05-02-2005, 08:55 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
In case you haven't seen this article:
Fearless Nadal leads new wave of teenage talent
By Mark Hodgkinson
Up close, he looks far smaller, like a kid. Rafael Nadal has hidden those biceps of his under a sweatshirt, and is remarkably shy, perhaps a little awkward. When his mobile phone starts a sudden and loud beeping, he sits up straight in his chair, waving his arms in profuse apology. Nadal is hardly the brute he looks on court.
In with a shout: Rafael Nadal is a favourite for the French Open
The attention is clearly not changing Nadal, the teenage wonder of men's tennis. He wants to ensure that he is "not too snobby or anything", and it seems that this unstarry behaviour might have been inspired by the most unlikely of people. His mentor has been his uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, the former Spanish centre-back who delighted in his nickname "the Beast of Barcelona".
Nadal can be so aggressive on the court, so totally uncompromising that he flattened more experienced clay-courters to win his first Masters Series title in Monte Carlo at the weekend. But it seems that he has acquired more from "the Beast" than a blood-lust in competition, limitless energy and a talent for inciting the crowd (footballers are charged, tennis players praised).
"My uncle is a very important person for me - he has helped me keep my feet on the ground," Nadal said. "He has been a big part of my family and my life because he was the first professional sportsman in the family. He is a very calm guy and knows how to keep everything balanced, and he makes sure that I do not get carried away with myself."
Nadal is now in the bizarre situation of being rated as one of the leading prospects for the French Open, the second grand slam event of the season, without having even stepped on to the clay of Roland Garros for anything other than a one-day coaching clinic for his sponsors. His level-headedness may become a considerable advantage.
"The Beast" has undoubtedly been the dominating influence on Nadal's sporting life. Miguel Angel's brother, Toni, coaches Rafael, or "Rafa" as he is known by other players in the locker-room. "Of course I really liked tennis when I was younger, but I didn't like watching too many matches. Football was much better. I didn't have tennis heroes," he said.
"The Beast" also plays a decent game of tennis. Nadal's breakthrough at the Masters Series came in the Miami final earlier this month, when he came within two points of beating Roger Federer, the world No 1, and it has been said that his only warm-up game was against his uncle. Not bad for a player who missed a penalty kick against England during Euro 96.
Family is clearly important for the Nadals. "It gives me more satisfaction as an uncle than as a coach to watch Rafa play like this," Toni has said. "All his life, since he started to play at three years old, he has always had this aggressive style of play. And that is why he is so spectacular now."
Nadal has some unorthodox ambitions, coming as he does from a nation of out-and-out baseliners who learn their tennis on clay courts. He wants to win Wimbledon, the grass-court grand slam. Nadal loves an adventure, a few trips to the net, and unlike some of his compatriots, it does not look as though he is wearing a pair of oven gloves when he attempts to play a volley.
"I love the atmosphere at Wimbledon and the grass," Nadal said. "I want to win Wimbledon, but it might be difficult with my style of tennis. I hope to improve my serve and volley." He showed on the Miami cement, in that epic of a final against Federer, that he can adapt his aggressive brand of tennis to all surfaces.
Teen spirit and talent abounded in Monte Carlo. It was "a beautiful week" for Richard Gasquet, the 18-year-old and totally fearless French qualifier who sent Federer crashing into the baseline dust in the quarter-finals. The toughest match for Nadal last week was the semi-final against Gasquet, who strikes his single-handed backhand with such pace, freedom and verve. "Gasquet has a great future," Federer said.
Nadal also encountered Gael Monfils, an 18-year-old with charisma, energy and far more power than his long, loose limbs would suggest (only his taste for American hamburgers might stop him). The French teenager loves nothing more than to engage the crowd with slightly cartoonish, totally overdone celebrations. The remonstrations are even better. Monfils loves his theatre, as all of this generation do.
Monfils won three of the four junior grand slams last season. The only one to escape was the junior version of the US Open, which was won by Andrew Murray, the Scottish teenager with so much hope invested in him. But it would be grossly unfair to start making comparisons between these fast-tracked teenagers and Murray. Players mature, and regress, at different rates.
Murray is, at 17, a year younger than the other three, and it is only today that he will make his first appearance on the ATP Tour, with a wild card into the clay-court event in Barcelona. Murray has time. He recently broke into the world's top 400, and will play Jan Hernych, a top-100 player from the Czech Republic.
Boris Becker, who was a Wimbledon champion at 17, believes that Nadal is the leader of the new generation. "Nadal has such great attitude, you can tell that he loves to compete," Becker said. "Young players have to want to go out into a big stadium and play in front of thousands of fans. If you don't enjoy that, then you might as well give up and become a clerk in a bank."
18 April 2005: Nadal's masterful display on the clay
05-10-2005, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
an interview from Hamburg...
RAFAEL NADAL: "NO PUEDO GANARLO TODO DURANTE CADA SEMANA"
Humeante su triunfo en el Masters Series de Roma, Rafael Nadal viajó a Hamburgo sólo para que el médico de la ATP certificara su abandono del Masters germano, a causa de una dolorosa ampolla en la mano izquierda. Hoy regresará a Palma, donde velará armas antes de afrontar Roland Garros.
De una noche ardiente en Roma, al abandono en Hamburgo, en sólo horas. ¿Cuál es la explicación?
