Last week in the first edition of “Beyond the Blog,” I looked at Sorana Cirstea’s WTA blogs. Now let’s go back a few years and see what life was like for a teenage Rafa.
A long time ago in a land far, far away, the ATP website let players blog and it was glorious. Okay, at least it was glorious for fans. As I understand it, most of the blogs were just dictated to the ATP rep, so it was probably a lot of work and very annoying for the ATP, and I don’t really blame them for stopping. But for us it was fabulous.
Rafael Nadal “wrote” this blog in 2006 during the French Open, and to put it mildly it was the greatest thing to ever happen to tennis blogging. (Before “The Changeover,” that is.) We’ve set the scene for the 2006 French Open before, but it’s really fun to re-live the tournament through Rafa’s POV. As a reminder, at the time he only had one Major (the 2005 French Open), only six (hah!) Masters titles, and was ranked No. 2. He was also only 19 at the start of the blog.
As with everything Rafa does, he was dedicated, passionate, and very thorough about the blogging, and it provides a lot of great insight into the mind of a Champion in the early stages of his legendary career. You can read the entire blog from the ATP website, but I have copied my favorite parts over here for us to peruse back through together. Because his original two-week blog was about 13,000 words long, I had to take out a lot of boring things like context and actual references to tennis. Spoiler alert: he won his matches. All of them. Even with the edits it’s going to take a while, though. Because it’s Rafa, and some things never change. So let’s get started:
Sunday, May 28, 2006
It’s the first time I’ve written a blog and it will be a lot of fun. A lot of people want to know what I do, especially at Roland Garros, and the blog will be a good way for them to find out.
Yes, Rafa. I’m very glad that you understand exactly how blogs work! This should be fun.
His first blog from Paris was actually about going to Barcelona for the Laureus World Sports Awards:
…I rushed to the airport to fly to Barcelona for the Laureus World Sports Awards but when I arrived I saw that my plane had been delayed by a couple of hours, which caused me to panic a little.
PANIC! At the airport. What do you want to bet that Rafa’s travel anxiety has not changed throughout the years?
For the first time in my life I had to get dressed into a black tie suit, as did all of my family. (The ladies wore full-length dresses.) There were so many sports stars staying at the hotel. When I was getting ready to get dressed I was rushing out of the elevator and I crashed into Formula 1 driver Mika Hakkinen. I said ‘Wow, there are so many famous people around.’
First of all, I love that Rafa made it to 19 without having to dress up in a “black tie suit,” although I’m not at all surprised. Also, I love that he’s a) starstruck and b) actually crashing into people. Mess!
Driving in the car to the awards we got into a deep conversation about the Da Vinci Code, which is the latest movie that I have seen. I got into an argument with my mother and father and Benito from the ATP because we had different perspectives on the movie.
This is probably the most 2006 sentence ever written. Remember when we all argued about the Da Vinci Code? If you say you didn’t then you are lying. Also, I just love the idea of Rafa and family all dressed up in fancy clothes on the way to a prestigious awards show having a “deep conversation” about the Da Vinci Code. Why not?
We arrived at the awards on time and our car was just about to pull up to the red carpet when a lot of cars overtook us. It’s King Juan Carlos and his entourage! So, you know we stopped and wait for my turn. We stayed in the car for three or four minutes. We actually were joking with the police, asking them to give the King a ticket for speeding.
Confession: when I first read this I assumed that he was talking about Juan Carlos Ferrero and I didn’t even bat an eye. Let’s pretend that Rafa WAS talking about Ferrero and that he actually calls him King. And that Ferrero has an entourage that cuts Rafa off. It’s all much more fun that way.
I had to decide who to walk down the red carpet with: my sister or my mother. Both are beautiful ladies, but I thought that if I walked out with my sister the media who didn’t know her may speculate that she was my girlfriend and also she is a bit shy, so I decided to walk with my mother.
Always pick your mother, Rafa. Always.
I asked Benito to introduce me to Rossi and when we were walking towards him he said, “Hey, Nadal! I always watch you play on TV!” I was surprised, you know, I wanted to get introduced to him, but it was him asking me to take a picture. Rossi said he’d send the picture but I’m still waiting. So Valentino, if you’re reading the blog, send it through! He’s really a nice guy and I would love to go and see a GP live.
