X marks the spot


Photo by EFE via SportsYa

Kelli DeMario’s new tennistalk.com article (The X-Factor: Rafa in the raw) does a good job of explaining why, for many of us, Rafa has “it”. It also includes this hilarious quote from a former pro:

“(Watching Federer win everything)…is the same as having sex (while) wearing a condom. It feels okay, but (it’s) not even close to how you feel when you don’t”.

But, *ahem*, moving along…

The Mallorcan projects an accessible, engaging warmth. Nadal, for all his international notoriety, remains congenial and friendly, retaining a measure of approachability present long before his evolution into a household name.

*nods head*

And, she recalls tennistalk.com’s Cheryl Murray talking about her first “face-to-face” with Rafa:

As I filed out of the room with the other English-speaking reporters, I passed by Mr. Nadal (I think he’d finished his chips by then). There is…something about him. Maybe his old-fashioned politeness or just the fact that he seemed so comfortable in his own skin. Whatever the case, I felt compelled to smile at him. I hadn’t expected anything in return. I just…felt like smiling. And Rafael Nadal smiled right back at me and gave me his most delightful yiddish-sounding “hccchellllooooo”.

I can’t say why that moment sticks in my mind except that in a room full of reporters, he made me feel welcomed. A guy who is hounded by reporters when he walks on the beach took the time to be nice to a nervous, unknown journalist. Is it any wonder that we are all so looking forward to his return to competition?

Okay everyone, all together now: Awwwww!

17 Responses

  1. sia says:

    Miri when I read this at tennistalk that is exactly what I said awwww … just couldn’t help it.

  2. johanne says:

    HAHAHAHA yes! I read this article earlier today and was totally cracking up! That sex quote is SPOT ON!!

    Love that you posted this article here…. Rafa definitely has “it”. And I can’t wait to see it next week!! :)

  3. Suzanne says:

    Awwwww…ooooooh…mmmmmmm…speechless…eyes tearing up…love him!!!

  4. Atch2 says:

    Great article.

    Rafa definitely has that X-factor, that for which we luv him for. Like the article says “You cannot buy it, develop it, nor teach it. You either have it or you don’t. Nadal overflows with it, and in a nutshell, the Tour needs him”. “The last few months without him have left a gaping hole on the Tour, leaving the ranks of professional tennis replete with pre-scripted outcomes and in want of more drama, fun and excitement”.

    And he does have a habit of bringing in food to his pressers. Eating in front of reporters does not make him feel uncomfortable and they seem to enjoy his ease with them. How I wish I could attend his live pressers. And how I envy anyone who has been smiled at by Rafa.

    We have missed u Dearly Rafa!

    • cookie says:

      I also envy anyone blessed by a smile from our beloved~~ but luckily for him Kelli was there instead of me because I would have lost all restraint and given him a hug upon hearing hccchellllooooo. (X-factor = irresistibleness).

  5. Suzanne says:

    I just read the whole article and many of the comments. Boy, Fed fans just don’t seem to get it. Roger is a good guy and a fantastic player, but he’s kind of a nerd. He is also rather untouchable. Rafa on the other hand is, as this reporter states, comfortable in his own skin. He is kind, happy, and besides the talent he has, he has a hunger to win that is insatable. Fed gives off the feeling that he is entitled to win by virtue of his talent. I don’t dislike the guy, as a matter of fact, I’m happy for him that he’s had such success as he has such a respect and honor for the history of the game. It’s just that where I “like” RF, I LOVE Rafi because he has respect for the game, respect for people, colm in his demeanor, honesty, and what the above reporter said, “That X-factor” which few have. Andre Agassi had it…when he was 136 in the world, people still wanted to see him play and expected him to win. 21,000 people cheered him in an unprecedented standing ovation at the US Open where he retired for about 10 minutes. People love Rafa in the same way. When someone cares about what they do and the people around them, and the folks who are their fans and have a zest for life and are kind and caring, people are just drawn to them. Rafi will be cheered wherever he goes (except maybe Paris…their loss) and we will watch and cheer right along. Soooo cute the way he said hello to the smiling, nervous reporter! That’s why we love him…

  6. Delta says:

    Nadal’s X-factor includes a laundry list of adjectives; of which would take up a chapter. What is so endearing about him, is that he’s aware of his appeal as a World Class Tennis Star, but appears
    to be oblivious to all the adulation. Although always humble and appreciative of his fans & peers. Thinks of himself as the little boy from Manacor with his same friends, GF, and extended family. Also growing up with his Uncle being a “celebrated athelete” had to somewhat shape him into this extrodinary creature.
    To him, this is his work. So it’s all relative. He’s definately “unique” and is captivating in every sense of the word!

  7. PistolPete says:

    Miri – you should say that this article is intended for 18 yrs+ and above. There was quite a bit of objectionable content in there. I trust that there would be younger audience to this site also.

  8. johanne says:

    Miri: great comment on tennistalk.com. That’s why I’ve always preferred Rafa. You hit the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned.

  9. Carol says:

    Well, what more is there to say?
    Rafa Nadal: the complete person. Don’t think there’s a nasty bone in his body. And when he retires, he’ll still be exactly the same…

  10. mary says:

    So sweet and typical of our heartfelt Rafa to make perfect strangers even journo’s feel welcomed.
    On the news in brisbane tonight it was mentioned how Rafa is playing at Montreal and how he has been missed. They went on and added in an intense way how passionate Rafa is about his sport and how tennis needs him. I was blown away that a commercial channel who will not be airing any tennis of Montreal could even mention his name let alone sprout admiration in a fashion you’d never expect.

  11. nic says:

    aaww i really liked this article. she totally got rafa. what a sweetheart. and that x-factor is so true. he has it in spades. best part is rafa is pretty oblivious to all the reasons why people love him to bits. sigh. he’s gorgeous. how many times have i said this. but there’s not enough words to describe his awesomeness. and i so love how in the article the writer points out the bit in the “it must be love” US open video when rafa smiles at the camera. that part just makes my heart do backflips…. *melt*

  12. faecoleman says:

    When I read this on tennistalk’ the last night, I wrote quite along comment, this produced quite a stir amongst fed fans, re; sex quote’ they really took offence! Just love the articles, there have been soo many haven’t they. Its nice to no that soo many professional journalists are as fascinated with this amazing athelete as we are. She couldn’t have put it better either. I have often imagined (Susan likewise), that when Rafa comes towards the end of his career he will be applauded just like Agassi was, he brings so much excitement to tennis and that charm well!!!
    I too was a great fan of Agassi’s, … Rafa likewise just has something really special. Roger is a great player but hasn’t the pizzas of Rafael Nadal…

  13. chloe says:

    Kelli got it spot on. It’s always great when someone echoes what you already think. From the moment I first saw Rafa play, my tennis has revolved around him and I like many others have missed him terribly over the past couple of months. I’ve been watching tennis for years, and no other player has been as captivating as Rafa, McEnroe had charisma, but he did not have the charm.

    I hope Rafa’s knees allow him to be around for a long time to come, he has given tennis something that’s been lacking for a long time.