Rome: Pre-tournament presser

The top players did pre-tournament pressers today. I’m still hunting for a transcript, but here are some excerpts via the tournament site.

When told that Roger had declared him the favourite, the old (or rather younger, care-free) Rafa would have praised his opponent to the hilt with a self-effacing smile. 2010 Rafa gave the kind of broody stare he usually reserves for on-court opponents, exhaled loudly then launched into his best impression of a teenager being forced to apologise for crashing his parents’ car. “It only starts today, I only arrived yesterday. It’s a very difficult tournament and the best in the world are here so it’s impossible to say.”

“I felt I didn’t really play well in 2009. I had great results without playing at my best,” he continued, to the surprise of the roomful of journalist who had watched him sweep all before him up until Roland Garros 11 months ago. “For the past one-and-a-half years I’ve had more physical problems that I would have liked to have had. This makes it more important that I run well and practise well now that I have physical problems.”

Are these different journalists who attended his pressers last year when he said he wasn’t playing well? Or do they just have short-term memory? Or does this journalist just want to make his story sound more sensational?

Questions about approaching the French Open differently now that he is not the defending champion, and the relevance of changing seedings based on past performances at the tournament in question as opposed to basing them purely on current rankings, were met with almost monosyllabic indifference, and only when talk turned to the new centre court here at the Foro Italico did Rafa allow himself to relax a little.

I really want to see video of this because…it sounds like standard Rafa to me. If he doesn’t care for the question, he doesn’t give it much of an answer.

And some photos:

Photos by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images and REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

At least he found something more fun to do for the rest of the day, according to this tweet, he and Nole went to see football.

47 Responses

  1. ack says:

    The descriptions of Rafa’s responses are great. (How in the heck could Roger declare himself the favorite? Hilarious!)I think he is really sick of praising The Mighty Fed. After all, he’s pretty damn great himself. Good for you Rafa!

    Great photos! Vamos, Rafa (and Nadal News)!

    • Michelle says:

      These pictures are gorgeous, flove him in hot pink!
      How adorable are his freckles? My favorites are “reciting from memory” and “Ya think?” XD Classic Rafaspressions.

    • ack says:

      Oops. Reread the presser. Roger declared him (Rafa) the favorite, not himself (Roger). Much better and I agree. Rafa is the favorite!

  2. tiemyshoe says:

    The Incredible Shrinking Rafa – can I put him in my pocket and take him home? Please?

  3. CC says:

    “…broody stare…”
    “…exhaled loudly…”
    “…monosyllabic indifference…”

    Heh, is somebody a bit pissy today? Anything I can do to make you feel a bit sweeter, Rafa? Well, thank God for football, ‘ey? ;)

    I FLOVE pink, curly whirly Rafa!

    • an says:

      Oh Rafa…. I’m sorry i was so busy this weekend.. I’m here now, so you just tell me what i can do to make it up to you;)

  4. Marilyn Wasserman says:

    The above excerpt is misleading. In fact Roger declared Rafa the #1 on clay.

    I suggest we ignore the journalist’s interpretations and wait for the full transcript. It all sounds like standard Rafa to me, too. He always says he focusses on the next match. He leaves teeth-gnashing over the draw to us, for which I’m sure his dentist is grateful.

  5. iren says:

    is it just me or rafas face looks indeed a bit tired nowadays already eye bags,or the athlates gets so tired it is normal for them,i mean he is still the most charmful man to me,but he is yet to turn 24 but sometimes his face looks tired nowadays eye bags even some wrinkles,i also think too much sun maybe doesnt help his skin..

    • Michelle says:

      Well, who could blame him, he WAS stranded on an airplane with 60 tenns and the Bryans. ;P

      But really, the constant traveling and the lifestyle on tour IS exhausting. I don’t think Rafa looks particularly tired here, more like bored out of his handsome skull. But it’s okay if he is, as long as he skips soccer and gets his rest before kicking butt on court. ;)
      The “shadows” that appear under his eyes in certain pics is just the affect of his prominent cheekbones. And let’s not forget that he does have that crinkle around his eyes when he smiles and (as we can see here) it also appears when he scrunches up his face in “Eh?” pic.

      Glad to hear he’s having fun watching soccer with tag along Djokovic. I wonder if he was at a pub somewhere, or in the players lounge. If that’s the case, lucky person who tweeted!

      • patzin says:

        I thought he was spotted at a local stadium with Novak, from Twitter. Also I love him in pink. It suits him. I read on the website for the tournie that Roger said Rafa was #1 on clay.

  6. tiemyshoe says:

    On second view … yep, still adorbs.

    But what’s up with all the speculation around Rafa’s mood every time he’s captured on film? I can’t recall any other athlete being so scrutinized for whether they smile, frown, grimace, or look bored or tired or whatever. Is this something specific to Rafa, due to an idea that he’s supposed to be naturally happy all the time or … what? That he only wins when he’s happy? That he loses when he’s grumpy? I’m genuinely confused about why Rafa’s mood is so constantly remarked upon.

  7. iren says:

    i said maybe all the sun too much pyhisical effort makes him look tired nowadays some eye bags even wrinkles,i didnt talk abaut his mood,i would be seriously worry for him if he tries to look so happy all the time..

    • Maya says:

      If I’m not mistaken Rafa went from Monte Carlo to Barcelona, to Majorca, back to Barcelona, and then onto Rome within a weeks time. There may have even been another trip to Majorca and back to Spain somewhere. Even a twelve year old would be suffering from bags and dark circles with that kind of itinerary.

  8. iren says:

    yeah you are absulately right,this weak should have been a rest weak..it turned out not to be…but we cant also deny that too much sun is bad for the skin even an unbeleiveble tan that he has it isnt good for sure he has a tiring life..anyway for me he is the most charmful man ever..not just because he looks,i love everything abaut him his facial expressions,his unique english,the way he walks everything..

  9. Atch2 says:

    Rafreckles is so HOT in those acid like bright colours.

    • miri says:

      Hey, robert – we were cross posting. (I was posting these as you were making this comment.) In the future, please only post links to photos that are properly sources or are yours. Thanks!

  10. Nana says:

    “The last year or so has seen him realise that he can no longer take tennis for granted though – a harsh realisation for someone who lives and breathes the sport like Nadal…”

    Not sure Rafa ever took his tennis for granted, but I think I took his winning tourneys for granted esp this time last year. I’ve learned to appreciate and be happy for every win much more!

  11. Fay says:

    Great pics and Rafa must be tired, he never stops! + major boring presser! questions, Looking forward to reading the original transcript… I too think Rafa never takes his victories on clay for granted, remember 2008 in Rome when he lost to JCF in the second round, he was playing shit hot tennis at the time and due to blisters/fatigue? he lost comprehensively! no I think he is always cautious and respectful of his opponents prehaps now more than ever.. and this week is no exception he has one hell of a challenge on his hands but he love the competition no? so *fingers cross* everybody..

  12. Maria says:

    Roger: “He has been on an absolute tear on clay, he has only ever lost one match at the French Open and though I would love to say that I’m the big favourite here and in Paris, it would not seem quite right.Rafa has proved again in Monaco just how tough he is but I think there are guys out here who can challenge him.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article7107845.ece

    • Nana says:

      Has Roger been brainwashed by Rafa now? All this talk about Rafa should’ve beaten Davy in Doha closely resembles what Rafa has to say on the subject. i.e. playing well since Jan 1st, and the defeats being accidents etc.

      And of course I agree with both of them =D

  13. Atch2 says:

    Rafa has a kiss curl in some of the pics. Awwww.

    Rafa, can I kiss your curl?