A) I really bet that to this day Rafa asks Benito to introduce him to people and is still shocked when they know who he is. B) The fact that he’s turning this blog into a ploy to get tickets is pretty amazing and precious and savvy.
Roger Federer, who won the World Sportsman of the Year Award for the second year, was also at the same table. Everyone knows I like Roger. We speak to each other in English.
This is totally proof of the first Fedal date.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Okay guys, here I am again as promised. I like to keep my word, so let’s start blog number two with what I did yesterday and then I’ll talk about what I did today.
And we’re back! I love that Rafa starts with a topic sentence so we know what is coming next. I bet he aced the fourth grade writing exam.
I scheduled two practices yesterday. The first one was at noon with Ferrero and the second one was with Berdych. I also wanted to see the Formula One from Monte-Carlo so I rushed off after practice to the locker room, where there are a lot of TV screens that show us every court and also sports on other channels. Monte-Carlo is one of the most exciting Grand Prix so I was very interested to watch it.
He’s just a boy who wants to watch the cars …
Whenever I have a match the following day I try to get to the hotel a little earlier. At the hotel I played on my PlayStation for about an hour and a half. You might ask, which game? I have to say that I used to play a lot of football but lately I am pretty much hooked on the F1 game. I also played a little bit of the spy game.
and play PlayStation! 2006 Rafa is very similar to 2013 Rafa. And to my 11-year-old cousin. Sounds like a fun day. You might ask, what did he do the next day?
Today I woke up at 10 and I have to say that I was a little nervous because the tournament was starting and the record was on the table. I watched a bit of TV that I never normally do in the mornings. I was thinking about the record to tell you the truth so that made me be more nervous. But I think that is a good thing. I went to the site and I had a hit with Felciano Lopez. He is one of my best friends and I call him ‘Fidgiano’. I will tell the story behind the name another time.
So I had a hit with Fidgiano, who by the way lost today, which doesn’t make me happy.”
Poor Fidgiano. PS: He basically writes a book with his blog and never does tell the “Fidgiano” story. What a tease.
Then I have to wait for my match. So what do I do? I like to get to the locker room early and in there I am jumping around, moving and getting my racquets ready. I tend not to go out of the locker room much when I have gone in. Oops, I forgot to mention that I had lunch again with Moya, Carlos, Nalbandian and Vitto. Who is Vitto? He is a guy who has worked for the ATP for 25 years. He is a Tour Manager. He is someone I like very much.
Oops, I forgot to tell you I ate lunch today with amazing people that you will never eat lunch with. I liked it very much.
So that has been my day. I haven’t done much, to tell the truth. Sorry, I forgot. I did something at the hotel today. I did a TV interview with Mats Wilander for Eurosport. He asked me about many things including the blog and how I was doing it. I told him how I did it and that I am enjoying it.
The fact that this is a boring day in the life of 19-year-old Rafa makes me acutely aware that I’ve never lived an interesting day in my life.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
But back to the blog… I have been reading that you have been making some very nice comments about the blog in chat rooms. All the feedback has been positive, which is nice. But come on, tell me what I could do better so I can improve! Some of you have mentioned that you want gossip. I’m not saying gossip is a bad thing, but I don’t want it coming from me because I don’t want to get into trouble with the guys in the locker room and I also think that that’s not me. I don’t like to gossip. I hope that’s good for you.
I’m obsessed with the fact that Rafa’s asking for constructive criticism on his blogging. But unfortunately the fact that he doesn’t like to gossip proves he doesn’t have a future in this business.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
So here we are again. Hi to everyone. I hope you’re not getting too bored with my blog.
The day started the same as yesterday: breakfast downstairs in the hotel. By the way, I found out that it cost 25 Euros. That’s very expensive.
Rafa is in the middle of defending his French Open title and he’s complaining about the cost of breakfast. It’s too much.
After telling you about all the TVs the other day I decided to count them – there are 18! That covers all the courts and other things that are happening on TV.
Rafa is dedicated to the details.
I practiced today with Diego Hartfield, who you probably know lost to Federer in the first round. The reason I practiced with him is because he is not in the tournament anymore, so I feel that I can practice specifics in my game. I feel that I can ask him to throw me some more forehands or backhands, or take time to have more serves… whatever I feel I need. It’s not so easy to ask your practice partner to do that if he is still in the tournament and working on his own game.
