Happiness is the No 1 objective

Photo via the Times Online

Photo via the Times Online

johanne pointed out this lovely piece that totally helped improve my crappy day. Hell, just the photo alone put a huge smile on my face: After a year of pain, happiness is the No 1 objective for Rafael Nadal, by Neil Harman.

Re the book is he reading (Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser):

He also offered two considerable surprises. The first, that he should be consumed by a tale of a fictional British character who “runs from danger, betrays acquaintances at the slightest incentive, bullies and beats servants with gusto, beds every available woman, carries off any loot he can grab, gambles and boozes enthusiastically, and yet, through a combination of luck and cunning, ends each volume acclaimed as a hero”.

Not quite Nadal, except for the last bit. Xisca Perello, his girlfriend, bought it for him. “It’s about a person from Britain, no?” he says. “I have read 100 pages, it’s very good.”

Sounds like Xisca knows her man’s taste in books. Always a good sign.

The second was the anger — occasionally Nadal does do anger — that arose when the subject turned to the piece of non-fiction that has consumed column inches of newsprint since this paper first serialised Open, the memoirs of Andre Agassi, three weeks ago. The centrepiece of the serialisation was that the American former world No 1 had taken crystal meth in 1997 and lied about it to an independent doping tribunal to save his skin. Nadal pauses and takes a deep breath.

“I haven’t read the book, but he is not saying the truth of everything,” he says. “He is saying he hates tennis — that is impossible. One player plays for eight years and he becomes rich and he does not need to play for money and you hate that?

“Me? I love tennis, I love sport in general, I love other sports more than tennis, is the truth. I hated what he said about doping and the crystal [meth]. My opinion is that what he did is terrible for us, for the rest of the players, terrible for the sport, and it is easy to say now, but why wasn’t he saying this in 1997?

“Now he is free, now he says what he is feeling. Right now, because somebody pays him a lot of money, he says these things, not because you want to say that.

“It is terrible for tennis. Tennis in history is a very clean sport. If he did [it] in the past, right now I say he should shut up and not say anything because he owes almost all he has to tennis, and being who he is. Tennis is a big part of that, so is it fair that tennis gets back this kind of thing?”

Sing it, Rafa.

Nadal has had to contend for too long with snide whispers about his physique from countries consumed by doping conspiracies who cannot bring themselves to believe that someone so physically endowed can be clean. It is an affront to all he stands and plays for.

Actually, when people meet him for the first time, their second impression (they cannot remember the first because they have just been brought around) is that he is nowhere near as big as they had thought he was.

“All the time it happens,” Nadal says. “When somebody wins [something he last did in Rome six months ago] they look bigger, they have more muscle. A lot of people look and say, ‘This guy is losing weight’, but the fact is, I am exactly the same — 86 kilos. It is because I don’t wear the shirt without sleeves or the tight T-shirt. It is an impression. When I win again, they will say, ‘Look how big Rafa is!’ ”

*ahem*

The French doping authorities were knocking on his bedroom door in Paris last week at 9am after he had played two successive matches of more than two hours, the second of which finished so late he had not got to bed until 2.

“I am getting a little tired of this subject, all the time some journalists in this country [France] speak about my doping.

I have had many, many doping controls this year and last week they touched me in my room at 9 in the morning,” he says.

Hey, no touching allowed, doping people!

“I am totally in love with this sport. I don’t like people who are not fair and my opinion is the same — the way that people are trying to have a clean sport is not the right way.

“I like a clean sport, I don’t like the show. I totally support the cases of [Yanina] Wickmayer and [Xavier] Malisse [the Belgians who have been banned for a year for failing to fulfil doping obligations, a decision they are vigorously appealing against].”

To me, it sounds like he’s saying the same thing I say every time I have to take my shoes off in an airport: I’m all for safety in flight, but how exactly does me taking off my shoes insure that?

From the fringes there has been a lack of fulfilment as he seeks to rediscover his full intensity, having had to contend with tendinitis in his knees since April and an injury to an abdominal muscle, picked up in Montreal in August. True, the self-effacing smile has hidden a frustration that he is not quite there yet. Those are the physical side-effects. His life was thrown into greater turmoil than ever in May, when he realised that his parents’ marriage had broken down irretrievably.

