm… I’m the same as you, Miri. Like my own company the best. Although I love everyone’s “company” here!

  9. Kalliopeia says:

    “Benito, who is missing four fingers on his right hand, says the interview will definitely happen at four, or he will cut off the fingers on the other hand. How sweet, I think. Then I wonder how he lost his fingers in the first place.”

    This made me laugh and laugh. There are people who like to demonize Benito, but I’m going out on a limb and guessing Rafa isn’t the easiest person to work for. And I had no idea he was missing fingers on his hand!

  10. An says:

    I absolutly adore this man!!
    Can’t pick the pic i like most of those… Can i have them all to hang in the bedroom, as long as i don’t have Rafa there, please???

    Oh wait, that would mean a lot of sleeples nights. Ah what the h…

  11. Wooffie says:

    Miri,

    Thanks for drawing the article to my attention. Its fantastic and Rafa is do damn HOT!

    Attached is a link where the article has been scanned in, but you open up each page for a better view.

    Phwoar!!

    http://www.thefashionspot.com/forums/f50/rafael-nadal-70654-11.html

  12. June says:

    Thanks for all of your hard work Miri — it always pays off! Does anyone remember that song by ZZ Top — “Everygirl Crazy ’bout a Sharp-Dressed Man?” That about sums it up for me I think. This really gives away my age, now doesn’t it (I’m old too Miri, but preferred the term “seasoned.”) Anyway, probably living in the country alone might be scary for me. I’m a city person & have never lived alone. Our son is about the same age as RAFA & didn’t like staying in Chicago last summer by himself in an apartment there when he played soccer. He’s been at home too long (our son that is) & when he graduates college & gets a job will be on his own. Gosh, that’s scary to think about & yes, I’m old darn it . . . . Still have a 15-year old baby girl at home (for a few more years) playing tennis before going off to college.

    • dutchgirl says:

      Haha, I like the term ‘seasoned’ (yes, it does apply to me as well…). My own sons are 10 and almost 12, so they still live at home, but I can imagine them having the same anxieties that Rafa has. And I think it’s okay for people to admit they have them, rather than to pretend otherwise. Love it that Rafa has the guts to admit!

  13. Debbie says:

    Gosh Miri-thanks for typing that out! O. M. G. Those pictures…well…I am speechless…and breathless…need a shower. *fans self*

  14. tiemyshoe says:

    miri, you’re awesome for typing this up!

    I think Rafa’s so much hotter in his twenties than he was in his teens – stating the obvious, yes, but he’s maturing beautifully. Also … LIPS. Thanks, Bruce Webber.

    • CC says:

      Oh, hell yeah… SO MUCH HOTTER now than just a couple of years ago. Less cute puppy, more man. Imagine in five, ten years. Rafa will be…mmm… (Unless of course he stops playing tennis/working out, but keeps eating too many cookies and too much nutella.) He, he…

      • An says:

        Dont think that will happen anny day soon…

        That man just can’t sit still!!

        • nic says:

          Hahaha CC. That’s a funny thought.

          I didn’t read the article yet (though thanks so much Miri for the effort to put this up for us all, you’re a legend) – I want to savour it for when I get the hardcopy of the mag. The pics really make Rafa look like a matinee idol from old Hollywood with the khakis, the tousled hair, and the poses. Wow, he looks pretty smoking.

          Gotta say my initial reaction to the pics though was that it doesn’t really reflect the true Rafa that we know. It’s a glamourised version, which is of course absolutely to die for, but I do love Rafa the way he truly is, really stylish when he’s suited up or dressed up, but yet retaining his very young boyish rugged charm.

          Here he’s just so bronzed and godlike. I dunno, I think us lot can appreciate this for what it is, but I think people who don’t know much about him and see these pics will get a totally different idea of Rafa as a stereotype of a Spanish sexpot, rather than the warm, down to earth gorgeous man he is. But I guess the article itself will take care of that, since from everyone’s comments it sounds like it ‘gets’ Rafa. Hoping.