After practice it’s customary for players to say to each other ‘thanks a lot’ and we both did that. Then we got transportation together back to the site. I saw the end of Moya’s match and then waited for him to get his shower. Moya normally takes things slowly. When he was ready we had lunch with Fer Vicente and Marcos Gorriz, who is Alberto Martin’s coach. You all know that I am good friends with Moya. He is a sharp and funny guy. But ‘Fer’ is one of the funniest players on tour. We had a laugh at lunch.
After practice it’s customary for players to say to each other ‘thanks a lot’ and we both did that.
After practice it’s customary for players to say to each other ‘thanks a lot’ and we both did that.
After practice it’s customary for players to say to each other ‘thanks a lot’ and we both did that.
I don’t know why that’s so funny to me but I can’t stop laughing. Thanks a lot, Rafa. Also, I love that he talks about Moya taking things slowly. Considering Rafa got to 2013 without knowing that he grunts, I’m not surprised he doesn’t see the irony in this.
I know some people complain that it can take some time to get something to eat but if you have a match coming up soon there are people from the tournament who can take you to get food immediately.
Sure there are, Rafa. For you.
After lunch I went back to the locker room to watch how Roger was doing. I had a lot of fun with Moya in the locker room watching different matches.
Does this count as date number two?
There was nothing too original about my choice for dinner companions tonight… Toni and my physical therapist Juanan. We went to a pizzeria at the Champs Elysees close to the hotel where I had some pasta and pizza. When we were leaving the hotel for dinner I saw the TV crews coming back from the site. Alex Corretja and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario are working for TV this year. It made me think how good the players have got it. We come and go from the site as we please. But the media are there from before the first ball till after the last. It might seem like a fun and glamorous job to be part of the media but I’m sure it’s not an easy one.
Pasta and pizza! This will be a recurring theme. Also, who thinks it’s glamorous to be in tennis media? It’s precious that Rafa has sympathy though.
Thursday, June 1, 2006
This is my fifth post! I have been reading some of your comments and you have been telling me this is a post, not a blog. Thanks for that.
It is? Is that true? Am I using the wrong terminology? Does Rafa know more than I do about blogging? Sigh.
I want to start again with breakfast. I said yesterday that breakfast was expensive. Paris is an expensive city. But I found out that the hotel is only charging us half price so I have to apologize and thank them for that. I think it’s because we have a group deal. I’ve been saying that I’ve been having breakfast but I haven’t told you what I eat. Today I had a big bowl of cereal with milk and some bread and butter. To drink I had an orange juice and another orange juice.
Every single sentence here is just amazing. He FOLLOWS UP on the breakfast prices, says he’s getting a “group deal,” then goes into detail about his meal. “To drink I had an orange juice and another orange juice.” BUT DID IT HAVE PULP, RAFA? THE FANS MUST KNOW IF THERE IS PULP.
As many of you know my match, which was scheduled third or fourth from 11 on Suzanne Lenglen court, was canceled. So you may ask what I do all day? I had a warm-up hit with another player and then you wait and wait and wait till it’s your turn to play. Unfortunately my turn did not come today.
I went to the ATP office a few times. It was funny because the father of Vince Spadea was there and so was the coach of Youzhny – Boris. Spadea’s father used to be an opera singer. So the guy started singing opera in the ATP office. It was great; it was funny. To prove it they took a picture so you can see for yourself. Spadea’s father is on the left with his hands. I hope next time I have a video recorder. That was the fun part of the day.
THAT. IS. AMAZING.
But today was one of the worst days I’ve ever had. Not because of the weather but because as my match was getting closer to going on court (this was before I knew it would be canceled) I suddenly realized that the strings I normally use were not in my racquet. For those of you who know tennis you realize that if you put different string in your racquet it is a disaster. In practice I didn’t know what was happening. The balls were going one meter from where I wanted.
I’m not sure what went wrong but I think they may have sent the wrong strings – which were much thinner – from the factory. When I realized I was very nervous and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to play. Carlos Costa my manager managed to find me the string I normally use and I managed to get three racquets strung. I normally would go on court with five or six racquets, but three would have allowed me to play. So I’m still looking for more of my real string. Believe me guys I was very scared. It’s the first time that this has happened to me… and it happens at Roland Garros!