Es una de las peores cosas que me ha podido ocurrir y una de las peores noticias, pero mi mano empeora cada día. Es una ampolla que se está abriendo, se va convirtiendo en corte y tengo que parar completamente al menos durante tres días. Si jugaba aquí, me iba a causar problemas. No hubiera estado al 100%, y para eso, mejor no jugar. Si digo que es una de las peores cosas que me ha podido ocurrir, es porque sólo hay tres Masters Series sobre tierra, mi superficie favorita. Hamburgo es uno de ellos y aquí jugué muy bien en 2003.
Volvamos a Roma. ¿Qué se piensa durante una final tan épica como la del Foro Itálico, y cuando la última volea de Coria se marchó larga? ¿Se piensa en la derrota, en qué cosas...?
Ufff...claro que pensé que podía perder: si no, hubiera sido tonto perdido.. Ya ve: 0-3 abajo en el quinto set, y luchando para no verme 0-4 o 1-4, con golpes al límite. Bueno, pues el último punto fue muy largo, con golpes que van y vienen, hasta que le tiro el último al cuerpo, y esa volea se va. En ese momento, no pienso nada, no me creo nada. Me quedo tumbado, me parecía increíble.
Tuve cantidad de compromisos, hasta que ya casi de medianoche, en el hotel, pude analizar el partido con mí tío Toni y mi agente Carlos Costa. Me fui a la habitación, y como no podía dormir con la adrenalina, me tuve que poner a jugar con la Playstation. Al final, acabé durmiendo un rato, pero puse el despertador temprano, tenía claro que no se me podía escapar el desayuno. Desayunaba... o moría.
(Durante el diálogo, ante más periodistas, en una "suite" junto a la pista central del Rotherbaum Club, Nadal devora un plato tras otro: "rosbif", gambas y fresas).
Vamos a la pregunta que todo el mundo se hace. ¿Aguantará el fenómeno Nadal este tirón endemoniado hasta ganar Roland Garros en partidos a cinco sets? ¿O se quemará como una brasa?
Una de las razones por las que no podía dormir en Roma es que pensaba lo lejos que veía todo esto hace cinco meses... y me veía como ahora estoy entre los diez primeros del mundo: esas cosas no se olvidan y quedan para la historia, para tu satisfacción personal. Dicho esto, creo que el plan de trabajo físico que hicimos en la pretemporada va funcionando a la perfección: mi físico me está ayudando y va respondiendo. Ahora voy a descansar dos semanas. Si no gano Roland Garros, no será por el desgaste físico, sino porque tenga que pasar. No será porque esté mal físicamente, sino porque no puedo ganarlo todo, todos los torneos, todas las semanas. No he jugado tantos torneos, sólo que he llegado a las finales y parece que juego mucho más.
No se va a replantear nada, entonces...
No: no me tengo que replantear nada, no porque una ampolla me haga abandonar en Hamburgo. Yo estoy bien físicamente. Cansado un poco, lo normal tras un partido de cinco horas y cuarto. Pero ojalá tuviera que parar por ganar demasiadas veces, como le pasa a Federer.
¿Le asusta la 'Nadalmanía'? Va siendo un crack mediático casi como uno de los galácticos de "su" Real Madrid o su admirado Fernando Alonso...
No me asusta, porque no veo eso. Sigo viviendo igual y disfrutando cuando puedo hacer mis cosas de siempre, como jugar al golf o pescar. No me compararía con Alonso ni con ningún galáctico. Agradezco a mis seguidores que piensen eso, pero no es así. Soy un chico que empezó a jugar a tenis a los 14 años y que estaría muy sorprendido, por ejemplo, si ganara Roland Garros. Lo mejor que tengo es que lucho hasta el final. Hay gente que se rinde antes, eso es todo.
RAFAEL NADAL: I CAN'T WIN EVERYTHING EVERY WEEK
Hot from his triumph in the Rome Masters Series, Rafael Nadal travelled to Hamburg just so that the ATP doctor could authorise his withdrawal from the German tournament, because of a painful blister on his left hand. Today he'll return to Palma where he'll look after his weapons before facing Roland Garros.
From a blazing night in Rome to the withdrawal in Hamburg in just a few hours. How do you explain it?
It's one of the worst things that has happened to me and one of the worst pieces of news, but my hand is getting worse every day. It's a blister that's opening up, becoming more of a cut and I have to completely stop for at least 3 days. Playing here was going to cause me problems. I wouldn't have been 100% and so for that, it's best not to play. If I say it's one of the worst things that's happened to me, it's because there are only 3 Masters Series on clay, my favourite surface. Hamburg is one of them and I played very well here in 2003.
Let's go back to Rome. What do you think about during such an epic final like the one in the Foro Itálico, and when Coria's last volley was long? Do you think of the defeat? What do you think about?
Uff...of course I thought I would lose, if not, I'd have been stupid...You see, 0-3 down in the fifth set and fighting hard not to make it 0-4 or 1-4, with shots pushing the limit. Well, the last point was very long, with shots coming and going until I hit the last one to the body and that volley goes out. At that moment, I don't think of anything, I don't believe anything. I'm overwhelmed, it was incredible.
I had lots of commitments, until almost midnight, when in the hotel, I could analyse the match with my uncle Toni and my agent Carlos Costa. I went to my room, and since I couldn't sleep because of the adrenalin, I had to play the Playstation. I finally ended up sleeping a bit, but I set the alarm early. I made sure I didn't miss breakfast. I had to eat breakfast...or else I'd have died.
