French TENNIS MAGAZINE article on RAFAEL
Well some friends have asked me about a translation of the article published in our French Tennis Magazine of February 2005. It's been long but here it is. Hope you'll enjoy it. The Treasure Island
The article was written by Guy Barbier.
From his terrace, Rafael Nadal has a wonderful view over the Church of his native town of Manacor, on the Majorca Island. This tennis prodigy, aged 18, newest treasure among Spanish sportsmen and recent winner of the DC, lives there, in the familial "fortress" of the Nadal Clan. Here's a private visit of some great monument in its course of construction.
In Manacor, Rafael Nadal is the King. But in the Manacor Tennis Club, Rafael Nadal sweeps away himself the clay from the Center Court after he has finished training.
The training session has lasted for 4 and a half hours. On a beautiful december morning as Majorca Island is known to have during the whole wintertime. The sun is shining, 17°C. The coolness coming after a cloud has crossed the sky isn't strong enough to dry the skin of the frisky promising young athlete, streaming with sweat. For this session, which will be the last on clay before the AO begins, Rafael needed 2 sparring partners. Carlos Costa, former n°10, now agent at IMG, can't resist more than 1 hour and a half. Thanksfully, some good help comes in the person of the young Majorcan player Pedro Clar, aged 18, chaperoned by a French coach, Jérôme Adamec. On the court, supervising everything, stands also Toni Nadal, former player himself, Rafael's uncle as well as his lifelong coach.
Few backhands, most of the time he turns around and hit them forehand, but a forehand which spits out like a tommy gun. The balls are shooting up from the racket, handed as a wisp of straw by a left arm already so muscular that it irresistibly recalls the one of a former lefthanded hard training addict, the Argentine Guillermo Vilas. To cover the whole court on the other side, the 4 sparring partners aren't that numerous sometimes!
In Manacor, Rafael Nadal is the King. But in the Manacor Tennis Club, Rafael Nadal is the humblest of the workers. " Have you noticed how he remains silent, how he almost never makes fun, how he keeps focused all the time?", points out Jérôme Adamec. "He's always such when he's training. And later on, when he'll play some points against Pedro, he'll even be tougher."
On that specific day, Toni Nadal will yet have some criticisms to make, mostly one. "From the moment we have started counting points, Rafael has stopped hitting the way he used to hit before, he has held his shots, he got strained".
At the end of the session, serve and its bio mecanical principles have been mostly studied by the phenomenon and all the other present energies...
The scene seems rather unreal, young Hercules'tasks in the quietness of this 5 clay courts club, its padle pediment, its surrounding fields. It is yet situated at the very doors of the town, the 2nd biggest of the Balearic Islands, with its around 20.000 inhabitants...
In Manacor, Rafael is the King. But for all the city, he's "Rafa", the local child, being born there on 3rd June 1986.
" Rafael Nadal i Carlos Moya, campions de la Copa Davis 2004". The banderole was meant to be triumphal, on the previous evening, and the huge part of the town fellows had gathered on the Market Place. Official tribute paid to the 2 champions who had made America bend on its knee in the DC final in Sevilla. Nadal, Moya, the student and the teacher, the mentor and its protégé, both from Majorca and now Spain's heroes. A story quite too sweet for Palma, Carlos's town (who had just celebrated the duet) and for Manacor.
Rafael is though not the first to honour the name of Nadal in the sport field. Before him, his uncle Toni was one of the good Spanish players, but the indisputable star of the family remains Miguel Angel Nadal, who did most of his carrer as Barça's midfield player. Club he left in 1999, after spending 9 years of good and loyal game there, to end up among his origin team, the Real Majorca. Former international player, he was still in the national spanish team for the last World Cup in 2002. He even was captain when Hierro wasn't playing.
Miguel Angel (38)'s football player career has just stopped in June 2004. Still amazingly athletic, he enjoys his newest young retired freedom, coming and seeing Rafael playing as often as possible, and also regularly playing tennis, sport he was very good at before, that he even won the Balearic Islands Champion Junior title. "Rafael has also hesitated much between tennis and football", remembers Miguel Angel. " But when he has started winning all junior tournys, he got aware that he would get more success guaranties with tennis." "Plus", adds Miguel Angel, smiling, "there was another problem: in tennis you're alone to make the decisions, in football, it's the coach. And that, Rafael wasn't fond of".
When he was 12, tennis became its priority, but the nephew's passion for football was just undoubted. "When he was coming to see me play in Barcelona with his father, it was mostly to tell me about his own matches with the Island young team!"
Indeed, Rafael has found his public first among his relatives, numerous and joined together as one. " We have never left Majorca", says Miguel Angel. On his father's side Sebastien, Rafael Nadal has an aunt, Marilen, and 3 uncles: Toni; Rafael and Miguel Angel. Those last 3 have the roles of counsellors, sparring partners as well as playing pals... " Rafael was the first child of the family and he has been such for more than 5 years", explains Miguel Angel. "He was gifted for many activities. Everybody was constantly playing with him. He has made quick progress thanks to it".