ONE OF THE WORST DAYS I’VE EVER HAD. Opponents, take note.
I’ve been reading some of your comments about my blog on one of the web pages. Believe me, it is me doing it. I’m not physically writing it, I don’t have the skills to write so fast. But I talk to someone from the ATP and he types it in English. My team and I have been talking about doing a blog since January or February. We thought the best time to do it was during Roland Garros. It is me doing it and I enjoy it.
Some of you have asked me to do a flog – a photo blog. So here you go… I got someone to take a few pictures of me today. Here they are: me in the ATP office, me at transportation, me at the hotel.
Great flog, Rafa. Classic.
Also, people have asked me about my diet. I don’t have a special diet but obviously I have to take care with what I eat. I eat pasta, meat and pizza. One thing I don’t like is tomato. Even with pasta I prefer to have it without tomato. Also, I don’t like cheese. Some people tell me I will like it when I get older but for the moment I don’t like it.
…obviously I have to take care with what I eat. I eat pasta, meat and pizza.
…obviously I have to take care with what I eat. I eat pasta, meat and pizza.
…obviously I have to take care with what I eat. I eat pasta, meat and pizza.
And who doesn’t like cheese? I don’t trust the intentions of people who don’t like cheese.
Friday, June 2, 2006
You may not know but there is a rule that says we must do our press conference no more than 30 minutes after the match, but I find it difficult to be ready.
Yes, Rafa. We’ve noticed. TIME VIOLATION.
On top of that I also had to do a promotion for the ATP Magazine DEUCE, where I took a photo with Kim Clijsters. I really like Kim a lot, she is very nice and she makes fun of me with my English – in a nice way. So when they asked me to take a picture with a WTA player I suggested Kim because she is really, really nice.
This makes me feel like Rafa and I would get along really well, because making fun of people is literally the only way I show my niceness.
Oh, I almost forgot, I did a promotion for ESPN television – they are doing a profile on me. I know the cameraman because he travels to a lot of the Masters Series events, so that always makes it easier. Hi Matt! I also watched a little bit of Moya’s match, he lost, which doesn’t make very happy. I didn’t have a chance to see him after his match because I had left already but we exchanged message on the phone.
I love how Rafa remembers people’s names. Do you think he has a mnemonic device to help him? “Masters Series Matt,” or something like that?
No, you’re right, he just has Benito.
People think my life is very glamorous, particularly here in Paris, but it’s not always so. Tonight there is a big IMG party where there will be lots of glamorous models but with a 10am pickup in the morning to go to the site I won’t be able to go to the party, I need the sleep. My manager Carlos Costawho works for IMG will be going, but he has told his wife, so that’s okay!
I’m not sure that turning down an invitation to a party with glamorous models so that you can defend your French Open title means your life isn’t glamorous, Rafa.
Saturday, June 3, 2006
Here I am again on a very special day. As you know today it was my 20th birthday. That means I am no longer a teenager!!! Not sure if that’s good or bad.
A birthday blog!
Well, it was a special day: My birthday and a very difficult match. I knew it was going to be difficult and therefore I was a bit nervous before the match. To play a French player at home is never easy and on top of that Paul-Henri plays great tennis as everyone has seen. Sometimes people think it is easy for us, but believe me it is very difficult.
I never realized that crazy PHM match took place on Rafa’s 20th birthday. Rafa and I are one week apart (he’s older, which is why he’s so much more accomplished, duh) and my 20th birthday was spent drunk and crying in Prague because gypsies stole my purse with my passport and all my money. That’s pretty similar to playing a marathon match at the French Open and being adored by millions.
I warmed up again with Martin del Potro. For those of you who don’t know him, he is a very tall Argentinean player that plays really good. I think he is over 1m 90. You will hear that name in the future.
Rafael Nadal: scout.
My uncle Toni and his wife and daughter were there as well. Toni came close to me and put the cake on my face. Thank God it was a hard one and it did not stay. The funny thing was that the candles where like rockets and I got pretty scared since the fire was pretty big. We all drank some of the champagne and ate the cake with the media and organizers. This is very nice of them and I want to thank them. Last year my birthday was also in this tournament and I remember that Pau Gasol brought in the cake into the press conference room. I still remember it.
Yup, pretty much just like my birthdays.