(During the interview, in front of lots of journalists, in a suite next to centre court at the Rothenbaum Club, Nadal devours plate after plate: roast beef, prawns, strawberries).
Moving onto the question that everyone's asking. Will the Nadal phenomenon be able to ride this wild wave until winning Roland Garros with best of 5 set matches or will it burn itself out like a hot coal?
One of the reasons I couldn't sleep in Rome was because I was thinking about how far away all this seemed 5 months ago...and I saw myself now, in the top 10 in the world: you don't forget those things and remain in history, for your personal satisfaction. Having said that, I think the physical work plan that we made in the pre-season is working perfectly: my physical state is helping and is responding to it. Now I'm going to rest for 2 weeks. If I don't win Roland Garros, it won't be because I'm worn out physically, but rather because it's destined to be that way. It won't be because I'm not well physically, but rather because I can't win everything, every tournament, every week. I haven't played that many tournaments, it's just that I've got to the finals and it seems like I'm playing a lot more.
So you're not going to be reconsidering anything...
No, I don't have to reconsider anything, not just because a blister forces me to withdraw from Hamburg. I'm good physically. A bit tired, which is normal after a match lasting 5 hours and 15 minutes. But I wish I could just stop because of winning too much, like what's happening with Federer.
Does 'Nadal mania' frighten you? You're like a media star like one of the "galacticos" from "your" Real Madrid or your idol, Fernando Alonso...
I doesn't frighen me because I don't see that. I keep living the same way and enjoying myself when I can do the things I always do like playing golf or fishing. I wouldn't compare myself with Alonso or with any of the Galacticos. I'm grateful that my fans think that, but it's not true. I'm a guy who started playing tennis at age 14 and would be very surprised, for example, if I won Roland Garros. My best asset is that I fight 'til the end. Some people give up earlier, that's it.
05-10-2005, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
Rafael's Interview after winning Roma
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. You must be absolutely thrilled with that performance today.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I am very happy. Is my second Masters Series. I played today one of the toughest match in my life. I am very happy because is a very important tournament for me, no.
Q. How did you get the energy to come back from 0-3 in the last set?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I think the public is very important for me because when I stay 3-0 in the -- 0-3 in the fifth, my energy is finish. But the public all the time apported (sic) me (laughing)... supported, supported me. For that, I can win the match.
Q. Did you think your chance had gone after the fourth set?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I think I can won in the fifth set, no? But he play very well the first three games, and I was a little tired. And if he play well and I am a little tired, it's normal he come to for 3-Love and the match is very difficult for me, no, with 3-Love in the fifth. But I can won. I can won thanks to the public.
Q. Which is more difficult: Playing for five and a quarter hours, or speaking English?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think play five hours, huh (smiling)? So I don't speak nothing English and I speak now, eh (smiling)?
Q. What was the problem with your hand? Was it a factor?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing. Only (showing his hand). You can see? The other one is the same.
Q. Was it a problem? Did you have difficulty to hold the racquet or what?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no.
THE INTERPRETER: It's a blister.
Q. What are you doing between now and the French Open?
RAFAEL NADAL: I go to Hamburg tomorrow. No, I will see tomorrow. But after Hamburg I have one week off, and after play Paris, no?
Q. In the tiebreaker, 6-5, matchpoint, and then you double-fault.
RAFAEL NADAL: Double-fault.
Q. Was that nerves (laughter)?
RAFAEL NADAL: Little. Little nervous, yes. I think about the ace in the first set -- in the first serve, but I don't have nothing ace today, no? But I think with the ace in the first serve, was out like this. And in the second serve, I can't, I can do nothing.
Q. How does this match compare to Davis Cup?
RAFAEL NADAL: The Davis Cup is different, no? But today is fifth set, is five sets, the same like Davis Cup, and against one of the best players in the world, no, in clay? And in Davis Cup always is difficult matches because you play against the best players in the world, too, no? But is different. Is different, the Davis Cup, to the rest of tournaments.
Q. When you go to Hamburg tomorrow, will you see how you will feel before you decide to play?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, yeah. I will see.
Q. More than ever, you are the favorite for Roland Garros. You don't agree, I suppose?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every time when I won a match I am favorite for Roland Garros, no? I don't know. I playing good, but after two weeks I don't know if I play the same like now, no? So the favorites of Roland Garros is the players when in Roland Garros play better, no?
Q. Were you close to cramping, do you think, in the fifth set?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, only in the toe.
End of FastScripts….
+ NADAL + GASQUET +
+ ANCIC + KIEFER + MATHIEU + GULBIS + FEDERER + ANDREEV + FERRER +
+ KARLOVIC + LLODRA + BENNETEAU + BERDYCH + ZIMONJIC +
peter polansky fangirl
05-12-2005, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
Would someone please translate this interview? Thank you in advance.
"NADAL ES ÚNICO, NO HE VISTO A NADIE COMO ÉL"
Andre Agassi, ya un gran veterano de 35 años, compareció en Hamburgo como un venerable padre de familia enamorado de sus dos hijos y de su esposa, Steffi Graf. A las primeras de cambio, Agassi cayó ante Feliciano López, pero antes respondió a cuestiones sobre el nuevo fenómeno: Rafa Nadal.