During Wimbledon this year, when he should have been defending the greatest title of his life, Nadal was attempting to reconcile his parents, Sebastián and Ana María, and helping his younger sister, María Isabel, through the trauma.

“My concentration on anything was not exactly correct,” he says. “These were very difficult moments. I didn’t want to go out of the home, to the beach, I was more down than usual.

“Family is always very important and it was important in that time to be with those who I have the confidence to be around. We talked a lot and now I feel better and better about the situation. I am OK.

“This is my seventh year on the tour and at this moment, at 23, I have won six grand-slam titles, 15 Masters series, 36 tournaments and two Davis Cups, with the possibility of one more in Barcelona in two weeks. Sure, I have not had the best moments this year, but I feel — how do I say this? — I can say thanks for the life. My life is good, my family, my friends, good health, the problems behind me and everything is working well now. How can I not be happy with this?”

Glad to hear he’s worked out some of those issues and is ready to move on. Divorce is never an easy thing to go through at any age.

Whatever happens, Nadal will head into 2010 believing that he will contend for the grand-slam titles again, with his team in solid, unswerving support, his uncle Toni, mentor and coach, to the fore.

“Uncle is uncle,” Nadal says. “He is more than the coach and I want to say thanks to him for all he has given to me in my life. I have had a lot of messages, too, from those I don’t know in the world when I was at the bad moments. I feel the hearts of the people.” And they feel his.

Awww…*sniff*

61 Responses

  1. Nic says:

    Wow what a fantastic piece. I’m crying now at the last statement. Rafa, we totally feel you too. What a sweetheart. My heart is so full just reading this.

  2. mary says:

    Fuck me dead. I don’t think I’ve read such a candid & gutsy statement like this from Rafa ever. God if we can’t have clones of him, I’m just gonna die!!!
    “I have had a lot of messages, too, from those I don’t know in the world when I was at the bad moments. I feel the hearts of the people.” And they feel his.” Tear jerker!! sniff, sniff!!
    Me thinks he is rather pissed to the max at our dear Andre. Don’t blame him. I’m thinking exactly the way he is. You’d think Agassi made enough money without having to advertise his book this way.
    The book might be Rafa’s alter ego. :) Xisca, do you realize what you bought your man?
    So much more to talk about but going on a short holiday at 5 star accommodation where I don’t have to cook! Have to go now!

  3. johanne says:

    I just love Rafa’s outlook on the good, the bad, & the ugly. Seems like he’s always willing to learn & take the positives out of any situation. I wish him all the best in London & Barcelona. VAMOS!!!

    • johanne says:

      Also love that he’s not afraid to give his opinion. And LOL at this: “When I win again, they will say, ‘Look how big Rafa is!’”

      Oh Rafa <333

      • CC says:

        Yeah, and the “…last week they touched me in my room at 9 in the morning…” is priceless too!
        I love the Timesonline for not seeming to edit or “correct” too much of what Rafa says. It’s all so Rafadorable. :)

  4. glors27 says:

    Absolutely enjoyed this interview more than any!! he comes thru sooooo real and honest and yummy!
    About Andre…I have a sort of different opinion. I saw Andre in a “60 Minutes” interview, giving his side – WHY did he come out now…??
    His reasons: he said that it was eating at him – that to write a book about his life he HAD to come clean. Also – he does say he hated tennis and that at the time he took the drugs he was in deep shit in his life – He also says that about a year later – he got thru that horrible period, cleaned himself up – and re-took tennis and then he did it for the sport – at that time it was for himself – and it was a challenge for him at that age to climb back up the rankings – and he did it! he DOES NOT endorse drugs or anything like it – he says it was a horrible time in his life.
    I must say I love Andre, what he’s done with his life – looks so happy now with Steffi and the kids – a great dad. I feel that people just read the headlines about the drugs and did not go into the whole story.
    That’s my take – I
    I understand Rafa and his feelings – he loves the sport – but he should be more open and hear the ful story.
    Another thing Andre said in the interview is how much he had appreciated Andy Roddick and Murray for their phone calls when the news came out and how the supported him – they had heard the whole story. Andre said that he had expected some understanding from others…
    I know this is long, but the Andre issue is important.

    • miri says:

      The press kept going on and on about how Rafa and Federer were bashing Andre for the drug use and that’s what they would say to him. But that’s not what either of them said. They were pissed about the ATP story…and I tend to agree with them.