Apparently my team had booked a table at a very nice restaurant in Paris to celebrate the birthday but since it was so late they had to cancel it (I was also very tired) and we decided to go to the pizzeria we have been going to these days. I ate some fried gambas with rice and some grilled fish (loup in French).
Because he has to watch what he eats.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
The day after the birthday was a bit rough. That’s something Rafa and I have in common:
My day actually started last night – as you know we got back from my birthday dinner pretty late, probably around 1 am. Then I got a massage in the room and I fell to sleep on the table. Juanan didn’t want to wake me up so he just left me there. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized what had happened. Luckily for me I didn’t fall off the table and I just put myself into bed.
I am just dying laughing at the thought of Rafa waking up in the middle of the night on the table. I’m sure he handled that with grace.
Eventually though he got a good night of sleep and made it to the site.
During the stretching I watched some of the other matches – including Roger’s – you have some pictures of it.
Date number three! And there’s a picture! Rafa’s such a good flogger.
Oh, one thing I forgot to say is that I had a little scare today, nothing serious and not as bad as when I had the wrong strings a few days ago. When we picked up Toni I was in the first row of seats in the minivan. And in moving to the back row of the minivan I hit my shin on the van door. It hurt a bit and there is a bit of a bump, but it’s nothing serious.
I’m pretty sure that Rafa and I have a very different definition of the word “scare.” Also? BE CAREFUL RAFA. Sheesh. At least it wasn’t as serious and not as bad as when he had the wrong strings. Perspective.
Monday, June 5, 2006
Well, I start each post telling you what time I get picked up to go to the site and the same old thing… Well… why should I change today?
You should not, Rafa. You should not.
I went to the site at 10 today. Let me explain to you guys a few things. Why do we get picked up at 10 when I am scheduled second match in the afternoon? The answer is that if you are playing second you need to be on site when the first match starts because in the Order of Play it says that your match ‘follows’ the first match. That means if something unexpected happens you have to be ready to go and play and if you’re not there they can disqualify you. That’s important to know, as you will see later.
After my warm-up hit I went upstairs for a light lunch of pasta and salad and to my surprise the first match between Beto Martin and Benneteau ended in the first set when Beto Martin had to retire, as you know. There I am panicking again, rushing to the locker room as we only have 30 minutes to get ready and go on court, and I was still having lunch! I should have been in the locker room waiting but I thought, everyone thought, the match would be longer.
It’s important that we all know where we were the exact moment when Julien Benneteau made the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. A pivotal life moment for us all. Also, Rafa really cannot be blamed for thinking a Benny match would last a very, very long time.
I won’t go into my match because you can read about that in the paper or the internet. But there was an unusual incident with a ballboy during the match. The poor boy got hit by the ball and I can tell you those balls can hurt. We were playing and I could see him bleeding so I had to stop the match, I talked to the umpire and suggested they get him out of the court. I hope he is doing okay. Most of the players have probably all been ballboys at one point, so we feel for them.
I’m attaching a picture of myself at the end of the match talking to Alex Corretja, who is always there after my matches. And right after walking off the court there is a wall running along the stairs were all the players who played on center court sign. I signed it two days ago and again today. I don’t know why I signed it twice, but anyway… Here is the picture above.
This picture is everything. PS: I wonder how many times he’s signed the wall by now. It’s probably all Nadal signatures.
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Hi everyone again,
It’s now a lot of days that I’ve been writing, no?
Well, let me start by saying that yesterday I fell asleep pretty late. I was very tired and I could not sleep. I don’t know why, maybe because of the match with Hewitt but it is true that when I am very tired I have trouble falling asleep. I don’t remember what time it was, but I was pretty tired. That means I woke up pretty late. I hope I’m not offending anyone by saying that I woke up at 12.45.
You’ve offended me, Rafa. Greatly. How dare you suggest that 12:45 is not a completely normal time to get up?
That has been about it today. I am feeling a little tired, but that is normal. I’ve played a lot of matches and it’s been a week and a half in Paris as I arrived here the Thursday before the tournament. But I will be ready to play tomorrow and I know it will be a difficult match against Djokovic. Unless you follow tennis you may not have heard a lot about him but he is a very dangerous player with a big game and he will have nothing to lose. He’s only 19, so it’s a rare time that I will be playing someone younger than me.
