Rafael Nadal spoke to us about his unrivalled motivation, his love for olives and that huge left arm.
Rafa Nadal is already regarded as one of the all-time great tennis players. We caught up with the 17-time Grand Slam champion ahead of the Mubadala Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi.
Who has been your toughest opponent in your career?
I guess if you look at the number of times and the w/l record, I should name Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Favourite/most memorable match you’ve been a part of?
A difficult question since there have been many important matches in my career. But I guess I should always mention the 2008 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. That probably marked a special moment in my career.
Your favourite court?
Philippe Chatrier in Roland Garros since I have won 11 titles there. The sensations I have on that court is unique.
Your injuries have been much publicised and set you back a long way. But in typical Rafa Nadal fashion, your resilience and determination brought you through just as strong as before. What was your motivation? How did you keep going at the toughest of times?
I love the competition and love to play at the most important tournaments in the world. I believe the will to compete and play is what moves everything else around me.
What’s the reason so many tennis matches last longer today? Slower courts, fitter players, better conditioned athletes?
I think a bit of all you mention. The players are better, faster, it is very difficult to win one point.
Do you think it’s good for the sport that games last longer?
It depends if the match is a very good match. Normally those long matches are amazing. There are special and exciting moments that exist during those matches. Not sure that they would be the same with shorter matches.
Training – you used to be a lot bulkier when you were younger; is that something you had to curb? Where you ever told that you were too bulky to play tennis?
I don’t think this is accurate. I have had the process of a normal person. When I was younger by body was different and then I have been growing. Now at 32 the body changes again and I also try to pay more attention to my diet and therefore I try to keep a bit lighter for the movements.
What’s the training regime like today? Weights, conditioning, CrossFit, cardio?
It’s the same as always with a mix of everything but less weights than what anyone could think. It is all very specific to the tennis needs and movements.
What’s your diet like? Are there foods you avoid, or eat more often than others?
I now have a more specific diet and pay much more attention to what I eat. I normally eat fish and rice, salads and vegetables. Not a lot of meat lately and I avoid processed sugar as much as possible. I drink water mainly but have some wine from time to time, which I enjoy very much.
Do you have a cheat meal? What is it? And how often do you allow yourself to eat it?
I use to have more than I have now. I try not to allow myself any more and therefore I won’t be able to tell you what is it. But… Olives… I love them and eat them as cheat food…
Which country do you enjoy visiting/touring the most when you’re on the circuit?
I try to enjoy all the places as much as I can although the time is very limited and I can’t really go out much. I do go out to restaurants every night and have my favourite ones.
Do you have any pre-match routines or superstitions you always stick to?
I do have routines that are strictly about tennis, not superstition. I simply like to follow them since I consider them important for my game. These can be some activities before the match with my team, way to prepare racquets, etc.
If you could’ve become a professional in any other sport, what would it have been and why?
I suppose I would have liked to play football (soccer), I had an uncle that played at a very high professional level and I was also playing before I had to choose sports, because I had to study as well.
What’s life going to look like after the tennis career? Any plans yet?
Yes, many plans and some of them already rolling such as the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar which has been open for the past 2 years and we are very happy the way it’s going. It is located in my hometown in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain.
Who has been your toughest opponent in the MWTC tournaments?
I have had many big matches at the MWTC and I wouldn’t be able to name just one. All matches have been important for me, for my preparation and I take them all very seriously.
END OF INTERVIEW
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