      I never liked Andre when he played and this book thing isn’t helping at all. I don’t care that he did drugs. That’s his business…except for the ATP looking the other way when he tested positive. His timing of that revelation – just after the rules say time was up on any actions that could be taken against him – is damn interesting. And, honestly, why mention the ATP thing at all? Just go with “drugs were fucking me up, but I got over it.” Casting a shadow over the drug testing program does nothing but hurt the sport and the public’s perception of it. I also find the need to publicly confess these kinds of things to be yet another act of selfishness. Finally, if he needed to be so open about things and help people realize they too could change their lives, why nothing about how he got off the drugs? That’s completely glossed over. Meth is highly addictive and extremely difficult to overcome.

      He’s been a serial liar/fibber most of his life and I fully believe the rumors that this is a ‘coming clean’ so that none of this can be considered skeletons in the closet when he runs for political office.

      I do admire what he’s doing with his school. I think it’s great that kids with no future are being given an opportunity by getting a good education, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to forgive the man for everything.

      • Suzanne says:

        The point that everyone keeps seeming to miss about the Andre “scandal” is that he was not taking a performance enhancer, but something which inhibited his performance and could have destroyed him. He has admitted that he majorly screwed up and had two choices; leave tennis and keep on the downward spiral or take control of his life and win on his own terms while cleaning his life up. I’m sad that this happened, but glad that the truth is out. I personally hope that this doesn’t affect whether or not he is inducted into the tennis hall of fame. Love him or hate him, he was brilliant with the racquet and his game changed the game of tennis (for the better) forever. I love the honesty and humility with which Andre expresses himself and the fact that he asked people’s permission before writing about them (including Brooke). I only wish the best for him from now on. I love Rafi, but consider that although Uncle Toni is a taskmaster and a toughie, he never taped a ping pong paddle to his toddler hand, nor hung a tennis ball over his crib, nor burdened him with supporting his family and keeping them together and happy with his success. See it however you want, but the villan in all of this is Dad Agassi.

        • miri says:

          The point that everyone keeps seeming to miss about the Andre “scandal” is that he was not taking a performance enhancer, but something which inhibited his performance and could have destroyed him.

          But as I said, I could care less that he took drugs. It’s that he got away with it by lying and then felt the need to “confess” just after the time limit for when any action could be taken against him. That’s kind of a “neeener, neener” to anyone going through doping testing and/or bans for doping right now. After all, some of the highest profile doping cases that have taken place in tennis lately are for recreational drugs.

          • eliza says:

            I completely agree with you, and with Rafa on this Miri. I used to be a big Agassi fan, but I have been very disappointed by this whole thing. It’s not that he took drugs but all the lies for all those years. Being honest about it now when he can’t be prosecuted isn’t brave at all – all it does is hurt the sport and hurt the current players.

            • Atch2 says:

              Convenient that Agassi confesses when he can no longer be prosecuted, unless for perjury. So what if the atp is taking the fall for you.

              Convenient that he said he lost the match to Michael Chang intentionally bec he didn’t want to play Becker. Too bad Chang believed that he earned that win all those years ago.

              Too bad if all your revelations impact the current drug-tennis-related cases in a negative way, especially if those under the spotlight are truly innocent.

              Like Safin said, if you really feel bad, go all the way and give back the titles and money, or donate it all to charity.

              Agassi, if you sleep better after the confessions and you don’t have to take any responsibility, it must be all that matters.

      • Ch F says:

        I agree. Even though I liked Agassi, I don’t buy the argument that he just wants to come clean and that it’s such a brave act etc. If all you really want is to come clean and redeem yourself, you just tell your story. You give a press conference, for instance. But Agassi wrote a book and got a 5million advance for it to top it all. That’s not called redemption, it’s called profit. Especially when no one can harm you anymore.

        • Rafangel says:

          I don’t judge Agassi for taking drugs at a really bad time, or even for lying to cover it up (not acceptable, but understandable). What really annoys me is what Rafa and a few others have said: going public, putting his interest before others’. It’s not fair on tennis, or the players, and especially not on the players who are being investigated for drugs (enhancing or recreational) – I bet it’s going to be much harder for them to get a fair hearing now, as the authorities need to look tough.

