Rafael ‪#‎Nadal‬: I take my hat off to Roger Federer


Photo: Soland Benjamin
Interview: Cécile Klotzbach
Translations: Chris Boardman for Rafaholics

The great interview with Rafael ‪#‎Nadal‬: I take my hat off to Roger

What he thinks about about his relationship with Roger and their rivalry, what his future has in store for him and where he spends his spare time away from the tennis courts.

BLICK: Rafael Nadal, you mostly seem content, even if it is not always easy for you. Are you ever sad or frustrated?

RN: it is not in my nature to be sad. Something serious has to happen. The people who surround me give me good advise, stability and positive energy.
Have you ever broken a racket?

No, never. Sometimes I throw rackets for show during practice. I think this has never happened in my career. I am happy about that as it means that I have good self control and can accept that I am not always the best. Humility means that you understand that others are better than you.

What do you do if you get frustrated?

I weigh everything up and realize that despite some tough times during my career - injuries that were hard to accept for example - I have been able to experience many fantastic things, things that other players have not been able to experience. The reality is that my career has given me more than I could have ever dreamed off.

You are showing positive emotions in Basel. How important is a win for you here?

First and foremost it would be good for me personally. I want to win matches here as it is one of the last tournaments of this year for me. After all that has happened in the second half of this year it is even more important to finish the season with a better feeling and more trust in myself.

Is it special for you to compete in Federer-Land?

Absolutely. It is nice to see how the people respect you in the country of your rival. When Roger comes to Madrid he feels the love of the Spanish fans. That's because he is a good person, a fantastic player and a gentlemen on the court. But also because during his entire career I have always talked positively about him in the media. And he has done the same for me.

But the rivalry remains...

Because of our mutual respect for each other our rivalry has always been a positive one and has hopefully served as a good example for young players. I appreciate it a lot and think that we can be proud of it.

You are famous for your rituals on the court, lining up bottles, avoiding lines, picking at your clothes. What do you get out of it?

They have become a habit during the years of the pressure of the sport. It is silly, a weakness. But if I don't do them it means that I am not 100% present. But pay attention sometime: they are not always the same rituals. I always come up with something new to help me concentrate and focus.

What's next?

Hopefully nothing else.

Has you relationship with Toni Nadal changed over the years?

More than my coach he is my uncle. Like all relationships the one to Toni has evolved over the years as well. When I was three years old my relationship to my dad was different from what it is today too! That's the same with Toni.

Can you imagine a different coach in the future?
No. If my uncle ever has enough it would be fine with me. I would thank him for everything he has done for me and that would be it. Two of Toni's three children play tennis as well and train a lot. If he ever wanted to be more involved with them I would understand.

Would you hire a legend in that case? John McEnroe is still available...
To be honest I don't think much will change in my career. I have never fired someone on my team and it will remain that way.

Family is important to you - when will you start your own?
I see myself with more than two children. But I don't want to start a family before my tennis career is over - unless destiny has other plans.

You can't imagine a life like Federer's, being a father while on the Tour?
That's a question of mentality. Everybody has a different lifestyle - I still live with my parents. These are just two different perspectives on life. Roger met his wife a long time ago. I have known my girlfriend for a long time as well but we function differently. Xisca works and wants to continue, I live my life. It works well for both of us, we are happy. She is a bit younger than me so we don't need to take the next step this year, next year, or the year after.

Is it not difficult to not see each other that much?
No. It works for us. I am happy I have a girlfriend who understands my life, my goals and my current priorities. And I understand her priorities. If it was any different we could not live this life. But the right timing exists for everyone - and it does not always have to be the same for everyone. Who knows, maybe one day we will no longer go into the same direction but at the moment it does not look that way.

This time she came to Basel with you.
Yes, but she has left already.

Is Tiger Woods still your big idol?
Yes, he is my favorite, I love Tiger Woods! He is a fighter, a winner, he puts his life and soul into golf. I admire his style during competition. He is an important, big sportsman.

What is your handicap now?

It is 3,6 - and is therefore higher than my current level. (laughs) You can imagine that I have not been able to play a lot of golf these past four months because of my wrist problem.

You like to fish. What was your biggest catch?

I caught a tuna this summer. Two years ago I had an 8 pound perch on my fishing line. Yes, I love to fish, I live on an island after all, on Mallorca. I cannot imagine a life without the ocean. That's why I have to boats, a fishing boat and one for fun. I take the opportunity to go out whenever I can.

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