          Also, would have loved a picture that captures Rafa’s lovely warm smile, and also maybe a pic of him on court looking really athletic. I know, I’m asking too much! Just really glad he is in US Vogue, which usually is more Roger’s turf.

          • dutchgirl says:

            I think it’s nice that Rafa is on these pics in another way for a change. And it doesn’t really matter to me that people might see him as glamourous or something like that. If they aren’t interested enough to look closer, why should the need to know the real Rafa?

          • CC says:

            I know what you mean about wanting to see the real Rafa, nic. These pics are very “glammed” up, of course. I still love them (ok, I’m not hard to please when it comes to Rafa pics) and think that they DO reflect at least a bit of the real Rafa. Because although he looks sexy hot, you can still see the sweet boy in his eyes.
            Oh, I can think of sooo many photo shoots I’d like to see where more of the “true Rafa” comes through… ;)
            *swoons*

  15. nereis says:

    Thank you so much for typing and scanning, it’s really appreciated.

    His tanned skin looks great wearing white.

  16. faecoleman says:

    Yes thanx Miri for all your efforts I am addictive to this site! I have to say I like the 1st photo the others especially with the blazer don’t quite capture him the way he is. Love the fact he is so honest in this interview, maybe because he is so rather protected in life that is why he is easily afraid, however on court it appears that for the most part he does well to hold his own or at least has done(don’t want to jinx him), but still you often see him glance towards his Uncle Toni, if there, like in the semis @ Madrid he was pointing to his knee with his racket like something was wrong, or when he produced that amazing shot against Karlovic @ Queens last year and he re-acted out the emotion whilst glancing over to his box, just needing that reassurance! For this I think Tennis is such a mentally tough sport, that one on one intensity when there out there, so tense, and only the strongest come through it. For this Rafa has proven himself over and over and a step above the rest! Vamos Rafa!

  17. AnaR says:

    I think that a person must be very sure of himself to tell the whole world beeing the best tennis player of the moment, who he is afraid to stay alone and you can not go to your room and turned on all lights and he puts the music with a high volume until parent’s return home.. really he must be very secure. Not all men and less on that age, recognize that they are afraid. Is not it strange that this guy that controls the pressure very well when he is seen by millions of people around the world and in those moments that are decisive for the match and after he has fear home?

  18. hcfoo says:

    Gosh you type out every single word? HEhe thank you so much for the article. Love the pix!

  19. Nada H. T says:

    Thank You MIRI !!it is my birthday and this article with those

    gorgeous pictures of Nadal !! are the best Gift for my 25th

    Birthday!

    I LOVE HIM .. and all of you because you love him as well ;)

  20. Diane says:

    Thanks for the tip. I got my copy (my first Vogue, ever) tonight. Beautiful pictures, great article.
    Did anyone else notice Roger and Mirka’s wedding picture in the same issue?

  21. AnaR says:

    MIRI, today appears in the newspaper El Mundo, one of the most important newspapers in Spain (El País and El Mundo are the most important), an interview (but it is more than an interview) it is like a philosophie of Toni Nadal. It is important that everyone who follows Rafa can read it because it explains why that Rafael Nadal is how he is. It’s almost a philosophy study of the life. It is too extensive to translate it here, but it is important that people can read it. I can translate it with a bit more time if you want.

    http://www.elmundo.es/elmundodeporte/blogs/sinred/index.html

    It is amazing what this man has done with as a normal boy of an little city like is Rafael. It is very important to read this article for understand something of Rafa’s character and for all of us that we are fans of him.

  22. Atch2 says:

    I am the biggest Rafa fan in Thailand!

    I have to say that I love reading everything in this website and visit it at least twice a day. You guys are great writers/bloggers/commenters and you make me grin, smile and laugh. It’s great knowing there are Rafafanatics all over the world.

    And I will check out my bookshop tomorrow for the Vogue.

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