          Everyone makes mistakes, but salving your conscience at the expense of others just adds another layer of guilt – especially when you’ve had so long to think about it.

  5. Rafafan says:

    Two freebie magazines in two days on the tube to London going to work with Rafa pictures in. I was trying to peep over at the guy reading it – he was not amused. Grabbed the mag when he finished reading it. I would have paid a £5 just to read the article. I have to say the above article plus the ones in the magazine makes great reading. He really seems to open up to the British public – it’s like he is a different Rafa to the one that gives standard answers. It’s really funny to see 5 pages of Rafa with so many pics of him. We the Brits love him. And what made my day is – obviously they are publising the tournament – but not a word or pic of Federer its all about our Rafa. I think maybe after Wimbledon it showed how much he has been missed and we all british fans can’t wait to see him and his charasmatic character.

    Anyway I am in seventh heaven right now. Didn’t know how I was gonna do it but asked the boss if I could swap my hols – instead of Tue off to have Monday afternoon off work and he agreed. Couldn’t bear it not to watch Rafa play the SOD – it would have been criminal and torture for me not to see it, esp as had tix for Tue night when he not playing! Got them well in advance thinking he will be playing nights and normally doesn’t play until 2 days into the tournament. How wrong was I. I am off Wed – so may just have to get tix again if he is on. Will tape and get something to recognise on the TV for all the Nadal News fans.

    Vamos. I have every faith in him. He gonna witn the tournament. xxxx

    • Nana says:

      I’m jealous of anyone living in London right now! Any interesting rafa revelations from the mag you grabbed?

      • Rafafan says:

        Yes here are some. This is the magazine but I don’t know how you get into issue 138 the latest edition. They seem to have 137 up instead http://www.sport-magazine.co.uk/

        Interesting bits from that mag :
        “your well known 4 having to keep your drinks bottles lined up in a particular way” – “yeah I don’t know when I started doing this. I don’t believe in it. I do it but I do not know why. Am I tidy in my house? No no no nothing. I am a disaster (laughs). I only have this thing with the bottles, nothing else”.

        Well Rafa fans, we all certainly know what the other tics are and plenty of them that’s why we love him for it.

        “When you lose a match r u 1 to throw tantrums in the locker room?” – “Not really, normally I accept it… Sure some matches which upset me more – the final of Wimbledon 2007 was really tough for me and losing at Roland Garros this year was awful 2. After those losses, for the first 1 or 2 hours I am a little sad but later that’s it”.

        Yeah and we all know that he cried in the locker room at Wimbledon and he cried in the taxi after RG.

        http://www.shortlist.com/sport. Rafa fans, click on Sport then click on “Click here to read the magazine latest issue”. This is on the left in the square box. Click on the arrow and go to page 59 and 60 and then you can read about Rafa in all his glory. I was so excited reading it on the tube next to a stranger! He was a bit miffed.

        “What do you do to prevent injury?” – “Injuries always come so there’s not much I can do about it. I work with great doctors who help me with injury prevention. Since I hurt my abdomen I get some pain when I’m serving so I had to stop some serving exercises to be safe. I’ve also had to stop playing golf, which is s shame”. mmmmmmmmmmmm but Rafa you have been playing a lot of golf. Is this why you played so bad against Almagro and Robreado?

        “Your well known for your physique. How lond do you spend in the gym?” – I honestly don’t spend much time in the gym as it’s really not my thing. I’ve never done much working out but I do have a programmed basee more on aerobics. I’ll even eat junk food occasionally. I think it’s OK sometimes, as I’m only 23 and I burn a lot of calories every day”. ……..mmmmmmmm with Xisca? or those 10 a day chocolate cookies?

        “Youve toned down your famous pirate look (bandna, sleeveless shirt and pantaloon-style shorts) Is there any reason” – “No real reason. In life you have to change and my sponsors suggested some new outfits for me, which I liked.

        “craziest request froma fan” – this year at US open when a guy ran on to the court to kiss me and tell me that he loved me. Yeath, that ws kind of different.

        Yhis gives you an idea – hope OK to post Miri. Not sure what the protocol is

        • Rafafan says:

          Another intersting reply from Rafa from the shortlist sport article.

          “Novak Djok does an impression of you. Have you seen it?”

