AO: Q&A for The Age – continued
It’s time for more question and answers from Rafa and The Age:
Question from Lisa: Hi Rafa, My husband and I went to Melbourne for the first week of the Australian Open. I took my copy of your book hoping to get it signed but missed the chance. My question is, if you are out with your friends having dinner and relaxing does it bother you if fans come up to you for autographs and photos? Would you prefer to interact with fans when you are ‘on the job’? Good luck in the final!
Rafa says: No, it doesn’t bother me at all. Sometimes if I am in the middle of my grilled fish I would prefer that they come as soon as I am done, otherwise it gets cold…. :-)
Do not let Rafa’s fish get cold, people.
Question from Miri: How many Australian Open towels do you have now? ;)
Rafa says: I haven’t count them, and I give them away to team, etc. But around 10? :-) Don’t tell the tournament though…. ;-)
I won’t tell a soul…if you get me one.
Question from Maureen: Dear Rafa, Firstly ,many, many congratulations on your fantastic victory today. What an incredible and amazing performance and what a great start to your season. I wanted to ask what kind of music you listen to when preparing to go on court. I understand you were using music to maintain focus during the firework display. Is it inspirational music or music to help remain calm? Or is it Spanish music to remind you of home? I wish you every success in the Final and thank you for giving us all so much.
Rafa says: Many thanks. I listen to Spanish speaking music mainly.
And do you dance and sing along while listening?
Question from Jean: Hola Rafa, I loved your book and admire your tremendous mental toughness, humility and kindness. Thank you for being such a great role model. What changes (if any) do you think are necessary in the tennis industry in order for the sport to remain commercially healthy? Gracias
Rafa says: Thanks for your nice words. This is something it would take me a long to time and words to explain. Let me just tell you that what we are trying to do is for the good of the future generations since I am sure they won’t affect me since my career will be over. We have to think on the young players coming up.
And make it commercially viable – to go back to the question.
Question from Ben: Hey Rafa, Do You think You Are A Chance To Win The Australian Open This Year?
Rafa says: I am in the final so I suppose I have some. But I know it won’t be easy!
Nope, not going to be easy. A final shouldn’t be.
Question from Jacklyn: Dear Rafa, Congratulations on being in the finals!!!! It is always great seeing you and Roger play against each other! Now, you remember during one on-court interview, you said you will do the interview shirtless if you get into the finals! So, my question is, are you ready to be shirtless for that interview? Can’t wait! Remember to be aggressive, Rafa! Don’t stand 20m behind the baseline! Standing at the baseline is good enough ;) Vamos Rafa! Plenty of good luck! VAMOS!
Rafa says: I thought they would forget…. We’ll see. I am a man of word but also a bit shy… and don’t like to show of! ;-)
Uh-huh. Sure you don’t like to show off. Not even just a teeny, tiny little bit.
Question from Juliette: Hi Rafa, Do you have a favourite poem or poet? I remember when you read part of the famous poem at Wimbledon in 2008 with Roger, I like that poem a lot and I enjoyed hearing you read it with your lovely Spanish accent (Spanglish!)
Rafa says: That was at Wimbledon and they made me read that poem that you find at the entrance of the centre court. It was nice although tough for me to understand the words.
And difficult to say a few of them too. Reading out-loud in a foreign language? Not easy.
Question from John: Barca or Real Madrid?
Rafa says: Real Madrid, but I admire the way Barça plays nowadays
Someone who didn’t already know the answer to that one? Shocking!
Question from Krishna: Rafa, I’m a great fan of you. Since my childhood you were my hero. Congrats on your win against Federer and all the best to your finals. When will you come to India again..? We are eagerly waiting for you!
Rafa says: I would love to!
Hopefully he’ll get to visit some of the kids who went to the school there to see what kind of impact it has on their lives.
Question from Diana: Amigo, if you reach the final, God willing, whom would you prefer to see on the other side of the net?
Rafa says: I would prefer to see the one that will play less good… They are both great players so not really going to say this or that.
Question from Kylie: Dear Rafa hi, you are by far my favourite pro tennis player not just because of your great tennis abilty/success but because of your obvious compassion for people. I have two teenage children and I constantly am pointing this out to them, so thank you for your grace and good example. I have also recently had major surgery so am loving watching you in the Aust Open through my recovery – good luck you can do it!!! Ps. what is the thing with touching the net as you change ends? Regards Kylie
Rafa says: Many thanks for your kind words. Hope you feel better soon. I just change ends and nothing more.
