Rafa: 'I'm happy playing & without tennis'


"I'm happy playing tennis. I am happy not playing tennis"

- "Those who are in privileged positions should give back to others"
- "When I wake in the morning I think, what laziness"
- "I remember what I've earned, it is reality"

By MARTA IRRIGATION | January 2012

He's a killer oncourt and a pure gentleman off." Says the billionaire Richard Mille and speaks of his friend Rafael Nadal. Not a bad definition. On court says he becomes a robot: just think about winning the next point, there is nothing more. Outside he's affectionate with his family, joking, and with strangers, quite shy.

Check it at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. It's a charity event to raise funds for schools that have built the Rafa Nadal Foundation . Nadal knows he is there for a good cause, but hates flashes and social events, acting with discipline. Saluda, signing autographs, smiling. Like a robot. It is noted that making an effort. To stumble along until we get rescued from their fans. He greets me briskly. It is solid, big hands, strong, furrowed with veins bulging. Powerful thighs. The enigmatic face, and carved with an ax.

You are a hero to many people, I say. "No. I am a person, living things with great passion. I am deeply involved in everything I do." 
Who is your hero?
I have, I admire the good people, people helping others.
Do you think you should set an example?
Those who are in privileged positions should give something to others. So we created the Rafa Nadal Foundation. No, I don't have to set an example. I have to do what I think is right.
Doing the right thing is almost a mantra for Rafa. He says taking air and forcing the voice. He raises an eyebrow in a gesture repeated often.
Have you been lucky in your winnings or hard work?
There are people who work like me and do not succeed.
We pause for a couple who is listening with concentration on the next table, he asks, please, a photo. Meanwhile, Rafa's entourage that accompanies him everywhere, was distributed throughout the room. His agent, Carlos Costa, his press chief, Benito Perez Barbadillo, his father, Sebastian, also see Albert Costa, the captain of the team that won the Davis Cup final, and many other faces you know. But among all include three women, his mother Anna Maria, his sister Maribel and his girlfriend, Xisca Perello. Xisca and Maribel are a bit remote and out of focus, two girls who look like mere spectators, black hair loose, brown skin, bright eyes. But Anna Maria moves into huddle huddle with ease and a perennial smile. Before starting the interview she chatted a moment, he asks me for my work and listen to me very interested. She is the soul behind the Foundation, its president, its engine. And judging by what I see, also in part the secret motor of his son.
I ask Rafa who most influenced him.
Nobody in particular, there are many people around who helped me, who has been always supporting me, I can not appoint someone, it would be unfair. Obviously, Toni [Costa] has been a big help. Also my father, my mother, my family, friends, sister.
What is the best advice you have received?
My father told me that the easiest thing in this world is copying. He said: 'Copy what you think is right'. You're right, inventing is more complicated, it is easier to copy.
Have you applied this to your game or life?
Can be applied to everything. Luckily I have met many people and learn things from each. I always take the good in every person.
Rafa's answers are not as short as one would expect from someone who is not accustomed to playing with words but with the muscles, which is a kind of technical or, rather, a senior engineer of tennis. He knows everything about the technique inside out, on the weaknesses and strengths of their rivals. Clamorous victories and defeats on fought until the last second. Pain on the track, has suffered back problems, shoulder injuries, knee tendinitis, sore feet and other horrors during virtually his entire career. And the pain off the track, when his parents split up temporarily in 2009, he himself has acknowledged that his play was affected. I'm talking to one of the best players in history, current number two ranking in the ATP , with ten Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold medal in 2008, a record number of Masters titles, and so on. His list of successes since its first official competition to nine years is too long to include in any report. And yet, it also has a list of losses, and now, at the top are those that have suffered against its greatest enemy, who has seized the number one, the Serbian Novak Djokovic.
What has been your most painful defeat?
Much more than one ... It is difficult to pinpoint one in particular. There are some that leave me more touched.
And the victory you have most enjoyed?
The Roland Garros win in 2006 because I came from an injury, or winning the 2004 Davis Cup. But the game I remember with most excitement was the 2008 Wimbledon against Roger Federer.
Do you remember the victories over the defeats?
Yes, the sport is at the end wins. You remember what you've earned, it's reality.
You said that this year your goals were not to beat Djokovic or return to number one, but to surpass yourself.
No, of course I want to beat Djokovic and be number one. But that does not depend on me alone, since the others are very good, I have to try and I've done my whole life is to beat myself. If this applies to me to surpass others, well, I'm not going to change. I always want to go beyond what I've gone that day, be a little better, and is not thinking or Djokovic or Federer, but in yourself. That's what gives you satisfaction. When you win you wonder why you got there.
Then you are your greatest enemy.
No, they are rivals, without a doubt (laughs).
You said yourself that you are in tennis a few years and knows that will not be happy after.
(He looks at me raising an eyebrow).
What I will not be happy then?
Yes, I said.
No. Maybe what I said in English and explained wrong or out of context. I might not have said it because I am a person who likes to do many things. I'm happy playing tennis, I'm happy without tennis. I have many friends, many interests. Tennis is an important part of my life, but in the future there will be other things that I produce motivation. I have my concerns and my goals ... otherwise it would be a lot (laughs).
How will undertake anything as demanding as in tennis?
I will be equally demanding, obviously I will take things more calmly. I understand life in a way: if I do something I want to do well. Any nonsense, how to organize something with my friends, I do my best. I do not understand life any other way, do not enjoy doing the wrong things.
What do you think when you wake up in the morning?
I do not believe you.
Like everyone, I can hardly get up and go to train. Some days you wake up with more enthusiasm. Of course it is best to get up with enthusiasm, with the right attitude.
And your last thought before sleep?
No, I fall asleep with the TV (laughs). I see a number of series at night, and my father or my mother turn off the TV at three in the morning. If I start over thinking about the things in my bed ...
We ended the interview and a small splash weapon. People gathered for a closer look, to touch. He signs autographs with a lot of education and professionalism. Then we go to a salon where they serve a buffet with (fiduciary, pata negra ham0, Mediterranean delicacies. And the circle of friends Rafa takes up almost half of the room. You hear laughter, I see hugs, including touching, joking. It makes me feel that it is a show, it seems real. It seems that, really, everyone likes to Rafa. A boy with a point of fragility. A boy who, it sounds absurd, just want to protect. And that, that's what truly makes him a hero.

"A killer on the track and a pure gentleman out."

Source: VanityFair 
Translations: Google, with minor adjustments ..Rafaholics 
Thanks to Lisa for linking me.

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