Google Down the Line!: (UPDATED) Rafa waxes philosophical, felt "emptiness and a loneliness" after Oz Open win

Friday, April 3, 2009

(UPDATED) Rafa waxes philosophical, felt "emptiness and a loneliness" after Oz Open win

Big thanks to DtL reader whynotme for sending me (and translating) the link to this French interview featuring Rafael Nadal published today on L'

The Mallorcan Matador, who was stunned in Miami yesterday, is asked a series of questions based on the idea of "If you were...".

Check out this question and his very surprising (at least to me) answer -

Q : If you were... a person you hope to meet?

A : Roger Federer. When I was young, I always had this dream : I was at the bottom of a huge mountain and I was looking at the top. When I beat Roger Federer in January, in Melbourne, in the final of the Australian Open, I felt an animal excitement. But afterwards, I felt an emptiness and a loneliness indescribable. As if I had no more aim/no more purpose. To me, Federer is still the number 1 in the world. I want to meet him again on court. I know he can beat me.

It seems, if this interview is to be believed, he may be lacking some motivation right now since he's now dominating the baller who he considers to be the best ever. So, in his mind, what's left? Is it better to dominate your greatest rival or to be challenged, and defeated, at times along the way?? Rafa seems to lean towards the latter.

I actually find this perspective incredibly refreshing. Most athletes want to win, win, win and aim for the ultimate prize only. Rafa, though, may be looking at the battles themselves with Fed as the biggest prize of 'em all.

UPDATE: Here's the entire Q & A translated into English. Forgive the Google translation!
World No. 1 tennis player, it erodes his opponents with his shot lifts overpowering. Yet this young man of 22 years is also a model of simplicity, the disarming sweetness. Qualities that may have prompted a home fragrances begin to do so in another career: that of his new muse water toilet, Lanvin l'Homme Sport.

If you were ... A place of celebration

My island, Majorca, where I grew up. My ancestors came to settle in the fourteenth century! Always there with my family in the house where I was born. My grandparents live in the ground floor. My uncle Toni [coach] is on the second. My parents live in the third. And I share the top floor with my sister, Maria Isabel.


My strength, I can not always control it. My grandmother watches all my games on TV with his girlfriend of 80 years. One of them told him: "He hits hard, but with great politeness."


I love Spanish pop groups like La Oreja de Van Gogh and singers like Alejandro Sanz and Julio Iglesias. Before all my matches I m'isoler with my iPod. I have a ritual: before playing, it is imperative that I listen to a song from the musical Phantom of the Paradise.

A book

La Cité des dieux sauvages, Isabel Allende. I am very touched by the commitment of the writer. Since the departure of Pinochet, she returned to Chile and fight for the rights of his people.

A landscape that creates the dream

I was 4 years old when my father raised me on a fishing boat to take me to the other side of the island. The land to the sea .. There is nothing more beautiful. When I stopped tennis, I buy a boat to spend the rest of my days. This will be a motorboat. I love the speed.

A meeting that you hope

Roger Federer. Small, I was a dream: I was at the foot of a huge mountain and I looked at the top. When I beat Federer in January, in Melbourne, in the final of the Australian Open, I felt excitement animal. But then I felt an emptiness and a loneliness indescribable, as if I had no other purpose. For me Federer is still the No. 1 worldwide. I want to meet again on the court. I know it can beat me.

A word that serves as a motto

Gandhi said: "I do not like the word tolerance, but I can find no better."

A table

I have taken a passion for a painter of Majorca, Ricard Chiang. It is very strange paintings, black and silver, which are forests, crucifixes, caravels ...

A revolt

Success will not change my life. My room is still the same, my friends are guys I met at school, my girlfriend is a friend of my sister. Holidays in Monaco or St. Barth I'm not interested.

A garment that makes it beautiful

I know nothing about the fashion trends, but like all Spaniards and Italians, I choose what I wear. Holding my favorite: jeans, a white shirt, a jacket and tailored Santiage.

(image via getty)


  1. Sounds to me like Rafa likes to be challenged and he considers Fed the ultimate challenge and motivation. They are great for the game and have so much respect for each other. This is further proof that it's lonely at the top, which may be the reason why so many falter once they get there.


  2. It's always said that he's the ultimate competitor, and I believe he is. Now that he's clearly caught and overtaken Fed - now what?

    Aww poor Rafa. Hopefully someone reminds him that he hasn't won the US Open so that motivates him more.