          “I have. In Rome this year he was forced to do it in front of me at the prize-giving ceremony! That was a strange experience. It’s more of a parody than an impression but I have to admit he’s pretty good at it”.

          I remember seeing this – very funny on utube. Rafa had won the tourney so good job as he may not have been happy Novak doing it but it was taking the micky in a polite way not like the SOD at Wimby 2007!

          • aRafaelite says:

            I loved that moment! One of my favourite tennis moments of the year!

          • Rafangel says:

            I liked Djoko’s diffidence there as he didn’t want to offend Rafa. Recently (Beijing?) he was asked to do a Rafa impression again and so he bit the trophy as a sort of homage. Appreciated that :)

        • Rafangel says:

          Oh no, he cried in the taxi after RG? Poor, poor poppet :( Such a sad thought. I’ve not really heard much about how he felt about it except what he says, that it was painful. Poor angel. Vamos Rafa, can’t wait til you wipe that pain out like you did with the Wimby 07 one…

          *hugs and hugs and hugs*

  6. yoni says:

    Wow, lovely article. More insight than any other article of late. He is really opening up, very good for the soul. VAMOS MY DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!

  7. Debbie says:

    I don’t know about this article. I think Rafa is starting to make shit up. lol. The Flashman book reference is reeeeaaaallly weird. I think Rafa is effing with us. Still flove him though!!

    • miri says:

      What, is a real book, no?

      I mean, the guy travels with Dragon Ball z DVDs with him and listens to national anthems. Nothing about his taste in movies, music or books would shock me!

      • Debbie says:

        This is a guy who says his favorite book is the Boy in the Striped Pajamas which is a far cry from Flashman. I think Rafa is a bit tired of the media and messes with them a bit. I love it though.

        • miri says:

          He can’t like a wide variety of things? My own bookshelves look quite schizophrenic :)

          And I remember him saying he was reading the Striped pj book, not that it was his favorite. He mentioned another youth oriented book as his fav last year – can’t remember the title. edited – just found it: City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

          • Debbie says:

            City of Beasts…same point. He has great taste in reading materials. It is okay to think he might mess with us a little, no? No big deal.

            • miri says:

              I think it’s also okay to think he likes a variety of things, no? :)

              • Debbie says:

                Ummm. Okay. I give. Nothing to see here. Move along please.

                • miri says:

                  Ha! I am victorious! :) (Sorry, I’ve had a day. I have the selfish need to win something today.)

                  I can’t stop laughing at the picture in this article. I showed it to my friend who thinks Rafa looks like he’s 12 and she said it totally freaked her out. While she still things he looks 12, she was disturbed by the adult hands fiddling with his mouth. “Why is an adult doing that to a little kid?” She said she had to close the browser window right away. For some reason, this makes me giggle even more when I see it.

                  • Ally says:

                    Ha! I agree with your friend. Is it possible he’s aging in reverse? Some of his recent pics have made me feel a bit … pervy. Oh well, I’ll deal:)

                  • Atch2 says:

                    That photo would make a great poster and t-shirt. Whenever u r feeling down, just take a look at it or wear it to cheer you up. So Rafadorable.

                • Rafangel says:

                  I can see him liking it – he’s got the laddish adventurous swashbuckling thing in some ways (Aston, Harley…), even though he’s usually too sweet to live it. Bless. *strokes hair*

  8. Maya says:

    I watched the Agassi interview on Tennis Chanel last night. Up until then I had been pretty disappointed in what was being reported. Andre put things in context and for the first time I could understand what he was hoping to accomplish with his book. I hope others who are asked to comment on Andre’s revelations will take the time to read the book too. I think the telling of his story was well intended and not just to make money. Actually the book could have been titled “Winning”, because he overcame his own demons or adversity to make the most of his gifts. Also,I know there are many pro athletes who give to charities, but I don’t think there are many who work as hard as Andre. He’s put his money where his mouth is. That says something.

    • johanne says:

      I respect your opinion but I just find it funny that so many people are saying “you have to read the book to really understand.” I’m sorry but I have no interest in giving Andre my money. I really don’t care that he did meth or hated tennis or wore hair hats. I’m very tired of the whole fiasco, to be quite honest.

