Rafa Nadal's Ideal World


Rafa Nadal's Ideal World

By Sebastián Fest (dpa) | London | Sunday 19/06/2011

It is nine o'clock at night and Ana Maria is walking quickly along a wet and deserted Church Road. Dressed casually, moving with respect for the imposing silence that surrounds her, she looks in a hurry to reach her son's house, where once again he is cooking for the whole family. Fish and pasta are Rafael's two specialities and until now nobody has complained about his qualities as a 'chef'. After returning from his daily work, whenever he is not in the kitchen, the 25-year-old is to be found slumped on the sofa of the four bedroomed house watching the US Open golf on television.

The normal life of a well-to-do family in the suburbs of any great city, but a real exception in the life of world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal who usually lives from hotel to hotel and from restaurant to restaurant. "This is very different from what is usual. Here I manage to live a different life," explained the Spaniard, who tomorrow begins the defence of his Wimbledon title. "Something just as simple as stretching out on the sofa at night and being able to chat with your own folk. Eating out is very nice, but let's not delude ourselves, it's tiring always going to restaurants."

Used to luxury hotels appropriate to his megastar status in the sport, every year when he comes to Wimbledon Nadal enjoys that vibrant anachronism in which tennis meets its longest established traditions. During these days "Going to work" is simpler than ever. "I'm just 15 metres from the club!", he says with delight. His uncle and coach, Toni, who along with his physiotherapist, Rafael Maymo, is also staying at the house, puts the distance at 50 metres.

Whether it is 15 or 50, what is certain is that many players envy the Nadals. They go out of gate 16 at the All England Club, cross Somerset Road, and in less than a minute they have covered the distance from the players lounge at the tournament to their London home. "The house has a very important strategical advantage. As the hotels are far from here, when it rains, and that happens a lot, you have to spend all day at the club waiting to practise. With the house you don't, you can go to it and wait peacefully there," explained the player.

His uncle certifies that Rafa "knows how to cook", though he thinks it will be his mother, Ana Maria, who will be taking charge of that for a couple of days. Invited along with her husband, Sebastián, side by side with whom she watched their son's practise with Feliciano Lopez, the world number one's mother smiled as she commented on the "disordered" confusion of people that come and go at her son's house.

In any case, disorder means that it is the authentic Nadal here. Famous for the chaos in his hotel rooms, which more than once has meant he only just arrived in time for his flight because he could not find his passport, Nadal has arrived at Wimbledon in top form and with the self-confidence that comes from having won Roland Garros two weeks ago. "Last weekend I played the best two rounds of golf in my life," he said with a smile from ear to ear, revitalized by two days in Mallorca after losing in the Queen's quarter finals.

And, after at last publically confessing that he feels he is among the best players in history, the ambitions of Nadal, who makes his debut early tomorrow afternoon against the USA's Michael Russell, are logically high.
"Rafa has come here to try to win the tournament. I won't sign for just (reaching) the final. No, I won't sign for that," confessed Toni.
If he wins his third Wimbledon, Nadal will be on his way to repeating his 2010 season feat of winning three of the four Grand Slams.

"That would be a dream for me, but it's really impossible," said the player, 

getting back to his usual discourse: humility even over and above the facts. But his uncle has reasons to think that during the next two weeks he will be knocking on gate 16 over and over again.

"I think he's playing well, though in Paris he also practised well and then he played badly. (We'll find out) the truth, on Centre Court from Monday on."

SOURCE: Elmundo

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