SI Players lobs to Rafael Nadal just before the Open
As told to Richard Deitsch
ON HIS MANY NICKNAMES IN THE PRESS SUCH AS GLADIATOR, WONDER BOY, GERONIMO, HERCULES
I prefer Rafael. But just call me whatever you like.
ON HIS HOMETOWN OF MANACOR, ON THE MEDITERRANEAN ISLAND OF MAJORCA
It's a very small village. Everybody knows each other. I live by the sea and during the summer I go to the beach, play golf, watch movies and fish. In the first week of August I went out tuna fishing with Carlos Moya and I caught 12 fish!
ON LEARNING ENGLISH
I don't take classes very often because I'm always abroad. My English is not good right now, but I have the courage to speak and that is a big thing for me. English is not a hard language to learn. It's just a matter of practice. I also understand a bit of Portuguese and a bit of Italian but I don't speak them.
ON READING FOR RELAXATION
A few months ago I finished La Tapadora [John Grisham's The Partner] and I just read La Ciudad De Las Bestias [The City of the Beasts] by Isabel Allende. At the moment I'm not reading anything. Too busy.
ON WHAT THE LEFTY PLAYER DOES WITH HIS RIGHT HAND
Everything, except tennis. I write, play golf and eat with my right hand. I don't know why this is. Moya is the other way around. He is a righty in tennis but does everything else with his left hand.
ON HIS FLASHY OUTFITS
I don't have anything to do with the design. Nike gave me some pants to try on. I said I liked them and so I played with them. The look and outfit feels normal to me.
ON HIS MUSIC CHOICES
I like Latin music like Maná and Alejandro Sanz. Right now I'm listening to The Best of Me, the greatest hits of Bryan Adams. I like this very much.
ON WHAT STROKE HE WOULD STEAL FROM ANOTHER PLAYER
Roger Federer's forehand. It's the best.
ON HIS FAVORITE U.S. CITIES
New York and Miami. New York a little more because it seems more spectacular. The city itself, the buildings, the general city atmosphere. Espectacular.
ON HOW HIS LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE WINNING MAY'S FRENCH OPEN
Not much. My friends are the same. When I go back to my city, I do the same thing with the same people.
ON HIS COMFORT ON HARDCOURTS
I made the finals in Miami and the fourth round in Australia, so I don't play so badly on hardcourt. But, obviously, I don't feel as comfortable as I do on clay. I don't look at goals for the U.S. Open. I know I have to be at my best level to play well there.
ON WHOM HE WATCHED GROWING UP
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. They are the players I most remember from when I was small. And of course Spanish players like Moya.
ON LIVING WITH HIS MOM AND DAD AND UNCLES
There's nothing bad about living at home. I have a family that I get along with very well. The time I get to be at home, I value a great deal because I'm not there much.