      And I agree with miri that Rafa & Roger were being more critical of the Andre lying & the ATP covering it up, than coming down on him for using meth (that’s my problem with this whole thing too). I saw the 60 Minutes interview & Andre’s response to peer criticism was all about wishing people were more compassionate about his meth use. That’s not what they were critical about, Andre. The press really twisted this one up. I’m so over it.

  9. emir says:

    i wont make him any more richer….i dont care abaut him as well….never cared abaut him i have to say……plus i dont have time to read his silly book…

  10. Nana says:

    great article. thoroughly enjoyable. I think it’s also because the writer Neil Harman knows him well and rafa can open up to him =)

  11. Maya says:

    What I’m saying is you shouldn’t comment on something unless your making an educated comment. The only way you can be educated is to read the story. The press sensationalized aspects of the book to stir the pot and well, mission accomplished. If you don’t care about Andre or the situation, fine. But then why bother commenting?

  12. johanne says:

    Because it’s being shoved down my throat, that’s why. It’s everywhere. We get it, you have a book out. Shit happened. Those who are interested will read it. The press and Andre are overdoing it. Enough already.

    /rant

  13. CC says:

    I love all of it, from Rafa reading Flashman, to him criticising Agassi and everything in between.

    And then the photo… That boyish smile, together with those manly hands is just a killer.
    All I can think about is how much I want to bite and taste each one of Rafa’s sexy fingers, before they move on to do all sorts of dirty with me. Oh, Rafa…SEE what you DO to me!!! :D

  14. CC says:

    BTW, are we supposed to feel sorry for Rafa for this?

    “The French doping authorities were knocking on his bedroom door in Paris last week at 9am after he had played two successive matches of more than two hours, the second of which finished so late he had not got to bed until 2.”

    I don’t. Could you not go back to bed after you had a wee, Rafa?

    • An says:

      Ah CC, if he is like me and does not go to bed until 2 you can sleep a little longer then 9am next morning but if someone would wake you up, you are awake and awake means awake and not be able to sleep annymore! He probably has that, he’s a person so full off energy…

      But he does needs his rest.

    • Atch2 says:

      But seriously WADA, would the test results have been that different if you’d knocked on Rafa’s door at say 10 or 11am? Getting woken up and then trying to get into that deep sleep again is annoying.

  15. aRafaelite says:

    Another great article by Harman about our Rafa! As long as Flashman doesn’t replace City of Beasts as his favourite book… although I suppose he ought to grow out of children’s books eventually (says the Harry Potter fan)?!

    I understand where Rafa’s coming from re. the Agassi revelations – he can’t conceive of anyone hating something he loves so much, and doing something to damage the reputation of the sport (by making the revelation). I still find it hard to believe myself that someone I enjoyed watching so much, and who played with such passion, could hate the sport… but I can also understand how something as completely all-consuming as professional tennis could inspire hatred, and how difficult it would be to walk away from something you’re so good at. My job consumes so much of my emotional and physical energy that quite frankly I hate it, and have been trying to find another job for months, yet people who see what I do tell me how much they love my enthusiasm?!

    I haven’t read “Open” yet – I picked it up off the shelf the other day and then put it back but I expect someone will buy it for me for Christmas anyway. However, disappointed as I am about the reaction of the ATP, I’m not so cynical as to believe that Agassi revealed his drug-taking to make money and sell his book, and I’m a little bit surprised that Rafa (who always strives to be fair and compassionate and see the best in people) seems to be suggesting that. I guess I’m going to have reconcile myself to that by seeing it as an expression of the depth of his love for tennis and desire not to see the reputation of the sport tarnished.

  16. lele says:

    I think all the Agassi hoopla is annoying to fed and rafa. It just makes you think about your career ending and distraccts from your focus. It may be great for Agassi to come clean but it makes tennis more about personality and personal demons than competition. I don’t think rafa is a fan of that.

    • aRafaelite says:

      Which is kind of ironic, because Rafa has the most captivating personality and presence on and off court since… well, Agassi?!

  17. lele says:

    Also Agassi said the fed/nadal era is ending and supported andy Murray as next #1. Nadal is just 23 and Agassi did meth at 27 and then still came back to win more slams. Why can’t nadal continue to dominate.

  18. Atch2 says:

    I think Rafa likes the book bec he’s a bit of a scaredy cat and that’s probably an imaginary world for him to be the opposite of who he is, a bastard, a womaniser, a rebel. Or like how men want to be Bond, James Bond. Luv that Xisca got that book for him.