Le fue muy bien en Roma, pero el tiempo parece volar más rápido que sus deseos. ¿Qué le mueve a seguir jugando? ¿Hasta cuándo? ¿Aún se siente capaz de ganar a Federer?
Disfruto con los retos (la palabra exacta en inglés es "challenges" y Agassi va a pronunciarla infinidad de veces durante esta comparecencia: como hacía el Jordan de los últimos años)... y el mero hecho de seguir planteándome jugar bien contra los mejores, ya es un reto que me exige al máximo. Aún tengo ganas de afrontarlo, aunque es cierto que va siendo más y más duro. El tiempo está cada vez menos de mi lado. Y menos, con este clima tan frío de Hamburgo: cuando nos hacemos viejos...
¿Tan viejo, tan viejo se ve?
No, es que cuando hace en las pistas un frío como el de aquí, y se llega de otro torneo inmediatamente anterior, todo es más difícil si eres mayor. El que es mayor y está a la intemperie, lo sufre más que el que es joven. Y más aún con el paso del tiempo. Para mí es muy duro moverme y reaccionar bien en estas condiciones. Mi cuerpo no responde como el de los más jóvenes.
Viene del calor de Roma, donde se las tuvo tiesas con Coria y donde testificó la batalla del argentino con Nadal. ¿Qué le pasó con Coria?
Me quedé muy decepcionado con él por todo lo que pasó. Tuvo dos gestos inaceptables y ya lo dije allí mismo. Agitó el dedo diciendo que una bola mía se había ido fuera antes de que botara y después rodeó la marca y se marchó como si no hubiera más que hablar. Entiendo que se pueda cometer un error, pero no que una bola tan dudosa se dé como out con esa seguridad... y encima, antes de tiempo. Es una conducta inaceptable y no precisamente de agradecer. Son los jueces quienes deciden sobre bolas tan ajustadas.
(Tras esta jugada, con Agassi al servicio y 5-3 en el segundo set, Andre dio por buena una bola de Coria que el juez había cantado mala. Se repitió el punto y fue para Coria, que también acabaría llevándose este juego vital).
Después apareció el rayo de Nadal y carbonizó a Coria. Aquí llegamos todos: a Nadal.
Lo que está haciendo Nadal es increíble. Ya captó mi atención cuando le vi en Miami, y eso que no era su superficie predilecta. Ahora mismo es el favorito en cualquier torneo que se juegue sobre tierra batida. ¿Cuántos años tiene? ¿18, 19...?
Rafa tendrá 19 antes de un mes. ¿Le recuerda a alguien, por algo...?
No he visto nada semejante, nadie como él. Es único. Es rápido en todo lo que hace. Tiene manos rápidas, piernas rápidas, mucha velocidad en la bola. Es más difícil jugar contra él porque es zurdo. Y encima quiere ganar siempre, a toda costa. Verle jugar es una alegría. Da gusto.
Lleva usted, Andre, 20 años por las pistas del mundo, desde aquel debut de 1985, en los mejores días de John McEnroe e Iván Lendl. Tras la batalla terrícola de Roma entre Coria y Nadal, McEnroe, SuperMac, dijo que daba "gracias a Dios" por no tener que verse envuelto en partidos así, ante esos jugadores. Pero usted sigue...
Ahora he empezado a sentirme cómodo en la tierra batida y a pensar que puedo jugar bien ahí. En tierra, has de ser muy paciente. Hay muchas opciones que tomar en cada golpe. Si no estás adaptado, eso es lo más difícil que tiene jugar en tierra. Pero es una parte más del reto al que me refería antes, porque todo junto es algo muy duro de conseguir. Pero si lo haces, te deja muy satisfecho, porque sabes que es algo verdaderamente difícil. Aunque lo más difícil no es eso...
En este juego, eres lo que eres en la pista. Es difícil esconderse. No es lo que uno diga o lo que la gente diga de uno. O lo haces, o no lo haces. Si lo haces, disfrutas. Y no tengo mucho tiempo más para seguir disfrutando de estas sensaciones. Jugar torneos consecutivos a buen nivel nunca más será fácil para mí. En conjunto, lo que intento es responder a todos estos retos.
Hay una decisión, la de su retirada, que se antoja cercana. ¿Hasta qué punto su familia va a influir en que siga o no jugando?
Cuando estoy en Alemania, mi mujer decide cualquier cosa (risas)... pero, llegados a este punto, disfruto del tenis cada día y veo qué viene después. Mi familia sabe que el tenis es una parte muy grande de mi vida. De nuestra vida, diría. Sabe que ahora me lo tomo año por año. Cada año a su tiempo. No sé: aún tengo el deseo. Pero también está el tema de mi físico. Mi familia me apoya en todas mis decisiones. Lo que decidamos sobre el tenis, lo decidiremos juntos. Y será, sin duda, lo mejor para mí.
Después de esto, la explicación de su derrota ante Feliciano López cae por sí sola...
En esa pista (la central cubierta del Rothenbaum Club) hacía demasiado frío para mí, y no sólo se trataba ya de este asunto, sino del nuevo proceso de aclimatación tras llegar de Roma. Hay que darle crédito a López, que jugó un gran partido, pero a mí me costaba moverme y tenía problemas con la distancia y la penetración de los golpes. Me sentía vulgar, fuera de sitio. Fue muy duro.