The beginning of the rivalry. Amazing.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
I know that some of you are interested in what I eat, so I will tell you. Tonight I had a huge entrecout with a lot of french fries and to drink I had cola. That was it. We went to a place where all they served was meat and french fries.
I have no idea why Rafa hasn’t signed a deal for a diet book yet.
Meanwhile, at dinner …
We talked also about the matches we have been seeing and also about women’s tennis. I heard Toni and Carlos talking about the semifinals, who will come from my people. I won’t get into the tickets, they are handling that, but I know we will need more tickets than normal.
Oops, I forgot to say that I had a massage before dinner, but you know that is normal.
Ooops! Thank goodness you remembered to tell us, Rafa!
Next to us there was a table full of a big family from Argentina, maybe 2 or 3 families. The little boy with them had a t-shirt of FC Barcelona. They came to our table and we took pictures and autographs. One funny thing happened today. One guy came to the table to take a picture and I asked him if I took a picture with him yesterday. He said, “Yes, but I want a second picture.”
I love that Rafa calls out fans. I hope he still does that today. “Didn’t you take a picture with me after the 2008 US Open second Round match, the 2010 Indian Wells quarterfinal, and my 2011 Cincinnati practice session with Gasquet on Court 2?”
We stepped out of the restaurant and there were some people outside so we took pictures and signed autographs. Then everyone started following us as we started walking back to the hotel. I guess they know me here.
I guess so.
PS: Thanks to all my fans that have been giving me presents during these past days. It is very nice of you. Today I got my last one but I also heard that my team got insulted without a reason. If you really respect and support me I would like you to understand and respect my team, since they do the best of the jobs. Thanks again.
Rafa gets protective. I love it.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Some of you might ask how I go from the player lounge on one side of the site to the TV compound on the other side. You know what, I ran over there. I don’t like being surrounded by security. Sometimes it is necessary but sometimes I feel it’s better to go on your own and make a little run.
Run, Rafa. Run!
So it was a pretty easy day. You might think that this guy only talks about things I’ve done and not what goes through my mind or any bad things that happen during the day. But that’s just me, that’s my style. I prefer to keep some of those moments to myself.
If Rafa didn’t keep things to himself, the blog would have been 80,000 words. At least. That’s just his style.
I had a very late lunch on site. I had a big, big dish of pasta with salmon. When I say ‘big’ I mean really, really big.
When Rafa says big, he means really, really, really, really, really, really big.
At lunch I also had a chance to see on the computer the feature ESPN did for Roland Garros. I have to say they did a good job, so congrats guys.
Friday, June 9, 2006
How can I start today’s post? Should I start with the match or the aftermatch… I don’t know where to start.
Wherever you’d like, Rafa!
The first thing is the happiness of being back in theRoland Garros finals and now being sure of finishing the year at least in the Top 5 and also increasing the possibility that I can fight for No. 2 at the end of the year.
Yes, that’s a good place to start.
Another reason for being happy is most of my family arrived today to see the semifinal match. And as you all know I am a big family boy, so I like that.
My father, mother, sister, my uncle Rafa and his wife, my uncle Miguel Angel, all of them arrived today and that makes me very happy. Here is a picture with me and all my family at dinner. We went for dinner together and then for an ice cream.
I wonder if the whole family follows Rafa’s diet plan … I know I would.
Again, I won’t talk about the match, but the more interesting stuff. You can see me above with a picture of the mayor of Manacor, my home town. The mayor arrived last night and came today to the match and I am happy for that because he is the number one citizen of the city. After the match he came into the locker room, to tell you the truth I don’t know how he managed to get in as security is very tight at Roland Garros and it is very difficult to get into the locker room. But we took a picture and I thanked him for coming.
The mayor and his sneaky ways.
Pretty sure a lot of people would push past security to get a picture like that.
Roger said today in his press conference that we are the number 1 and 2 players on clay and that is right. That proves what I have been saying for few weeks. He is an excellent player on clay, he is number 1 and he is the best. Those who say he cannot play on clay, he has proven that is not right.
At the same time I think of myself as someone who prefers to play on clay but who is also competitive on other surfaces. I definitely need to learn more how to play on grass and I definitely want to do that, but before that we have this final on Sunday, which I am sure is going to be great.