  3. Lisa: GREAT point with the "lonely at the top" reference. He's def speaking to that point with his words.

  4. I've often felt that Rafa couldn't ever say he's a better player than Roger because he needs that goal to chase and wondered what would happen if he ever felt he'd achieved that goal. Very interesting. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Rafa,
    I got your motivation right here.

  6. I know he can beat me.
    It feels like he's saying - I need him to beat me.

  7. Quite a humbling excerpt to say the least. I wish I could read French because it seems like the French Press always has some interesting stories that no other media outlets pick up on.

  8. Maybe he was just really, really sad to see his childhood idol reduced to tears? I'm trying to think how I'd feel if I'd met James Bond or Madonna and then made them cry. . .I guess I'd feel bad. . .

  9. I agree freakyfrites. I think that was hard on him, as well as the thought that the scenario could be played out several more times. Not necessarily the tears, but the idea of defeating your idol.

    I've read the rest of the interview and it's quite amazing. He quotes Ghandi and talks about Isabelle Allende's writing.

  10. wow, what a revealing article. he's such a teddy bear with this captivating quietness about him. dang rafa, if possible i like you even more LOL! i also agree with ff that the Oz outburst was hard on him. such an awkward moment, yet he managed to be so kind. i was like "AGH!" when he lost to delpo yesterday, but now i'm more just hoping that rafa is OK :)

  11. This is so beautiful! That's what is missing on WTA tour, most of these women want to win (title, match, tournament) but they don't enjoy competition, they dread the competition, they don't look forward to meet the opponent! They don't respect the opponents, they think of themselfes as so much better then the rest of the field, and try to avoid difficult matches, difficult opponents! The value is on the winning, not on competing! They're forgetting the basic true - which Rafa understands so well - it is the good competitor which brings the best in you! There is no winner without the looser - and I hate this word, that person who you beat, that second in line! Without him/her you are nothing!

  12. Thank you for this post. I love him so much.

  13. Just when I thought I couldn't love him more.


  14. Lovely Rafito. Too bad that more of his non-English interviews do not get transplated, he's actually really deep guy, with calm maturity beyond his age. And well spoken, too.

    Great photo with that French article linked - the other, even better version of his Lanvin ad pic. Expressive face. Hot bod. (What else is new?)

  15. I love this side of Rafa. Like Rich, I find it refreshing and it jives with what he has said before. He might like the challenge, the fight for the win more than the win itself.

    If anyone still had any doubts as to his sincerity when he calls Roger 'the best', I think they should be quelled by this interview. Roger hasn't been displaying his best lately but Nadal (and Uncle Toni too) measures Fed's greatness by more than the daily grind. They take into account his history and what his game is when flowing on all four cylinders. They know he's still dangerous, if not as reliable as a Swiss timepiece. I, of course, hope Rafa rarely, if ever, loses to Fed again. Rafa hopes for this too, I'm sure, but it doesn't keep him from hungering for the challenge.

    Don't worry, Rafa, Murray's trying to come up the pike quick enough to give you (and everyone else) a scare.

  16. I feel like teeny tiny hearts are flying off of this interview. Aw. :)

    I'll sail around the Mediterranean with him if he needs someone to apply sunscreen or polish his trophies or you know, whatever...

    On a serious note (wait, that was serious!) I almost wonder if the losses at tournaments where he has never won before aren't making him a little more agitated. His goals are being achieved in pretty good time. He spent SO long chasing number one. This is one event where he's never fully dug his nails into and captured, but wants so much.

    It has to be a surreal feeling to have a dream like wanting to win Wimbledon someday - and DOING it. I can't imagine how that must feel. My only dream come true comparison was my desire to see him play live on clay, and I did (now to see it in Paris someday...)

    I guess my rambling point is, these last few Masters that he hasn't won and that elusive USO might be extra painful to deal with when you're SO close to the finish line.

  17. Why nadal its not only Roger who is your competetion...Now theres Murray and Novak too out to grab your ass from the nos 1 ranking.I just hope that you keep up being the nos 1 for so long.Just look what has been happening with ROGER.Its not easy right?Think you could handle it?

  18. A better translation of that bit on his clothes:

    Ma tenue préférée: un jean, une chemise blanche, une veste sur mesure et des santiags.

    My favourite outfit: jeans, white dress shirt, jacket made to measure and cowboy boots.

  19. 'animal excitement'? How fortunate that he didn't tried to eat Federer, his pray.

  20. 'prey' you mean...

    loved the article. rafito never fails to surprise us :)


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