Yep. Nothing unusual about how you change ends…like always doing your best to make sure you do so last.
Question from Flynn: If you are losing, what is your best tactic; play aggressive and take risks or be consistent and let your opponent make the mistakes? Hope you win the Aussie
Rafa says: If I am losing (or wining) what I think is on the next point, how to win it. For that I might have to change tactics or even strategy but the most important thing is to win the point. If clearly things are going well then you change less things.
The number of non-stop decisions and adjustments players have to make on the court always earns my respect.
Question from Steve: HI Rafa, How do you manage yourself in the extreme heat?
Rafa says: We haven’t had that this year in Australia. But the other day I had some ice around my neck in change overs to try to keep the heat down. You also have to hydrate.
Not just around your neck. You were working that ice towel like a pro and get an A+ for creative ice-towel positioning from me.
Question from Anni: Hola Rafa. I am a really bad tennis player, but I love playing. I am always being told to watch the ball as it hits the racquet, but find this supremely difficult. I have watched you and other top players in slow motion and it seems that you mostly do watch the ball hit the racquet and you head turns to see where it has gone much later. Is this conscious?
Rafa says: This is very important, to have fun! Yes, you have to watch the ball otherwise you can’t impact well and it will be a mess. Keep your eye on the ball always!
*takes down notes for first tennis lesson*
Question from Pablo: Hi Rafa, I’ve got two questions. First, is there anything of your game that you consider a bad habit, something you don’t want to do but still do it unconsciously? Second, which position do you like playing in football, striker, midfielder or defender? Keep the good run going!
Rafa says: Yes, I sometimes tend to go back and that way I give up too much space. If I play closer to the line should be better. As a football player I love to play as a striker, but I think I did well staying in tennis.
Again: thank you for picking tennis!
Question from Diana: What are the best and worst aspects of playing against Roger Federer in a Grand Slam Tournament?
Rafa says: Roger is with Rod Laver the best player of all times from my point of view, so to play against him is always special, a special challenge and something different. You can imagine that there are many things you have to be worried about. And it is true that defeating him, when it happens, is something that gives me extra confidence due to the difficulty of the rival.
Keep working Laver in their Rafa – working that home crowd.
Question from Prashant: Rafa..i am a huge fan. Your passion, sportsmen spirit, humbleness are so inspiring. For me you are the best champion. My question is that yesterday when you played Berdych, you played much better when you were close to baseline. You even returned his serves well. Why don’t you regularly play that way?
2. Throughout your career, pick one player who is most difficult to play against.
3. Did you have any tennis player who inspired you when you were young.
1 – I know I have to try to play closer to the baseline but don’t forget that the rival with the heavy balls push you back. But you are right.
2 – I think Roger has been the most difficult always
3 – No, i never had tennis players that inspired me although I did watch Carlos Moya since he is also from Mallorca and I became good friends with him.
Sometimes, I wonder if he just feels like screaming: if I felt I could play inside the court more often, don’t you think I’d be doing it?
Question from Niamh: Hi there Rafa! Thanks a million for answering our questions during the Australian Open…..you are really great! Many congratulations on your 5 very great victories in the tournament…..I really hope that you will win the trophy, Rafa…..I really love to see you biting your trophies! When you are playing in tournaments, which do you prefer…..the first few days, when the tennis club is very busy with lots of players, or the last few days, when there are very few tennis players at the club? Thanks a million, Rafa and good luck against Roger. Best wishes for really great health, happiness and luck for 2012,
Rafa says: THis is a very good question. I like both weeks for two different reasons. The first week every players is there so it is nice to eat, spend time with the other players and the friends. You know we have lunch, the locker room is busy so it is nice since you talk a lot with everyone, etc. But is is also nice the second week since it means you are at a very important stage of the tournament. You also see the juniors that are playing, the wheel chair players which are amazing how the play and also since it is more relaxed in terms of people around. So both of them are good although very different
Love that he mentions the wheelchair players. At the end of the of the US Open practice sessions I’ve seen, he had to walk past some wheelchair players on his way off the practice court. He walked very, very slowly and watched them the whole way.