jimmy and Pat sendt in this article from The Independent by Paul Newman. (I admit, I giggled when I read the author’s name. Then I craved spaghetti sauce.)
The article is nothing all that new, but seems to bring together a few ideas from other articles. I have to admit, my hackles get up a bit when I read a headline like this one. Toni didn’t “make” Rafa. Yes, he’s played a major role in his life and career, but I often feel a bit sorry for Rafa’s parents when I read headlines like that – especially since the article is more about Rafa’s character than about his tennis.
It is the small hours of the morning at a deserted Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open, and Rafael Nadal’s day is finally done. The interviews are over following his dramatic five-set victory in the final over Roger Federer, he has showered and is anxious to return to his hotel for a few hours’ sleep before the long flight home.
The only people still on the premises appear to be a handful of journalists and security guards, but as Nadal approaches the rear exit it is evident that many of the transport staff are still on site, having waited to greet the newly crowned champion. Nadal is clearly exhausted but goes into their office and offers a handshake or a hug to every one of them, thanking them for their help over the last fortnight.
Two months later, on the eve of the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal is helping to promote the tournament outside the Prince’s Palace, the official residence of Monaco’s royal family. He is standing for a photo-shoot alongside Prince Albert, Andy Murray, the tournament director Zeljko Franulovic and two guards in ceremonial uniforms. Their photographs taken, the VIPs start to walk away. Nadal, however, turns round and goes back to thank and shake hands with the two guards.
You know, I think the guy is great, but he can’t be perfect right? He must have at least once said, “screw you” when stuck in a situation like this, right?
Did Rafael ever gone through a rebellious phase? “No. Never.”
I have to admit, the cynic in my thinks this is soooo wrong and I always worry about a mid-life rebellion and that’s never pretty. (Then again, I used to have a mohawk and hung out in punk clubs, so what do I know.)
Does he always do as Toni says? “Yes. When he was young, especially, because I was the one in charge.” And now? “Not necessarily,” Toni says with a smile. “He’s 23. It’s not the same as when you’re a child. You don’t treat someone the same age when they’re 23 as when they are 10. He’s a man now and he can do what he wants.”
Well, thank goodness!
“From an early age I thought he could be very good, though maybe that was because I’m his uncle and that’s what I wanted to believe. When he won the Balaeric Island championships [Rafael won the Under-12 division at the age of eight] was when I really started to believe. I think the fact that Carlos Moya, another Majorcan, had become a very successful tennis player meant that we thought it might be possible.”
Awww…so cute that he throws in the bit about maybe his early belief in Rafa’s skill was familial pride.