"A year without respite, it has been unpleasant from beginning to end" -
Rafa's interview with El Pais
Rafael #Nadal (Manacor, Mallorca, 28 years old) has just finished a season overshadowed by physical issues (the back, the wrist and the appendix) and one that saw him win his 14th major title at Roland Garros. The world number three, who visited Madrid as ambassador of Banco Sabadell, has a plan: to start practice in December and begin 2015 full speed ahead.
Question. You injured your back in January. A diagnosis is yet to be made public.
Answer. I have a joint between the L1 and L2 that is a little sore [it is a facet syndrome, inflammation of the joint between the two vertebrae]. In Australia, due to a bad movement, there was a strong muscle pull and the joint has remained a bit sore. It has resulted in a bit of a lack of confidence, a fear that it can happen again, especially when I serve. And I do not serve fluently. These are small details that are very noticeable at the highest level.
Q. You are undergoing a treatment with stem cells, an unusual technique, which is not certain to work.
A. Sure, in this life there is only one sure thing, the rest… for me it has worked very well for my knee. Both the plasma injections in 2009-2010 and the test with stem cells that I had done to the lower part [of the knee] at the end of last year. It has improved enormously, not only on court, but in terms of quality of life. It is not something I worry too much about: I believe that it will work and that it will allow me to work well in December, which my main goal.Q. Your treatment has been made made public and you wake up to headlines saying that it is banned in other countries.
A. The unknown makes it possible to convey information incorrectly. How can it be doping? First of all, the technique should be known. Second, if there was the slightest risk it could be doping, how am I going to do this by myself? My understanding of sport, without any doubt,… it hurts me even to answer it… is that I would hang the racket as high as I could, not to be able to pick it up, before cheating and ruining everything I’ve achieved over the years. Everyone has limits. Your body has limits. You cannot fool yourself, fool people. That is what doping does: deceiving everyone, and the first one you deceive is yourself. And in addition you put your health at risk.Q. The worst part of 2014?
A. The greatest torment in 2014 has been the wrist. It has been a year with good times, but unpleasant from beginning to end. There has been no respite. I felt I was playing very well in Australia, and then what happened in the final happened [he injured his back and lost]. It affected me mentally and physically. I was feeling bad. As Roland Garros approached, I started to get back on track and had the energy back I need to play. I arrived at Roland Garros in good shape and also played the best Wimbledon in the last three years, it helped that the knees felt much better. And in the summer the wrist injury happened. Injuries in the middle of the season are terrible. The others go on competing and you go against the flow. The worst part of the wrist injury was that I had worked very hard to get back to the highest level, and that I had fully regained my confidence, the calm, the mental tranquility, the passion. And this happened to me at a moment when I was going upwards.Q. So many pains…
A. I am always trying to get over the problems that my career and life are putting in my way, but I am human, I have up moments, down moments.Q. Why do you continue?
A. Not everybody has the chance to do what they love. It is important to be happy with what you do, not just do what makes you happy. That is a great virtue. For many years I have done what I like, which is playing tennis, and I’ve been happy, but I have also put in a great deal of effort from a very young age on to achieve what I have achieved. Tennis is my passion.Q. The many breaks have given you the chance to think of other things. Federer and Djokovic, your great rivals, have become parents. And you, when?
A. I am very much a family person. I love children. My dream and my intention is to have more than two children, but nowadays it is a matter of timing, preference, how life plays out. I am still living with my parents…Q. Well, it is about time!
A. Without having a stable life, everything is a little bit more complicated. It is also necessary to know the mentality of Mallorcans, who are very much family people, and be lucky enough to find a partner who understands you and goes along with your way of thinking. I have been that lucky. My partner has never put pressure on me for anything that could alter what I think is the best for me, for my career and for our relationship. My girlfriend is younger than me. She also has to work, to look for her personal motivations, and luckily her personal motivation has not been to be the girlfriend of Rafael Nadal, but to be herself and to be competitive in what she does, which is to study.Q. During your break the appointment of Gala Leon was also announced. How do you assess it?
A. I cannot assess it because I had not been asked about it. When things are done without asking, it is better not to assess. It is obvious that the president [JoséLuis Escañuela] and Gala herself, who is the sporting manager, have the power to make her captain without our input. It seems legitimate because it is within the rules. Is it logical? I do not know if it is logical or not, but some things have been done that had never been done. Some will like it more, others will like it less, but it is what has been chosen. A different thing is the absurd debate generated around that, the issue of sexism. It is really difficult to be able to give an opinion on things when the public is only looking for an absurd controversy, a nonsense controversy, and taking advantage of a controversy that in this case does not exist. I prefer not to say a single word that can be taken out of context on a subject that is so sensitive, since it is being used with a purpose. To me, it does not seem correct to use that route with that purpose, but I will leave it there.Q. Are you referring to the phrase “I will not apologize for being a woman” said by Leon?
A. I am not going to enter into a confrontation by answering Gala. Everyone says what he/she wants. What happens is that I do not know if anyone has ever demanded of her to apologize for being a woman. I am not aware of it. If you do not ask me a particular thing and I talk about it, it is because I am the one who wants to say it.(translated by Chris Boardman)
Photo: alejandro ruesga