Between packing and unpacking, institutional and private commitments and various trips, who is already considered the best Spanish athlete of all time, Rafa Nadal from Manacor, recently reincorporated to his training sessions in Mallorca, has been able to make a hole in his agenda to answer Mallorca Global’s questions on personal and sporting aspects, on how he faces the pandemic and combines it with the daily demands of the sport’s elite in one of its most successful seasons. Amid the great uncertainty surrounding the ATP calendar due to the coronavirus, his next match, the Australian Open, which was to be played in midJanuary, is delayed to February. This year’s calendar is complicated.
Text: J. E. Iglesias. Palma
Photos: Richard Mille / Renaud Corlouer
Has the pandemic altered your life a lot? What changes have you had to make, in your team, your training sessions, food, visits to family, friends…?
I believe that the pandemic has affected us all and has altered our lives in a remarkable way. It is clear that the first thought and the words are for those directly affected, who are those who were sick, those who are still sick, and especially the families of the many deceased who are not few. A tragedy. The rest is relative and that we have to change routines, that we have suffered alterations in our lives, in the end that goes to the background. Now we have to think about rebuilding everything, that people heal, that the pandemic ends and that we can recover our freedom.
How and with whom does a global leader like you isolate himself due to COVID-19? How many times have you had to do PCR tests?
It is impossible to isolate yourself completely in a world like sports. After all, you are in competition and in contact with people. We maintain strict prevention and safety standards and it is true that we do a lot of PCR checks every 3/4 days at tournaments.
So far in this sense everything has gone well and we have been fortunate to be able to compete.
There are very complicated matches, but there is always an option”
I suppose that your balance of the season, despite being different, will be positive, given the results, right?
Of course it is an atypical season, where more than half the year we have been without competing, but, as I say, after all, fortunate compared to other sectors and even sports. But looking at the results, taking everything into account, I think it was a season where I managed to win Roland Garros in very different and complicated circumstances and where I was able to reach the 20 Grand Slams victories. Also very happy for the triumph in Acapulco at the beginning of the season and that it was the last tournament and last point played before the pandemic. [Nadal obtained in Acapulco 2020 the record of consecutive seasons -17- winning some title of the Open era].
Rafa Nadal is an indisputable benchmark of honour. But how many times have you thought about throwing in the towel due to injury, pressure or excessive dedication? – At what point in a game can you be defeated?
My career can be considered long due to the number of years on the circuit. But it is clear that I have gone through good times and others less good. Moments in which you have doubts, pain of everything, but everything is to overcome it. These are difficult moments, but also there the help of the closest people, family, team, friends counts a lot. And as regards the matches, in tennis the match does not end until the last point and you have to fight until the end because there is always the possibility of winning. Of course there are more complicated games, very complicated, but there is always an option.
Have you ever felt pressured by your environment?
Never. Quite the opposite. I have always had immense support from my family and my environment. I am very grateful for it and I think that is how it has to be, especially when you are a child and the only important thing is to have fun, giving always your best shot but having fun.
“I have never felt pressured by my surroundings, quite the opposite”
What do you value more: your head and ability to overcome or your physique?
I think that in the world of tennis everything goes together, it is not a question of one thing or another. Both have to go well combined to win games.
Do you enjoy tennis as much now as when it started to emerge?
I really enjoy the competition, I always liked it and I keep that passion intact.