Between school he left when he was 16- favourite subject being biology- his friends-"my bets friends are all from here" says Rafael- the sea which is only about 10 kms from Manacor, fishing, one of his favourite hobbies- on what he describes as his "little 8 meters long small boat"- football and tennis, Rafael has had a happy, well balanced childhood, full of sport.
On a general level, it can be said that he has had all facilities at his feet, and this not only because, up to when he got 13, he has lived on the 2nd floor of the building situated right in front of the Tennis Club. The Nadal family indeed is known to be wealthy. Sebastien, his father, works in industry and owns a factory which is employing about 30 people, Vidrios Mallorca, which is specialized in windows isolation and double glazing.
On the so lovely Church Place of Manacor, 4 of the 5 better placed and better renovated buildings are Nadals' properties. A part of the clan lives in one of them. On the 1st floor, the grandparents, Rafael and Isabel. On the 2nd floor, Toni, his wife and his 3 daughters. On the 3rd floor, Rafael's parents, Sebastien and Anna Maria. The 4th as well as the 5th floors are Rafael and his sister Maria Isabel's domain. From his terrace, Rafael has a direct and magnificent view onto the Church, an 18th century splendid edifice. He can keep on admiring it while making muscle development exercises in his gym room with big wide panoramic windows (around 2 weekly sessions of half an hour, which he has started only in 2004). His bedroom, total twin of his sister's, situated right beside his, is small and perfectly in order. The bed, on which sits a big cuddle toy, is narrow, not over 1m large. Not that easy to picture his 1.86m and his 86 kgs inthere!
A poster of the "Petits As" tournament is on good place. In the middle of some shelves stands the silver copy of the DC trophy. Never in all tennis history a so young player had made his this mythic thing.
" Of course, that's my favourite", says Rafael "but then, that's this one", he adds, taking another cup. He explains "1995 Balearic Islands less than 12 championships. I was 8".
One can so easily imagine the precious cosyness, material as well as affective, that Rafael finds when he comes back home from one of his numerous international trips. Moving from only one floor makes him vistit a big part of the family, and if he wants to rest himself, he can still use the elevator!
About 15 minutes away by car from the Church of Manacor, in the lovely little sea shore of Porto Cristo, the Nadal family is as well organized. No need to search for long, all the houses which are overviewing the bay are theirs. The most impressive one, the 1st above the beach, is Miguel Angel's, who lives there the entire year. His parents'one is situated right besides, and it is so well overviewing the cliff that sometimes, he's used to fishing from there!
In Manacor, the Nadals are the Kings. But if they know how to live alltogether, they also know how to share their common goals, which was one of the success secrets for Toni. Thus, he is associated to his brother Sebastien in the factory, also to Miguel Angel in the ownership of one of the most reputed and lovely restaurants from the place, and they even have joined together for the project of some commercial complex in Palma.
" When we face a problem, or when decisions have to be made, we get together, talk about it and that's settled", says Toni.
But of course, the most prestigious and fragile plan of the Nadal family, which will soon see the birth of its 13th child- when Marilen will have given birth to her 3rd- is related to Rafael's tennis. There, from the very first days, and even though he knows where to ask for advice, the only reference remains Toni. The familial links haven't prevented him from teaching his protégé about the sacred hard work and fighting spirit values. Without forgetting about getting them more "spicy" with some very well appropriate personal views.
" When you've reached a certain level, you don't embarass yourself with technique anymore. It's been a long time since I last told Rafael <<hit your backhand that way or your forehand like that>>. What I say is, for example, <<I want your ball to be long and powerful>>. And that's all. It's up to him then to deal with the 2 criteria."
Many things remain uncertain in Rafael's future, though he has just entered DC's history, though he already is among the 50 best players- 51st at the end of 2004- and though he has been one of the only 6 players who have defeated Roger Federer in 2004.
Toni remembers about how he had noticed the very first warning sign that Rafael was outside the norm.
" Rafael had just won the international tournament of Auray, and he was to take part to the less than 14 Majorca Championships. Before this tourny, we had much worked on the going to the net and I had asked Rafael to use it during the match. He has lost the final while sticking to that rule. While we were driving back home, he has remained silent for quite a long time, obviously much disappointed. Then he has said to me <<if I had stayed behind along the line, I would've won!>>When I've realized that he had been able to risk losing a final by respecting our training rules, I knew that he'd become very strong. The young players who can act that way aren't that numerous."
At the end of his 4 hours training session and of the time given to TM, Rafael Nadal has reminded his mother Anna that he was totally starving and that she should hurry to cook him something to eat.
Though he's the King in Manacor, Rafael doesn't fly in private jets. And the plane that should lead him from Palma to Madrid in the end of the afternoon won't wait for him. On the other hand, more than 65 000 people were counting on him and on some other stars like M. Schumacher, that same evening in the Santiago Barnabeu Stadium, to take part to the charity football match organized to raise funds for the fight against poverty, between "Ronaldo's friends" and "Zidane's friends". Rafael entered the match while it was already well started, in the Brazilian team. Final score: 4/4
That's another reason why Rafael hasn't chosen football: no match ends in a draw in tennis...
Best of LUCK to ALL my Faves in 2015