Rafael Nadal – ‘I Do Not See Myself As A Role Model’
Rafael Nadal may have 16 grand slam titles to his name, but he will be the first person to honestly point out that he is far from perfect.
Earlier this month the Spaniard continued his successful 2017 season by claiming the US Open, his fifth title of the year. After struggling with injuries in previous years, Nadal has managed to regain his form to rise back to the top of the Emirates rankings. Some have hailed the comeback of the Spaniard as inspirational, but Nadal himself is far less modest.
“I am a normal and a common person. I do not see myself as a role model of anything,” Nadal told El Espanol. “I am a guy who plays tennis well. Things have worked out great, but I took it as something normal, as my family and people around me did. I have tried to have the right attitude on and off the court. But I make mistakes like everyone else. I am not the perfect son.”
It is hard to say that Nadal isn’t a role model for the sport. Besides his 74 trophies won on the ATP Tour, he has a massive fan base. Illustrated by a social media portfolio of 14.1 million Twitter followers and 14.7 Facebook likes. According to a study conducted by Francesc Pujol, professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Navarra, Nadal was the most popular athlete in the entire 2016 Spanish Olympic team. The study measured athlete’s popularity on the internet and social media.
The Moya partnership
Reflecting upon his year so far, Nadal has praised the addition of close friend Carlos Moya to his team. Moya, who won the 1998 French Open, joined forces with the Spaniard in December.
“Carlos has been a great support,” said Nadal. “He came with excitement and also the belief that with a few things, I could improve my results. And it has helped. It has been a breath of fresh air, positive energy. We have changed the way we practise and for Toni (Nadal) it has been also good.”
At the age of 31, change doesn’t come easy for Nadal. Although he believes Moya has managed to make it straightforward for him to adjust. Next year Nadal is set to travel the tour without the full commitment of lifetime coach Toni Nadal, who will be stepping aside to focus on other projects.
“When you have the same routine for years it’s difficult to change,” said Nadal. “Carlos has been someone new who arrived in Mallorca to our daily practice sessions with new ideas, more specific ones. When someone new arrives, it’s easier to listen because it’s something different. And for Toni, having Carlos’ reinforcement when he had to talk to me, has made everything much easier. They have been a great team and I am very satisfied with their job, with the three of them.”
Nadal’s partnership with Moya could be one that extends onto the tour in 2018. Previously they have paired up in doubles tournaments with their best performance reaching the quarterfinals of the Italian Open in 2007. It was at that tournament where they defeated Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer in the first round.
“If Carlos is healthy we could play and be competitive,” said Nadal. “We’ll see. Depends on the schedule. I play a few tournaments when it comes to doubles, only when I think it will help me in singles. Normally I play at the beginning of the season or at a specific tournament.”
Whilst the future looks bright, Nadal is focusing on aiming to end the year on a high. As well as trying to become the year-end No.1 for the first time since 2013, he is also targeting the ATP Finals in London. An event that Nadal is yet to win in his career.
“My goal is to finish the season healthy and then see if we can improve things for 2018.” He stated. “Today I am focused on what I have to do now: play well during the Asian swing and try to get ready for the last part of the season. That’s the only important thing for me right now.”
Nadal will return to competitive tennis at the China Open next week.