Date number four! Or I think it’s four … I’ve lost count.
In this picture below you can see me here with a ATP staffer who I have been told is someone who knows a lot of about tennis and is a genius of stats and his name is Greg. I have also been told by other people at the ATP that work with me that he is a great guy. This picture of Greg is also a tribute to the other staff who we don’t see.
Even Rafa is charmed by the awesomeness that is Greg Sharko. Perfection.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Well, what can I say? Tonight is the night before the big day. Tomorrow I am playing my second final at Roland Garros and I guess we all agree it is some kind of a special final with Roger. Here I am dictating my blog, which as you know gets written in English and then gets translated back into Spanish. Don’t ask me why we do it like this!
Just the night before a big date, dictating my diary.
To tell you the truth what I tried to do all day is take it as another normal day. That helps me more and maybe it’s a way to forget what is going to happen tomorrow. Or maybe it is a way to have a normal day. I don’t know. Here is a photo of me at breakfast, having bread with chocolate cream.
Just a normal day, eating bread and chocolate cream, the breakfast of Champions. I wonder if he had orange juice and another glass of orange juice too.
The fact is the ATP had arranged for me to do a photo shoot and video filming at a bridge near my hotel and so I went there, half an hour later than expected, so I have to apologize to the photographers and TV crews.
Sorry I was late. I was eating chocolate for breakfast. A really, really, really, really lot of chocolate.
I did see Roger today. He practiced after me. When he was going on court I was signing autographs so all we did was exchange looks and say ‘hello.’
Ohmygod — always embarrassing when you run into your date BEFORE the actual date when your hair isn’t done or anything. Awkward!
I can also say that I was forwarded a message by Ljubicic. It was nice to receive it. The message said something like ‘Don’t get me wrong. I would like Federer to win because I have a closer friendship with him, but that’s it.’
HAHAHAHAHA. What a gracious apology, Ljubicic. Glad that’s cleared up. (Rafa is referring to this.)
It was really hot out there today. You could really feel the sun and a little wind. There were a lot of people at the practice court, so maybe next year they should schedule us to practice on a bigger court 🙂 But jokes aside I got my hit and again I had some media scheduled.
I can’t stop wondering how Rafa conveyed the emoticon, since he was dictating this blog. Did he say, “smiley face” at the end of his sentence? Was this an editorial decision? Did he laugh at his own joke? Did he really say “but jokes aside?” Did he really think that was a joke? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Since we were running an hour or hour and a half late, I was scheduled to do a round table with the Spanish written media, so I did it while I was eating. Here I am grabbing a dish of pasta today with curry sauce from the restuarant and an entrecote with french fries and going upstairs to the player lounge to sit down with the Spanish fellows. By that time it was already 5.15 and as I wrote in my post yesterday I wanted to be back at the hotel by 4.30.
I’m sure all of the journalists were very, very shocked to know that you were running late, Rafa.
I got back to the hotel and you can imagine now that it’s not just my family here to support me but a lot of people from Mallorca, including the president of the Island and a whole bunch of people. The president had prepared dinner for a lot of people but I prefer to stay at the hotel. One, it would probably be a mess to go out to dinner with over 30 people and also I wanted to watch the World Cup match with Argentina. We just called the place that we have been going for dinner all these days and asked if they could bring stuff to the hotel. It was me, uncle Toni, uncle Miguel Angel and Tuts from Nike. I had fried gambas and fried calamari and also a pizza.
All the necessary food groups.
So I know some of you ask that if I don’t like tomato and I don’t like cheese, what is in the pizza I eat? I don’t like sliced tomato but of course I have tomato sauce on the pizza base. I had a napolitana pizza which had anchovies and tomato sauce, but I took off the green capers (alcaparras).
My 11-year-old cousin removes anything green from his food too, Rafa. Twinsies!
As you can see it was a normal day, although probably busier than normal, but this is the way I like to spend the day – it goes quicker. I can’t deny that I did spend some time today thinking about the final and tomorrow I probably will be a little nervous. If I win, great, if I don’t then there will probably be another chance. It definitely won’t be a tragedy.
Getting the wrong strings and bumping your knee on the minivan: tragedy. Losing a final: not a tragedy. Glad that’s settled.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Sorry guys, but I have had no time to write the blog tonight. I hope you understand. But I promise I will write a blog tomorrow while I am traveling by train to London and you can see how much stuff I have to give you. I am going to London to play singles and doubles at Queen’s.
