So Rafa gave a 3 hour live interview on Mallorcan TV last night in which many aspects of his career appear to have been discussed. They had stars like Casillas, Gasol, Contador, Rudy Fernandez etc. call up and talk about Rafa and also had journalists and young tennis players asking him questions. Unsurprisingly Djokovic came up a lot and I thought Rafa made some rather interesting comments reported by a few papers today.
Disclaimer: I don't speak Catalan/Mallorquin so don't know how what he actually said & the credit of the translation is to a user on another forum.
The tennis player of Manacor took part in an interview of almost three hours at the Manacor Theatre where he criticized the way Djokovic burst onto the tour but added that the Serbian "has been able to improve"
The Mallorcan tennis player Rafa Nadal attended yesterday a special edition of the show Golèmica broadcast by TV IB3 from the Manacor Theatre and stated on camera that "Djokovic arrived on the tour the wrong way, with a desire for the limelight." The Balearic player clarified that the Serbian "has been able to improve" and that "it’s now and not before that this limelight belongs to him. He knows that he was wrong at the time," explained Nadal, who also reminded that the Balkan player "has a good heart."
Rafa spent almost three hours sitting on the podium and reviewing many aspects of the current sports situation. He spoke with Rudy Fernández, Pau Gasol, Alberto Contador and Jorge Lorenzo, and shared the podium with the RCD Mallorca player Víctor Casadesús and with the journalist Tomeu Terrace, who has been following the Manacori player from the beginning of his tennis career.
Nadal called for more recognition of all the athletes attending the Olympic Games and criticized the fact they do not get the reward they deserve and that "not even the gold medal is real gold." Also he confessed to being superstitious in a way: "I follow some stupid rituals before matches. Surely it’s useless but I do it."
The world number two of the tennis ranking exchanged a few words with Alberto Contador: "Contador has my full support" reminded Nadal who recommended to the winner of the Tour [de France] to "train, come back and win" in order to silence the critics.
Finally he spoke of the thrashing that RCD Mallorca gave to Villarreal and of its meaning: "I am not in favour of revenge or resentment, so I only prefer the importance of a victory and of three points," hoping that the island team retains its league status.
The statement about having a good heart is pretty nice and it was clear at the time that Nadal didn't think too much of the impressions etc. - in fact a lot of the tour didn't seem to like it. Another article quote the Djokovic statement slightly differently: "Novak came on to the tour always wanting to be the protagonist and he made a mistake. Now he is the protagonist (for the right reason) for his triumphs."
That's Novak's personality I guess but there's no doubting Rafa respects his achievements now. It's also interesting that he says "he knows he was wrong at the time" as if it's something they've discussed.
More on Novak in this article:
Rafa Nadal was the star of IB3's programme 'Golèmica', with the set moved on this occasion to the Teatre de Manacor, where he went over recent months and received the support of friends like Pau Gasol, Alberto Contador, Iker Casillas and Jorge Lorenzo. His most 'heartfelt' words were with the cyclist from Pinto: "thank you. Two times, three times over.. You have my total support, I've already told you in private. What you have to do is come back and win, give them all a lesson."
How many times had he gone back over the Australian final? "Very few because it left me very content. And I'm a good loser, I accept my defeats with calm and perspective and, if it is possible, in the most positive manner. I managed to make an advance in my confrontations with Djokovic, I left Australia with positive sensations both about my tennis and the mental aspect. I was closer to him in Melbourne but I don't know if I'm closer to beating him. There are eras, I prevented him from doing things in the past and he's preventing me now. I don't think about him, though, but about myself getting better," he explained. He described the AO final as: "together with the 2005 Rome final against Coria, the toughest match I've ever played. The two of us finished up in a really bad way and I was concerned because after all the fuss that was made at the US Open about the cramps I had at the presser, I was scared it would happen again."
Nadal declared "I've never believed in luck but rather in the spirit of overcoming difficulties, of fighting, and that sport depends on little details. The merit is totally Djokovic's because he has maintained a high mental, physical and tennis level for so long." He considers the only way to advance is "to play to win, assuming risks. Keep on in the same line of play, intensity and aggression. Then I can aim for the maximum."
The Davis Cup does not figure among his objectives at the moment. He is not considering, for the moment, returning to the DC team for the quarterfinal in April, contrary to what his uncle Toni said on this same programme last week. "I think Toni got ahead of himself. I have two Masters 1000 lined up to play and it's a long way away. Could I play? Yes. Could I not play? That too. I don't even know myself," he admitted. He also described all his on-court rituals as "stupid, yes, I don't think they help me but when I do them I feel I'm competing, that I'm concentrating on what I'm doing."
Rafa does not just want to compete at the London 2012 Olympics. It has been rumoured he is one of the candidates to carry the flag at the opening ceremony. "I would love to, it'd be a great honour. But it's difficult (because traditionally it goes to the athlete with most gold medals). If I'm not the one, I'll march behind the flag equally happily. I hope they're not my last Olympic Games. Tha gold medal was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. But best of all is the experience of living in the Olympic Village, sharing with all the other athletes who are there," he explained before pointing to sport, in these difficult times of crisis, as being a means, thanks to our successful results, of "facing them with more happiness, optimism and 'illusión'."
Other interesting things: he may play mixed doubles at the Olympics if he loses first round in the singles and mens doubles.
(Didn't know you could leave it that late!) I thought it was interesting he said he hopes they're not his last Olympics - the idea of being around in 2016 is not alien to him then despite most people giving him another two/three years on tour after 2012...