A crowd is growing at the tennis court. Amongthem, a young boy shouts excitedly into hisphone, “I can’t believe it! I came to play tennisand ended up meeting Rafael Nadal!” Hespeaks for all in attendance.This is what happens when the #1 rankedtennis player in the world—Rafael NadalParera—chooses to warm up at a small, publicclub. This particular one, in East Melbourne,Australia, isn’t far from where he will sooncompete in the most illustrious tournamentDown Under. He was immediately drawn to it,saying it reminded him of where he used to playback home in Manacor, Spain.
Home is perhaps the most important part of Rafa'sstill-being-built story. When he was just a 14-year oldtennis prodigy, gaining momentum and collecting astring of impressive junior titles, Spain’s ruling tennisbody insisted he move to Barcelona to train moreformally. His family turned down the offer, and with it,additional money, saying their ‘Rafa’ could become agreat athlete at home in Manacor, under the guidanceof his uncle. Not moving, it turned out, was a bold move.And it made the priorities clear: home and family. Soon,amassing championships would be added to the list.Something he’s done so frequently, it is often achallenge to remember the game without the 27-yearold legend.When the practice is session over, he walks over togreet the crowd that still can’t believe their luck. Youngboys laugh, eagerly presenting racquets to be signed.Nadal takes it all in, relaxed and smiling, clearlyenjoying this well-worn court with the familiar feel. Evenas his manager reminds him of the next pressingappointment, he takes the time to shake all the hands,pose for photos with the kids and thank thewell-wishers.In a few days, Nadal will play for yet another major title.But on this morning, he went back in time for a bit.Everyone watches as he climbs into a car and wavesone last goodbye. Then one of the all-time greatesttennis players pulls out of the past and slowlydisappears – only to head into the future.
begins training for an upcoming match.
THE PRIDE OF MANACORThough Manacor is never far from Nadal's heart,home is now wherever he takes the court.Here, Nadal sports the Tech Windrunner before he
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