    I luv Rafa’s outlook on life, all appreciating of what he has in his tennis career and personal life. And we know that he hurts and is sad when he loses, but it hurts and depresses me even more when I read how critical we can be of him when he loses. We analyse and pick on his mental state, his physical play, his strategy, his execution etc. I want to be positive like Rafa and especially An on this site, when Rafa wins & loses.

    • An says:

      Thanks for the compliment!

      It makes me feel so glad that he says he feels the hearts of people when times where bad… i sent him a supporting message trough his web-site evry week in that time… To think one off them might have helped him to feel a little better fills me with joy!

  19. emir says:

    he said THERE are SPORTS which he loves more than tennis…….himm that is strange i always have the feeling rafa loves football more than tennis….there are sports he said does he mean golf as well…..GIVE ME A BREAK RAFA…..well i dont understand the players this sport gives them success pride fame everything and you still love other sports more…..OK I CANT ATTACK people CHOICES BUT THAT IS STRANGE AND DISSAPOINTING……i love rafa but i also dont like his interwiews nowadays that much….there is so mnay reasons of it it is a long story so maybe i will write later why i dont like…….

    • ava says:

      LOL you must be the only one who finds Rafa’s recent interviews not likeable and interesting.
      A lot of people here including me find them extremely insightful and demonstrates time and again that Rafa is maturing beautifully and is a person with integrity.

      And I find no problem with Rafa saying he likes some sports more than tennis. We have all seen how much he cares about tennis….

    • Atch2 says:

      I don’t think Rafa has to luv the sport that earns him the money. A lot of people don’t luv the job that pays them the most. There are probably different reasons why he likes different sports, but he is a natural athlete so naturally he would like different sports.

    • Nana says:

      He sure said he loved tennis. But doing it professionally means he also suffers for it, unlike football and golf which he does for leisure. We are all a bit ambivalent about our job however much we might like it. Why not cut him some slack?

  20. Carol says:

    Neil Harman – I could hug you!

    I always knew he & the Times were pro-Rafa, but this is so much more like some of the more candid articles we’ve seen from the Spanish press… Not surprised to see his comments re Agassi: Rafa’s quite a conservative person from what I can make out and has been brought up with strong moral values. It comes across too that he’s concerned about possible bad effects on the sport he loves.

    Love the bit about the Flashman book – there’s a whole (very long) series of them: they’re aren’t to everyone’s taste, but then I’d rather read Clive Cussler than chick-lit.

    I can see the headline in The Bookseller (trade mag for book trade): The Rafa Phenomenon – Sales of George McDonald Fraser Flashman series go through the roof!…

    Ha! Is Xisca suggesting subtly to Rafa that she wouldn’t mind him being a little bit of a bad boy? ;-)

    • Rafafan says:

      I think the press have done wonders with our Rafa – so pure and innocent on the outside but believe me I am sure he is a little bit of a naughty bad boy! You have seen him with his playstations with the boys and also all the swear words and when he has something to say he says it! (in spanish). Remember he watching DC – with the Spanish Armada and was ticking (or a little bit more forcefall) telling his own team off. Also in the doubles recently he looked like giving Monoco a mouthful – but he was ignoring it. I think Rafa is very passionate and nothting will stand in his way with his competitiveness – in tennis, in life and with theh girlfriend. Love ya for it xxxxxxxxxxx

      • Carol says:

        Oh sure – I recall him really laying into Ferru over the spat about Madrid vs Barca re DC venue – don’t get me wrong, I love to see he’s human and not some un-touchable God-like purity figure! The play-station stuff, esp with Charly has me in giggles… (God, I love those two… if I was ever, ever to have a threesome…)Sorry…

        Anyway:don’t we love Rafa better for being a Man now, than the 16 year old boy-man “phenomenon”?

    • sunset says:

      Some of the guys standing don’t look too comfortable up there…bet they would rather be in Rafa or Rog’s seat. You got to earn it guys :)

    • Rafangel says:

      That may be the nicest pic so far. But it unnerves me when Rafa crosses his legs – those great big thighs must be crushing some VERY IMPORTANT parts of his anatomy. Preserve them, Rafa – I have strong designs!