Home boy

Draw ceremony

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

CC made sure I saw this excellent article by Simon Kinnersley on the Times Online site. They really do love our boy. Still have him driving a Kia, but they love our boy (well, our young man).

There is a scene that says more about Rafael Nadal than 1,000 documentaries. It is Paris, four years ago almost to the day. He has just won the French Open for the first time and is walking down the street; Uncle Toni, his coach, is on one side, and former professional player Carlos Costa on the other. Toni whispers to his nephew that he should afford Costa the respect and status he deserves by walking on the outside. The newly crowned champion obliges and quickly swaps places, and the three of them carry on into the night.

I totally don’t get that. Does this mean Costa is Rafa’s little lady friend? Would Rafa have to put a jacket over a puddle for him as well?

We are sitting in his hotel room in Rome – perhaps the only thing that has changed is the fact that he resides in a suite rather than a standard room – which, in spite of its abundant luxury and the fact that he has spent less than an hour there, is already more than halfway towards looking like a student bedroom. A few photos Blu-Tacked to the walls and the makeover would be complete.

Clothes are strewn around, trainers and socks form footsteps on the carpet as though discarded as he walked across the room. Half-unpacked cases spill their contents across the floor; two young Spaniards are lolling on the sofa playing a computer game; the television is on; someone is chatting on their mobile; and in the middle is Nadal, dropping his jeans, tucking in his T-shirt and hitching himself up. Only his rackets seem ordered, resting neatly in their bag by the door. It is a scene utterly devoid of affectation or self-importance.

Sloppy equals “devoid of affectation or self-importance”? Woot! I’m humble!

“Why would I want to change anything, why should I change anything?” Nadal asks, rather disarmingly. “The atmosphere in my home is lovely. Why would I want to get somewhere of my own, and then come back to an empty apartment, and worry about whether I had any food left in the fridge and things like that? It’s much nicer to come home to my family, where everything is as it always was, my mother telling me to tidy my room, my sister, Maria Isabel, teasing me. Stability is very important to me.”

Don’t move Rafa’s cheese. (Oh wait, he wouldn’t have cheese…and I hate that phrase anyway.) Change is bad!

Nadal may have traded in his battered old mobile phone, but his car is not luxurious or ostentatious, just a Kia – something practical to get him around the island with his golf clubs. And he hasn’t bought his own boat to go fishing, preferring his father’s instead.

His poor little Aston Martin never makes the press. Is he trying to keep it humble too?

“Although getting to No 1 in the world was the fulfilment of a dream for me, because it is a measure of consistency over a year, the euphoria of winning a tournament, and particularly a grand slam, is far greater. Winning Wimbledon last year, for instance, the first Spaniard for more than 40 years, was a very special moment for me; it was the realisation of all those years of practising, training and hard work.”

Tournaments mean more than #1. Check. Agree.

Nadal, as the game’s authorities are only too aware, is now the man selling tennis. His presence is critical not only for tournaments to shift seats, but also to the television rights holders. While Roger Federer makes a traditional entrance on court wearing a blazer, Nadal, with his baggy, knee-length shorts, bandana and, until recently, sleeveless T-shirts, is the modern face of the game.

*more vigorous nodding*

“He’s definitely my favourite player to watch,” says Andy Murray. “He’s so competitive. You get this feeling he just wants to annihilate his opponent.” Andy Roddick concurs: “He’s a beast out there on court.”

The Andy’s love him.

Nadal, meanwhile, has been impressed by the rise of Murray. “His game has improved a lot in the past year. Before, he would lose matches he should have won, but he has written that out of his game and he now wins them. The result is he goes further in tournaments. Can he win Wimbledon? Of course, why not?”

And he loves an Andy.

Nadal laughs when I tell him of Roddick’s comment about him. “I don’t know where my competitiveness comes from,” he says, having readily admitted in an interview last year that his bravery is confined to the court. At home, on the rare occasions he’s alone, he’ll sleep on the sofa with the TV and all the lights on. “In tennis, it’s true that I will fight until my last drop of sweat, but not my last drop of blood – I don’t want to die! It’s all about giving everything, because I want to win so badly. I would hate to lose knowing that I hadn’t given my all.”

“I don’t want to die!” – hee! I can just picture him saying that and it makes me laugh even more.

“I have achieved all my dreams. My desire to win and the passion is still there, so too is my wish to keep practising and improving. But I am aware that once you get to No 1 in the world, the only way is down. Whether it is tomorrow, next year or in five years’ time, it will happen.

“But that is something that doesn’t worry me, because that is the nature of sport. If you are not prepared to lose and accept defeat, then you shouldn’t be playing. I know that I’ve been very fortunate, and if it all ends now, I’ve had a fantastic career and the privilege to live a life that most people never have the chance to experience. I will get my rod and go fishing.”

*sniff* For a twitchy guy, he’s just so freaking sane!

26 Responses

  1. CC says:

    Oh, I love it that the Times love him…

    “…and in the middle is Nadal, dropping his jeans, tucking in his T-shirt and hitching himself up.”
    My favourite part of this article. Just picture that… ;)

    Goodnight!

    • johanne says:

      If he had dropped his pants while I was interviewing him…ummmmmmmm yeah… can’t. finish. thought. too. dirty.