What a jerk.
Monday, June 12, 2006
So hi everyone and also farewell. This is my last post and it comes one day later than expected, but as I said yesterday I just couldn’t make it – you can imagine how crazy the day was and how happy I was. I couldn’t believe it.
We can’t really imagine, Rafa. Why don’t you tell us about it?
When the match was over I needed to get into the stands as quickly as I could to hug my family. To me the family is everything and I wanted to hug my uncles, my mother and especially my father. And I will tell you what I told him. I said to my father, “Daddy, thanks for everything,” and we just cried. I guess that’s why he didn’t want to release me – because he didn’t want people to see that he was crying. It was a special moment.
I’m crying just reading that. Gosh.
I got my trophy and when I was having my briefing before getting the trophy I had mentioned to Benito of the ATP that I would talk a lot about Roger, so I did. I gave my speech in Spanish. When in the second sentence I said how great Roger is people were booing. I didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe something had happened or maybe they misunderstood the translation. Afterwards we all realized the translator did not say what I said. The crowd thought I was talking about myself. It was just a misunderstanding. I was praising Roger, not myself, and I will always praise Roger because he is a great guy and a great champion.
Always awkward when the post-date goodbyes get mistranslated.
Anyway, to tell the story short, we left the site around 10.45 with all my family waiting in the hotel. We had scheduled to go to the Spanish embassy… that is a tradition to say hi to the ambassador. We got there very late at 11.20, so I have to apologize, as that’s not the right time to go into anyone’s house.
I just love the thought of Rafa ringing the doorbell at the embassy late at night, and the disgruntled and confused ambassador answering in his robe. I’m sure that’s exactly what happened. King Juan Carlos was probably there too.
There we had all my family, all my friends who came, all my sponsors we had invited to be there with us. It was great. What did I eat? I had a carpccio salmon and chicken with curry and rice. I was so hungry, you cannot believe it. Really hungry. So I had a lot to eat.
Winning the French Open makes you hungry. Really hungry. So you eat a lot.
Then after dinner we went to a place to have a couple of drinks and move a little bit the body. But not much as you know I am already in London writing this blog. This last blog.
move a little bit the body
move a little bit the body
move a little bit the body
But we had to do a picture pretty quickly and then rushed back to hotel, got our luggage and then went to the train station. It was scheduled at 1.04pm, we got to the station at 12.55 pm. The bookings were done but they were too slow giving us the tickets, so we missed the train and believe me guys, this is no good. We were there for two hours waiting, but what can you do? You just wait. We caught the train and then had the chance to sleep a little bit. We were just in normal seats, not a sleeper cabin, as it was only a three hour trip.
The train doesn’t stop for anyone, not even the two-time French Open champion. Depressing and comforting at the same time.
We got to London and my first thoughts were, What do I do now? Well, I’m going to practice. I got to the hotel, quickly got changed, went to practice and here I am writing the blog…
Rafa, you really lied when you said your life wasn’t glamorous. How much more glamorous could it get?
Anyway, I just wanted to say before finishing the post thank you all for reading it, for being there and supporting me. I haven’t had time to read all the comments you have been posting but I promise I will read them all… I just don’t know how long it will take me!
Somewhere on a plane from Indian Wells to Mallorca, Rafael Nadal is keeping his promise and still trying to read all of the comments on his 2006 blog. He’s about 1/3 of the way through. His seven-month vacation helped him get caught up.
Seven Things I Learned from Nadal’s Blog:
1. Just to reiterate, he is my 11-year-old cousin.
2. He has an insane attention to detail.
3. He’s really polite. The fact that even in his blog he took the time to call out so many individual staff members and people he encountered really says a lot. Skeptics (which I am often) will say that he had help, but I think through time we’ve seen enough examples of this to know that he really does care.
4. He can make fun of himself. This is good to remember.
5. However, he doesn’t always have the most self-awareness. But we knew that already.
6. He has always loved Federer.
7. If he was not a tennis player he would surely be in the process of being recruited for the next season of “The Biggest Loser.”
What did you guys learn? What blog should I look at next week? Please suggest someone who isn’t as long-winded as Rafa.