Nice article from ESPN The Magazine on Rafa. No shock that they love him. He's precisely the type of athlete they like to put on their cover.
It's always fun to read different writers' take on Rafa. There's never anything substantively new and the essence is always the same, but the way they choose to articulate it is almost always different.
And still Nadal is something of a mystery. He is an international heartthrob in clam diggers. He does everything righthanded -- except play tennis. Asked to describe the moment of winning Wimbledon, Nadal says, "I only remember this." And here he does something unexpected: He closes his eyes and opens his mouth wide in a silent scream of exhilaration, then tosses his head and arms back against the cushions of the couch, re-creating the moment in which he lay on the court, victorious and exhausted.
The reenactment was surprising, but not the economy of the description. He has a savant's ability to distill a problem into its purest elements. Along with warlike intensity and supreme athletic ability, clarity of purpose is one of his defining attributes.
A rain delay before the fifth set sent the players to the locker room. There, Nadal's uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, was met with a burst of his nephew's clarity. "I won the first two sets, so why can't I win another?" Rafa asked. In his mind, he faced the same situation he had faced from the third set on. "What has changed from two sets ago? Every time I am one set away from winning. This is the same: One more set, and I win."
So armed with inarguable logic, he took the court with one goal: make Federer beat him. "My feeling was, Roger can beat me, but I'm not going to have a mistake," Nadal says. "If he beats me, it's because he is playing well, not because I made a mistake." (True to his word, Nadal committed seven unforced errors to Federer's 16 in the fifth set.) He shrugs and adds, "And so I won," as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
And perhaps my favorite part:
"This is why I don't change," he says. "In my humble opinion, change is stupid. Now people want to know me. But in five or six years, I'll be a regular person. That's the business. If you can't accept that, you're going to have a problem."
Sure, but what about a new house or his own island? He shakes his head and dismisses the idea with a wave of his hypertrophic left arm.
"Why change if you have perfect?"
Inarguable logic, indeed.