Año por año: ése es el reto.
05-12-2005, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
ok, translated it for you...there's not that much about Rafa...but if you're also interested in Agassi, then you might like this...
"NADAL IS UNIQUE, I HAVEN'T SEEN ANYONE LIKE HIM"
Andre Agassi, now a great veteran at 35, looked like a venerable father in Hamburg, in love with his 2 children and his wife, Steffi Graf. In the first round, Andre fell to Feliciano Lopez, but before that, he answered some questions about the new phenomenon: Rafa Nadal.
You did very well in Rome, but time seems to fly by quicker than your dreams. What keeps you going on? Until when? Do you still feel capable of beating Federer?
I enjoy challengers...and the mere fact of keeping on seeing myself play well against the best is a very demanding challenge. I like to face up to it although it'll definitely become tougher and tougher. Time is increasingly not on my side. Let alone, with this cold climat in Hamburg: when we get older...
You see yourself as being so old?
No, it's just that when it's as cold on the court like it is here, and you arrive directly from the previous tournament, everything is more difficult if you're older. If you're older and weatherbeaten, you find it harder than the younger ones. And even more so as time goes on. For me, it's very hard to move and react well in these conditions. My body doesn't respond like the youngers ones' do.
You come from the heat of Rome where you put up a great fight against Coria and where you witnessed the Argentinia's battle with Nadal. What happened with Coria?
I was very disappointed with him for everything that happened. He had 2 unacceptable gestures and I said so there and then. He moved his finger saying one of my balls had gone out before it bounced and then he circled the mark and walked off as if there was nothing more to be said. I understand it's possible to make mistakes but not that a ball as dubious as that can be called out so surely...and even more so, ahead of time. It's unacceptable behaviour and I don't really appreciate it. It's up to the umpires to decide on those tight calls.
(After that point with Agassi serving 5-3 in the second set, Agassi called one of Coria's balls good that the umpire had called out. The point was replayed and Coria won it, and also ended up winning that vital game)
Then came the Nadal the ray of light who toasted Coria. So now we come to Nadal.
What Nadal is doing is incredible. He caught my attention when I saw him in Miami, which wasn't even his favourite surface. Right now he's the favourite for any tournament he plays on clay. How old is he? 18-19?
Rafa will be 19 in just under a month. Does he remind you of anyone...?
I've haven't seen anything like it, anyone like him. He's unique. He's quick in everything he does. He has quick hands, quick legs, lots of speed on the ball. It's harder to play again him because he's lefthanded. And what's more, he always wants to win, at all costs. He's a joy to watch. It's great.
Andre, you have been playing for 20 years, since that debut in 1985, during the best days of John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. After the battle in Rome between Coria and Nadal, McEnroe "Supermac" said he "thanked God" he didn't have to contend matches like that, against those players. But you keep going...
Now I've started to feel comfortable on clay and think I can do well there. On clay, you have to be very patient. There are lots of options on every shot. If you're not adapted to it, that's the most difficult thing about playing on clay. But that's one more part of the challenge I was talking about earlier, because everything together is something very hard to achieve. But if you can do it, it leaves you feeling very satisfied, because you know it's something truly difficult. Although that's not the most difficult thing...
In this game, you are what you are on the court. It's difficult to hide. It's not about what you say or what other people say about you. Either you do it, or you don't. If you do it, you enjoy it. And I don't have much more time to keep enjoying these feelings. Playing consecutive tournaments at a high level will never be easy for me anymore. On the whole. what I try to do is respond to all those challenges.
There is a decision, the one regarding your retirement, which seems near. To what extent will your family influence whether you'll keep playing or not?
When I'm in Germany, my wife decides anything (laughs)...but having got to this point, I enjoy tennis every day and I see what comes afterwards. My family knows tennis is a very big part of my life. Of our life, I would say. They know that now, I'm taking it year by year. Each year as it comes. I don't know: I still have the desire. But there's also the physical issue. My family supports me in all my decisions. Whatever we decide about tennis, we'll decide together. And it'll definitely be the best for me.
After this, the explanation of your defeat to Feliciano Lopez speaks for itself...
On that court (the covered centre court of Rothenbaum club), it was too cold for me and it wasn't just about that, but also about trying to reaclimatise after Rome. I have to give credit to Lopez, who played great, but it was difficult for me to move and I had problems with the distance and penetration of my shots. I felt ordinary, off. It was very tough.
Year by year: that's the challenge.
05-16-2005, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
May 15, 2005
Tennis: Prince of the court
A few weeks ago it would have been unthinkable, but Rafael Nadal’s form makes him a French Open contender
Those who purport to know about matters of adolescence maintain that much can be gleaned of a youth’s characteristics by table manners. Teenagers who bolt their food are likely to be impetuous; eating too slowly may depict hesitation. Denied sustenance by the pressures of fame, Rafael Nadal contemplated a late lunch with a calculated plan of strategy and meticulously set about the task of satisfying his ravenous hunger.
Most people his age would opt for a burger or the like after being deprived of dinner the previous night by the demands of work and then forced to rush breakfast. Fittingly, however, a plate of seafood lay before the 18-year-old who was raised on the Mediterranean island of Majorca; slivers of salmon, crab, scallops and king prawns.
Selecting the rarest of tuna steaks, Nadal neatly cut the fish into six equal strips with the same precision with which he has carved up most of his tennis opposition over the past few months. He eats his food in the same way he plays his sport; deliberate, assured and in a manner beyond his years.
And the fact that most of the tennis world expects him to become the most successful debutant at a Grand Slam tournament for almost a quarter of a century is not about to cause even the faintest twinge. “It is good, I like,” he says with a smile, spearing a piece of fish, but knowing that another session of interrogation on the matter of his sensational rise over the past six months is about to begin.
Laying down his fork to answer the initial and most obvious question, he brushes away the thick mop of black hair that perpetually shades his left eye and answers: “No, I don’t really believe what is going on for me right now, because everything is falling my way, but the sensible thing is not to think about it too much. Five tournament wins is great, no? And big titles, in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. It makes me very happy, but I know I don’t win these things through luck. I win because I work hard and play good. All I can do is make sure those things carry on and then maybe I will win some more. If I got to the French (Open) and keep playing like this, I have a good chance, because nobody has beaten me recently, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
Youthful exuberance has had little to do with the trail of success Nadal has left through the showpiece clay courts of the world this year. He may be a player who has prematurely come of age since scoring the pivotal win over world No 2 Andy Roddick that heralded Spain’s victory in last December’s Davis Cup final.
But he is perfectly at ease with the situation, and although Roger Federer is the world’s top-ranked male player and Gaston Gaudio the defending champion, it is the boy with the body and mind of a grown man who is expected to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires in three weeks.
Yet those closest to Nadal remain amazed by the demeanour of the player who started the year ranked outside the world’s top 50 and is now No 5. “He just doesn’t seem affected or bothered by it all,” says his agent, Carlos Costa, a top 10 player in the early 1990s who says he is now far busier dealing with the business side of sport’s newest superstar.
“I notice no pressure in his mind, just a maturity that I have never seen in somebody so young.”
Benito Perez-Barbadillo, the ATP’s director of communications and Latin relations, agrees, but adds: “Watching the way he handles everything to do with his tennis, you would never realise how introverted he can be off the court. Rafa is the most famous thing ever to happen in his home town of Manacor, but when he goes home he is still shy when it comes to talking to the girls he likes. He can do whatever he likes on a tennis court, but back home, being a normal teenager, he has the same problems as so many other kids.”
Perhaps the French Open title and its potential financial rewards might improve his attraction, although Nadal is already doing pretty well in that department, with career prize-money to date of more than $2m. He is following a proud Spanish tradition, established more than 40 years ago by Manolo Santana and repeated by Andres Gimeno, Sergi Bruguera, Carlos Moya, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Yet Nadal refuses to put undue pressure on himself and riles at the suggestion that it has always been his ambition to follow this line of succession. “Nunca (never),” he snaps. “It is wrong to think so high at a young age. It is not clever for me to hear what the people are saying about me going to Roland Garros this year. Right now I’m just thinking if I lose, it’s because nobody can win every week.
“If I don’t win another match this year, I will have accomplished the goal I set in January of getting into the top 20 in 2005. Last year it was the same, I just wanted to win my first ATP tournament and I did that in August after missing three months. Then there was Davis Cup final, and now to win Masters Series finals twice against a player like (Guillermo) Coria, who people said was the best in the world on clay last year, is a great thing. But I know I won’t be able to keep playing like this all the time. It is not normal to win the sort of matches I have been winning. I know a bad patch will come. The important thing is that this will be my first year playing in Paris, not my last.”
Such a defence mechanism is understandable. Public expectation has long been a factor in Nadal’s life. Almost from the time he chose to concentrate on tennis rather than football at 12, he has been the focus of media attention in his homeland.
When fellow Majorcan Moya was the champion of Roland Garros in 1998 and subsequently the world No 1, he was quick to recognise the youngster’s talent and volunteered for the role of mentor to a player he was convinced would ultimately succeed him. A year later, Nadal was chosen as the Spanish flag-carrier as Barcelona staged the Davis Cup final against Australia, at which patriotism and subsequent ill-feeling courtside resulted in the away team’s captain, John Newcombe, giving serious consideration to silencing his antagonistic opposite number, Javier Duarte, with a well-timed right hook to the jaw.
Nadal has been groomed for the test to come, being pitched into men’s tournaments at 14 rather than playing on the junior circuit. With his 16th birthday still several months distant, he registered his first ATP Tour victory over Paraguay’s Ramon Delgado on the Majorcan clay of Palma. “What was the need for Rafa to play against boys when he was already strong enough to take on the men ?” says Perez- Barbadillo.
Everything was on the upward curve until almost 12 months ago, when he found himself, sad and dispirited, hobbling on crutches at Roland Garros after fracturing an ankle in a build-up tournament at Estoril. “At the time I was feeling very down and the idea was to make me feel happier by seeing what I would experience,” Nadal recalls, pondering added misfortune because a year earlier he had been prevented from competing because of an elbow injured during practice. “I watched my friend Carlos (Moya) win his first-round match and I was glad for him, but not being able to play made me feel bad and I just wanted to go home.”
Nadal will be in the same place this weekend, again far away from tennis. For a time he will be sitting on a fishing boat a couple of kilometres off the Majorcan coast. Together with a group of childhood friends he will have made the 15-minute drive from his hometown, heading east away from tourist traps of Magaluf, Cala Major and the capital, Palma, instead setting sail from Porto Cristo, intent on catching a few halibut or perhaps even a swordfish. His beloved Real Madrid’s match against Seville also has huge importance (and the fact that his uncle, the recently retired Miguel Angel, was a Barcelona legend has no bearing on whom the youngster wants to win La Liga).
And of course there will be the Pro Evolution game on his PlayStation, a near obsessional method of relaxation that eventually allowed him to calm down in the small hours of Monday morning after five hours and as many sets of intense confrontation against Coria to win the Master Series title in Rome.
Tomorrow or the day after he will return to the courts, although he will be careful not to aggravate the cut on his left hand which he suffered in that concentrated struggle against Coria, the reason for his perhaps timely inability to contest the Masters Series tournament in Hamburg. A photoshoot for the American magazine People will be a brief distraction before he flies to Paris on Wednesday.
The consensus among those who know first-hand what it takes to succeed in the ultimate test of clay-court play is he will return as French champion. Even the wily Coria, perfectly qualified to make a discompassionate judgment between the chances of Nadal and Federer after losing to both in the past week, is insistent: “Sometimes you think Roger is impossible to beat, but of the two, Rafa is far the stronger on clay.”
Last edited by RogiFan88 : 05-16-2005 at 09:07 PM.
05-17-2005, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: A US state that was once its own country.
Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<
Here is an article from the front page of today's USA Today. This is a national newspaper that is very widely read. There are a couple of errors in it but overall it is pretty good and I think it's great that he's getting such coverage in a US paper.
May 17, 2005, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 1C
LENGTH: 1809 words
HEADLINE: Phenom will inject flair into French;
Streaking Nadal, 18, ready for Grand Slam glare
BYLINE: Doug Robson
No man has captured the French Open in his debut since Swede Mats Wilander came out of nowhere to win in 1982.
Rafael Nadal can count on no such anonymity.
With his flowing hair and boyish good looks, strapping frame and warrior's heart, Nadal enters next week's French Open riding a wave of anticipation not seen since Boris Becker captured Wimbledon at 17.
Nadalmania has taken the tennis world by storm.
Since losing an epic five-set final to No. 1 Roger Federer at Florida's Nasdaq-100 in early April, the 18-year-old Spanish sensation has won three consecutive clay-court titles, including Masters Series events in Monte Carlo and Rome. The left-hander has risen into the top five, built a 17-match winning streak and posted an ATP tour-best 31-2 record on clay.
Despite having never struck a ball on the red dirt of Roland Garros, home of the season's second major, the kid known as "Rafa" arrives as the player to beat.
"He's got to be one of the favorites, if not the favorite," U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe says.
Wilander, who was an unseeded 17-year-old when he won in Paris 23 years ago, says lack of experience isn't necessarily a disadvantage. "He will be hungrier than anyone," the three-time French Open champion says.
"I know it's my first, but I don't think about it right now," says Nadal, who came back from a 0-3 deficit in the fifth set against 2004 French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria nine days ago to become the youngest winner in Rome since Jimmy Arias in 1983.
"When I have to play Roland Garros, I'll start thinking about it."
How impressive has Nadal's spring been?
*Since losing in Valencia to Igor Andreev of Russia in early April, he has won 17 consecutive matches in 27 days, the second-longest winning streak on the tour this year and the longest heading into Roland Garros since Thomas Muster's 23-match streak in 1995.
*His ranking has jumped from No.31 to No.5 in less than two months.
*He is the youngest player, at 18 years, 11 months, to break into the top five since Michael Chang (17 years, 5 months) in 1989.
*He is the first teenager to win five ATP titles in a season since Andre Agassi won six in 1988. Nadal is one behind top-ranked Federer for the most titles won this year.
The hyper Nadal, who can barely sit still in the locker room before his matches, insists the sudden success hasn't changed him an iota.
"No, no, nothing has really changed in my life," he says. "Not even my cell (phone) number."
Another Mallorcan star is born
Born on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, east of the Spanish mainland, Nadal began playing tennis at 5 with his uncle, Toni, who remains his coach today.
An only child in a family with athletic prowess -- his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was a member of Spain's national soccer team and had stints with top clubs FC Barcelona and Real Mallorca -- Nadal quickly rose up the junior rankings in Spain.
Fellow Mallorcan and 1998 French Open champ Carlos Moya first hit with Nadal when he was 12 and has said since that Nadal was destined for stardom. The two became close, and Moya has served as a behind-the-scenes mentor as Nadal has improved since turning pro in 2001.
"To start your career and have a friend like that who can give you advice and tips and also a chance to socialize, it's obviously important," says Nadal, who is still learning English and spoke through an interpreter.
True to Moya's prediction, Nadal began making headlines early in his teens. He was so good he barely played any major international junior events. He competed only in the Wimbledon boys tournament, where he reached the semifinals in 2002.
He won his first ATP match that same year, at 15, becoming one of nine players to win their first at that age in the Open era (since 1968). Then, in 2003, he upended Moya in the Hamburg Masters and finished the season in the top 50 at No. 47.
After reaching as high as No. 34 in March 2004, Nadal suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle joint. That forced him to miss nearly three months, including the French Open and most of last year's clay-court season.
Disappointed, Nadal stayed at home and watched the major clay tournaments on TV.
"They were difficult moments, but I've had them and they are behind me now," he says. "Obviously it was not nice because I was playing very good on clay."