      *faints*

    • faecoleman says:

      dropping! his jeans and tucking in his t=shirt ‘phew Rafa!, would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that one! Great article, way ta go CC. Thanxxx

  2. Libby says:

    Outstanding article, and reading it made my day. Thank you so much!

  3. Maru says:

    I’m so glad that the press has given the *knees” their much needed rest =P
    I was getting bored of reading the same thing over and over again. And the 16th is just around the corner!!

    I SO LOVE that he lives and enjoys living at his parents, I’ve read it many times and each time it just makes me go: aw!! *blushes*

  4. Maru says:

    P.S. that’s a hot photo of Rafa *blushes again*

  5. johanne says:

    I absolutely LOVE this article, thank you! The Times loves him so much – they always seem to capture the true essence of Rafa, which is so refreshing. But perhaps the most enjoyable part of reading these articles (for me anyways) is that you can tell they sincerely appreciate Rafa and what he brings to the game. They know just how special he is. :)

    Btw, the mutual love between Rafa & Murray is sooo cute. I want to see those boys hug it out!

  6. patzin says:

    Excellent article. The Times always seems supportive and I really like this article. I feel better just reading it. BTW – There is a photo of Rafa in a kilt (and not much else) on VamonBrigade.com. Quite nice.

  7. patzin says:

    OOOPs – VamosBrigade.com

  8. loverafa4ever says:

    “I know that I’ve been very fortunate, and if it all ends now, I’ve had a fantastic career and the privilege to live a life that most people never have the chance to experience. I will get my rod and go fishing.”

    awww… my sweetie…

    Rafa… now its all abt winning more and more Grand Slams… It doesnt look like he is at all concerned abt the ranking. I think from next year he is gonna take it easy with the masters series.

    and I am sure that Murray and Rafa share a very gud relationship. Murray has a lot of respect for Rafa and its so much visible from all the interviews in which he talks about Rafa. He is definitely my second favorite out there.

  9. jimmy says:

    http://www.rafaelnadal.com/nadal/en/news/article/training-recovering-and-preparing-for-next-weeks-trip-to-london
    ________________________________

    While Rafa continues his treatment, we’d like to share with you this beautiful quote about Rafa Nadal from the seven-time Wimbledon champion and tennis legend, Steffi Graf:

    “If you watch Rafael Nadal play tennis, you can only respond with amazement and great admiration. He is an incredible athlete with so much discipline, so much concentration and someone who likes to put a lot of passion into every point”.

    “Words fail to come out of me to describe his game appropriately. I’ve rarely seen anyone who approaches a ball with so much attention. With such passion and joy that it makes it great fun to watch him. With him, you can associate everything that makes tennis so beautiful,” said Steffi to the German ‘Abendzeitung.de’ online newspaper
    _______________________________

  10. Vic says:

    While Rafa continues his treatment, we’d like to share with you this beautiful quote about Rafa Nadal from the seven-time Wimbledon champion and tennis legend, Steffi Graf:

    “If you watch Rafael Nadal play tennis, you can only respond with amazement and great admiration. He is an incredible athlete with so much discipline, so much concentration and someone who likes to put a lot of passion into every point”.

    “Words fail to come out of me to describe his game appropriately. I’ve rarely seen anyone who approaches a ball with so much attention. With such passion and joy that it makes it great fun to watch him. With him, you can associate everything that makes tennis so beautiful,” said Steffi to the German ‘Abendzeitung.de’ online newspaper.

    • ekattor says:

      I love how both Agassi and Steffi love our rafa….She was answering to the question about which modern day tennis player inspires her the most… Its not a surprize that she chose rafa… but its so great to hear such beatiful things about rafa from from the greatest female tennis player of all time.

      • faecoleman says:

        Yes is really nice to hear someone as great as Steffi admiring Rafa sooo much, its usually Roger taking the complements so thanks to Steffi, take note Critics!!!

  11. nic says:

    I love The Times for loving Rafa. For ‘getting’ Rafa, and for appreciating what he means to tennis. Oh Rafa, I hope you’re keeping strong in Mallorca, and keeping your chin up! xxx

  12. Atch2 says:

    “in the middle is Nadal, dropping his jeans, tucking in his T-shirt and hitching himself up”
    Besides imagining the scene over and over again, I’m a bit confused. Was Rafa getting dressed or undressed? No matter I suppose, bec it all depends on how you imagine it to end.

  13. aRafaelite says:

    The bit about walking on the outside of Carlos Costa is about showing respect for elders. I like to walk on the outside (street side) if I’m walking with my grandmother. It’s rare to see manners like this these days, but the Nadals are obviously a family with traditional values, and this is one of the many reasons why Rafa’s such a great role model. Don’t let it end yet Rafa – the rods will still be there in years to come!!!

  14. Atch2 says:

    Did you read the comments at the bottom?

    One of them was:
    “Long before Rafa picked up a racquet the name Rafael Nadal was well known here in Mallorca for music not tennis. Rafa´s grandfather recently appeared as guest conductor for a concert at my children´s school. Who drove Grandpa to rehearsals? Yep, the World Number One in a Kia.”
    elizabeth, palma de mallorca, spain

    • CC says:

      Oh, that’s great!

      When I went to Mallorca on holiday last year, Rafa’s granddad was on local telly with a programme about classical music. Really sweet. Not that I understood a word, but hey… (:

    • dutchgirl says:

      That was the one that caught my attention as well. I could picture Rafa, driving his grandfather around. Very cute!