'Nadalmania' hits Barcelona once again
The star's presence eclipses Ferrero's victory and Moya's defeat
By SERGIO HEREDIA - 25/04/2006
Barcelona.- After winning in Monte Carlo on Sunday afternoon, exactly as he did last year, when he travelled with his father and his uncle/trainer, Nadal got into a car and drove the 688 kilometers, all night on the highway, to reach Barcelona in six and a half hours early in the morning, go to bed for a short while, turn up at the Village at the Real Club de Tennis, fulfil his contractual obligations (this time to pose with the shirt that has been specially designed for him by Nike for the Open SEAT Conde de Godó tournament), have some more sleep and then appear on Court 18 later in the afternoon to hit for an hour with Tomeu Salva, another Mallorcan, another leftie. Everyone is after the 'wonder boy' : another bout of 'Nadalmania' has started once again in Barcelona and heady days lie ahead of him on the centre court in Pedralbes, where tomorrow he plays his first match against Feliciano Lopez. "I don't know why the advertisers come after me. Perhaps you had better ask them," he said yesterday, amid a sea of journalists, cameras, tape recorders and fans...
Attention and obligations were divided yesterday at the club. While some turned there attention to Nadal, others concentrated on the action on centre court where almost all the predictions were fulfilled (Almagro, Costa and Ferrero won but Moya lost), and yet others surrounded court one where some players of whom much is expected in the future were playing: Monfils and Murray, for example, defeated Galvani and Granollers respectively.
Compared with these two latter players, with Monfils, with Gasquet or with Murray, players of his own generation, Nadal is an extraordinary prodigy, according to foreign journalists, especially the French who have been analysing the matter for some time.
The way the respective players carry themselves both on and off the court is proof of this. While Murray and Monfils lower their voice, answer in monosyllables with no colloquial resources , Nadal is fluent and articulate, appears on television shows, gives press conference after press conference, gives satisfaction whenever he is asked, to whoever asks for another comment, another autograph, another smile...
"To start off with, my big opponent will be Feliciano," he said yesterday: a straight answer without any embelishment or double meanings, typical of someone with his feet firmly on the ground. Nadal has won 42 matches without loss on clay - he has not lost since April last year when Andreev beat him in Valencia - four short of Borg and eleven fewer than Vilas, he has defeated Federer in their two encounters in 2006, and he still maintains the same posture, calmly analyzing everything, never claiming special skill, never taking a match for won before it is played. "I suppose I've still got to improve a great deal, he insists. If at 19 I can't keep on improving, then that's a poor state of affairs....".
Nadal's future lies gloriously ahead of him, unlike Albert Costa's that will come to an end this week. "I don't know exactly when I'll be going," said the 30-year-old Costa after defeating Spadea (US). "But I do know that when I lose a match here, I will retire from competition. I would like to lose to my friend Alex (Corretja) or to Nadal, against someone that is meaningful for me. I don't suppose that will be easy." Costa took almost three hours to beat Spadea 7-6 4-6 6-1 in a not particularly noteworthy match. "You can't imagine how little fun I get these days out of throwing myself around a tennis court for two and a half hours," insisted Costa, who is excited about the future. "After this, I will only ever return to tennis as a veteran. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps."