It’s not cold in Manacor on this Wednesday in October. But yes a lot of wind and Rafael Nadal (June 3, 1986), 20 Grand Slam titles, 13 of them at Roland Garros (Paris), has preferred to crush himself in silence, in the vast indoor court that is in his luxurious Academy, together with his three inseparable coaches, to whom more faithful, friend and more professional: Carlos Moyá, Tomeu Salvà and Rafael Maymó.
His punches, I swear, sound like him tiger woods swing, each blow of his (on the other side of the track are Salvà and Moyá trying, just trying, not to have compassion for the champion) is, not only because of his battle cry, because of his scream, as if an F-18 fighter were flying over the roof of the track. Seriously, being around Nadal when he hits is one of the most impressive things in the world, it’s like watching a NASA rocket lift off.
You are in your 30s, very fashionable. You sweep Roland Garros, LeBron James returns to the top of the NBA, Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher, Robert Lewandowski wins it all with Bayern. Is there life after 30?
- I think it’s a fashion issue and now those trends have changed. Before, when you reached 29, you were already old and you already had to retire. But, in the last decade, there have been a number of athletes who have triumphantly lengthened their careers and opened their eyes to others. We all believe that there is life beyond 30 and if you do things well you can continue to be competitive at that age. In addition, there are more means and experience to prevent and heal injuries.
Anyway, there is also a very personal theme of each of us and that is that you like it, that you are passionate about it, that you enjoy what you do, that you feel what you do. Without that feeling, love, for the sport you practice, for your profession, although for me it is not a profession, it is impossible to extend your career and even less if you have been successful for many years.
In other words, there is still a long way to go.
- I can't guess when I'm going to retire, no, no. Who knows what will happen in a year. You cannot program the future. I do not know what life will bring us, something may happen that will dispel my illusions about what I am doing. I hope this does not happen. Of course, to this day, I think this is unlikely, but you always need to be prepared, because everything changes very quickly.
I, of course, am not afraid of this day and therefore do not think about it. Yes, I understand that when this day comes, I will feel it, I will know it, I will understand. Perhaps I will no longer feel the passion that drives me to workout every morning. I will stop feeling the goals of continuous improvement that are necessary to remain competitive. Time goes by ... when this happens, it will be time to say that I am leaving and starting to do the same or more important things than tennis, of course.
Thus, we are not talking about either physical or mental problems.
- Well, well, physical fitness is very important in assessing whether you can continue to compete. I think that if the injuries do not follow me, I see no reason at the moment why not continue to compete. If a person experiences pain every day and life, and training, and competition turn into constant suffering, and it is obvious that you need to think about it.
Will the end of victories be the reason for retirement?
- Victory is an important part of sport, it is part of its essence, but I would not talk so much about the need to win, which of course exists. I would say that you need to be competitive. If you have the feeling that you can win and have fun trying, winning and losing, that's part of the sport. Winning is positive energy that helps you keep working, that's for sure. There may be people who give up when they stop winning, maybe yes.
Is it difficult for you to get up every day to go to workout?
- If I am physically healthy, it costs me nothing to get up and train every day. Moreover, now I get more pleasure from training than ten years ago. Before, every day was an exam for me, I demanded the maximum from myself. If I didn't train well, I didn't like it; if I played badly, it worried me. Today I live in this process more calmly. Of course, I want to train and play well! But I realized that you can't always be one hundred percent. Talking about tennis, I've learned to cope with bad days more calmly. I don't make drama out of bad training. Now I know when I need to be 100x100 and I cannot fail. Attitude, intensity, energy and motivation should be 100x100, so I rest more than I used to and do more selective workouts.
It is possible that the family life that you lead in your beloved Manacor is also part of your good disposition to continue.
- When you live a normal, ordinary, stable life, on an emotional level it helps you on the court. Sport cannot be separated from life. If I went to live on the other side of the world, far from my family, friends and my loved ones, I would suffer and endure this emotional burden on the court. The fact that since childhood I did not separate myself from my ordinary environment helped me to make a longer career. I did everything my friends did: the beach, parties, sports, but less often, of course. This emotional stability, this normal, simple daily life also helped me stay on my feet and not go crazy when I won or saw all the negative things after a defeat.
I know you've been asked many times, but how would you like to be remembered after you retire?
- For me, definitely! A personal question is more important than a professional one. I always say that I would like to be remembered as a good person than as a champion or something else. Because, in the end, victories, titles are moments of happiness, euphoria, adrenaline, success, but all this is a temporary phenomenon. I have always understood very clearly that the success and interest that you generate in people, in companies, is temporary. This interest is about what I do, not who I am. The important thing is that people who know you have a positive attitude towards you, and the image that is transferred into the world can be fabricated.
You like to have a good relationship with everyone, don't you?
- Well, yes, what can I deny, I try to get along with everyone. Why? Since I do not like to argue, I am not a supporter of quarrels, polemics. I don't like opposition, nothing! I never quarrel with my partner. I like to exchange opinions, but I do not share the idea that problems need to be solved face to face. I only do this if it is an insurmountable problem. I don't want to live with problems. Life already presents you with real, genuine problems that turn small problems into big problems. When faced with these small problems, it is best to take a short break, wait a few days and, of course, everything will return to normal.
That's why you, a Real Madrid fan, get along so well with your relatives, the Barça fans, right? By the way, do you think we'll see Leo Messi decline soon?
- What are you talking about! Messi may not be the same as usual, maybe he has had the best times, but he is still the best player in the world. Football, like everyone else at the moment, has lost some interest. We all have a serious rival - this virus that has destroyed our lives, our relationships and affects, especially, the economy. There are many people who feel very bad.
So, in a sense, you are the first to celebrate the return of the sport of the highest level.
- The truth is that when we were locked up, I thought: “If only there was football, golf, tennis, anything! What I know, some kind of sport ”, because, after all, there is something unique in sport. : it is real, what you see is here and now. This is not fiction, television, movies, series ... Sports entertain people, motivate them, make them feel good, you win, you lose, many people are passionate about sports and enjoy it. Of course, now everything has faded into the background ... Although football, yes, is still a distraction for many people, including me.
Italian Luca de Meo, the new CEO of the Renault group, said in an interview "Spaniards don't understand how good they are.” I am convinced that you fully share this laudable statement about the Spaniards.
- I don't know if this is so, I know for sure that we tend to create more tension than anyone else. Although, in truth, the current situation does not help because it is very complicated and difficult for everyone, unpleasant, sad and has changed our lives in a very negative way, I hope that we will return as soon as possible to a happy and positive environment in every way. I think we have a fantastic country and that the Spanish are very nice, sociable and educated.
Do you say this from your own experience because you travel a lot?
- Listen, in many countries of the world you get into an elevator, I will not say which one, I will not name names, and it is not necessary, and you say “good morning”, but no one answers you! This is not the case here in Spain, anywhere in Spain. We are really lucky.
But ... I see that you are going to add a "but".
- But to this day, without fierce criticism, I believe that television is radicalizing, and the political class in some way divides a society with so much struggle, discussion, tension and so on. And above all, practically with a lack of dialogue, understanding and agreements. They divide us, and this is very insulting.
Quite the opposite of what you and your friend Pau Gasol started in collaboration with the Red Cross, as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic broke out when you raised over 14 million euros.
- This is a question of personal responsibility, I think we should set an example. What we can contribute economically will have some value, yes, but what is important is that we have a responsibility to generate solidarity, open the eyes of others, and have everyone contribute. I believe that in difficult times, people who are public, people who are lucky in this life, should set an example and be in some way the first to help.
What you are doing right now, for 10 years now, with your Foundation.
- The Foundation is fundamental for me and pursues a single goal: to create opportunities for children who actually do not have them and will not have them if life goes on as usual. There are families with children who are destined to live a very difficult life because of the place where they were born, because of the humble family to which they belong, because life is like that.
What are your intentions and goals?
- We try to surround them with a positive environment, and sport in this sense is a good way to achieve this. I believe that sport is the best ally of education as it has values such as sacrifice, effort, camaraderie, solidarity, respect, participation, obedience, yes, yes, obedience to teachers, professors and coaches who help these children get a good education. ... We always need money, of course we do! But today I can get help and raise this money through all kinds of activities and performances. As long as I can, as long as I have the strength, I will work in this direction, because I feel it deep inside and because I think it would be very unfair not to do it. Moreover, when I retire from tennis, the Foundation will become a part of my future life.
The absolute trial champion, Tony Bowe, the holder of 28 world titles, told me the other day that every time a competition starts, everyone predicts his victory, and that's when he begins to doubt his ability to win. Does something like this happen to you?
- No, no, it is others who make you a favorite, I never consider myself a favorite. If I debut at Roland Garros against the world №83, it is obvious that if I am at my best level then I am the favorite, but I mean that from the inside you know that you can lose and can win. And this is our reality because it happens. I have never felt the external pressure of the media, it's only my personal pressure affects me, not external.
How do you manage to overcome the loss of a point, a game or a set?
- It's about habits. From a tennis point of view, the best players are psychologically very strong and have such abilities. There are players who, when they lose a point, a game, a set, give up. In my case, I can only speak for myself, this is a personal commitment that I have always felt since childhood, because there was an environment next to me that never allowed me to give up, my uncle Tony in this sense was always very demanding of me, and I think that thanks to this it is easier for me to continue, to continue and to continue the struggle.
Even when the final of Roland Garros begins with a victory over World #1 with a score of 6:0.
- At that moment even more, because I will tell you one thing: the score in tennis is very tricky. After 6:0, many thought that he beat Novak (Djokovic), and this was far from the truth. This 6-0 was very deceiving, because the level of one and the other did not correspond to the score of 6-0. Things like that happen and you can't keep playing, believing that you beat him. And sometimes, when it's the other way around, when I lose, regardless of the result, I think the same way and start the next set, thinking that the match starts over. The most important thing when you are on the court is to never stop giving yourself opportunities, never give up, because you can improve, you get inspired, your opponent might fail, you can relax ... if you mentally give up or lose faith, it is impossible to return to the game.
Did they really come up with balls for Roland Garros for you to lose?
- Please, I heard and read this thesis about the balls of Roland Garros, and this is absurd, disgraceful. Roland Garros changes sponsor and the new sponsor makes his own balls. I have an excellent relationship with Roland Garros, I have no complaints either from the public or from the organization. I feel that every year they are very, very happy that I am winning.
Do you like that everyone considers you a role model, that all mothers would like to have a son or son-in-law like you?
- It doesn't bother me too much. I believe that all of us, popular people who appear on television, to put it mildly, should be very responsible, because there are many people you can influence for better or worse, and therefore, we must take care of our behavior. , in your own words. I try to be natural. You cannot be a marketing product because at some point something negative will arise that destroys this disguise. I try to be natural. I do not pretend to be loved by everyone. Moreover, I believe that it is impossible. I try to be right with everyone, and, above all, I thank life for all the good things that happen to me.
Has your marriage changed you a lot, your wedding?
- Me? No, no, Maria and I have been together for 16 years. It was a very nice day, very, and we had a great time.
By the way, your friend Pau Gasol just became a father, right?
- Yes, I would like to have children. And so that they grow up with the values that sport carries, because this is a very positive environment!
Translated by Google