All the tools, all the emotion
Unlike such teenage prodigies as Wilander, Bjorn Borg, Arias and Chang, Nadal is stamped more in the Becker mold. At 6-1, 188 pounds, Nadal is as big as a bull and just as strong, with a swagger in his step and boldness in his personality that match his physical presence.
"I mean, me at 18 (and) looking at Nadal at 18, from the neck down you would think one person was 26 and another person was 12," Agassi said jokingly at the Nasdaq-100.
Although his serve is not a significant weapon yet, Nadal hits some of the heaviest groundstrokes in the game and comes up with angles most players can imagine but not execute.
He can take control of points with his whippy topspin forehand, but he's also an excellent mover who can scramble his way from defense to offense.
"His forehand is huge," Federer says, "and because he's a lefty, it changes so many things."
What sets him apart even more is his never-say-die attitude and big-match mentality.
A surprise choice by Spanish captain Jordi Arrese in December's Davis Cup final in Seville, Nadal came out and beat then-No. 2 Andy Roddick in four sets in the opening match, propelling Spain to the championship.
This month, after capturing back-to-back titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Nadal dug himself out of one-set deficits in consecutive matches to reach the Rome final.
Sipping cola and munching on bananas, an exhausted Nadal then overcame a fifth-set deficit and blisters to his playing hand to knock off Argentina's Coria 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) in a match that lasted more than five hours.
"You have to start with his competitive instincts. He just loves the battle, and it doesn't matter whether he wins or loses the first set. He comes right back in the second ready to go," two-time French Open champ Jim Courier says.
Nadal says, "I've always been a guy who is mentally stable and centered."
Charisma and fame's glare
Nadal will need to maintain his stability. His success, coupled with his natural flair and charisma, has thrust him into the international limelight.
After his win in Monte Carlo, Nadal arrived in Barcelona as the new king of Spanish tennis. His every movement was daily news in local papers. He was inundated with autograph requests. For the first time, he needed protection from fans and onlookers while walking around tournament grounds, ATP officials said.
In his spare time at tournaments, he plays soccer and PlayStation 2, listens to Spanish music and current pop and dance music and has a voracious appetite -- he munches lots of cookies and loves to go out to eat, particularly if it's for seafood. Other hobbies include deep-sea fishing and golf.
Despite the media glare, Nadal, who is single and has no girlfriend, says he is surprised by his success and the attention but remains unfazed.
"I don't know much about how the public perception is or if some other people have changed. What I can tell you is that I have not changed," he says. "I'm exactly the same kind of guy, and I have the same kind of life. I don't have more or less pressure. I try to be the same, act in the same way. ... I have to work every day 100% and try to forget the rest."
He concedes, however, that his confidence has never been higher. "Maybe what has changed is that I know how to be more calm on court. I know how to control better the important moments in a match."
As his run on the hard courts in the Nasdaq-100 attests, Nadal can't be pigeonholed as simply a clay-court grinder. He made the third round on grass at Wimbledon in his debut two years ago and reached the third round of the Australian Open this year on hard courts.
He was one of six players to beat Federer in 2004, and he did so on a hard court.
"He's going to be one of the great players," seven-time Grand Slam champ John McEnroe says. "It just remains to be seen how quickly he'll learn to play on grass and the faster surfaces."
If he continues at the same pace as this year, Nadal could be the perfect foil to Federer and provide the kind of contrast the game has lacked since John McEnroe and Borg clashed at the top of the sport a quarter century ago.
*The right-handed Federer employs a one-handed backhand and plays a classic style reminiscent of earlier eras, while southpaw Nadal typifies the modern backcourt game with heavy topspin and a two-fisted backhand.
*Whereas Federer is cool and collected, the swashbuckling Nadal is prone to frequent fist pumps, cries of "Vamos" ("Let's go") and other emotive displays.
*The clean-cut, gentlemanly Federer comes off as a former altar boy. Nadal, with his shoulder-length hair, white headband and trademark white clam digger shorts, looks like an island warrior swept in off the high seas.
"We'll see, of course, very much from him in the future," Federer said after his comeback 2-6, 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1 victory in the Nasdaq-100 final. "For me this was a big match because I know what a great player he will be one day."
Reign of Spain in Paris One day has come quicker than Federer imagined.
Indeed, whether Nadal can pull off a win at Roland Garros seems only a matter of time. Whether he can do it on his first try is another question. The stakes will be higher, the target on his back bigger and the pressure to live up to the public's growing expectations even greater.
"He's playing great this year, and we'll have to see how much energy he has left for the French," says fellow left-hander Muster, an Austrian who won the French Open in 1995. "He's very young, and there are a lot of things for him to cope with mentally. He's a young kid with lots of expectations."
Some have wondered if Nadal, with all his long matches and titles since March, might have played too much heading into the grueling two-week clay-court major, where matches are best-of-five sets and points are longer on the sticky, red clay.
Nadal discounts that idea. "I know I've played a lot, but I'm feeling well and I'm very excited."
Then again, recent history is on the youngster's side: Spanish men have won five of the last 12 French Opens, more than men from any other country.
Wilander, for one, wouldn't be surprised to see Nadal win if he gets out of the early rounds.
"You can burn yourself out," Wilander says, "but when you come in with that much confidence, you can feel untouchable."
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