June, 2006: Interview writen by Nathalia Merino

The world showers Rafa with praise as it finds itself in the presence of a phenomenon with unknown limits: A guy who only knows how to win, who does the impossible – possible, who
destroys anything or anybody that crosses paths with him on a tennis court. A guy who won’t stop smashing records, nor conquering all his dreams.

A lot of people would be amazed to know that – In spite of the fact that the description above makes him out to be the perfect athlete-, Rafa himself thinks he still has a very long road ahead before he can consider himself a great champion. To him, all of his achievements are simply the result of the perseverance and sacrifices that he and his family have made during his whole life.

Precisely in two weeks, he will have the chance to play again the ‘one’ tournament he has worked so hard for and the ‘one’ he wants to win the most. The one and only –most prestigious and most wanted tournament by all the best tennis players in the world- : Wimbledon!

Even though Roger Federer will start as the favorite to win the tournament. Rafa promises to give his best/all that he can and trusts that this year’s participation will be a lot better than on previous occasions.

In the meantime, while the moment of truth gets nearer. RafaelNadal.com wanted to share with all of you –Rafa fans-, an exclusive interview done with the two-time French Open champion during his visit to London, where he played this week’s tournament in Queens and followed the Spanish soccer team in the world cup. Rafa told us what he thinks in regards to everything that has happened in the past week, as well as what his plans are in the near future.

RN.com: Congratulations on your win at Roland Garros Rafa!
You just came back from two intense weeks of play on a very slow surface like clay, and now have very little time to adjust to a very fast surface like grass. How are you feeling, more confortable this time around ?

Rafa: Yes, the truth is that I feel a lot more comfortable because, as player I think I have improved certain aspects of my game.

RN.com: The serve is possibly the most important aspect of the game when you play on grass. Roddick and Federer both have very powerful and effective serves on this surface. Why do you think it is, that in spite of the fact that you are just as tall and physically more powerful than them, your serve is not quite as potent?

Rafa: I don’t think I am stronger than them physically and in any way taller than them. Regardless, the serve is not a matter of strength but more about the technique. I think I have improved this aspect of my game and day by day I learn new things that help me keep improving more. I always say that I’m still young and I have a lot to learn.

RN.com: Do you think that the fact that Roland Garros and Wimbledon are played one after the other - too soon and that there isn’t enough time to adjust to the change in the surface, makes it harder for the winner of the French Open to win both tournaments consecutively?

Rafa: I think there is no doubt that it is one of the reasons, but in no way it is the only factor. Not even the one that determines it, as all the rest of players have the same (tournament) schedule as mine.

RN.com: Normally, you always say that you like to take things slowly and that you don’t like to get ahead of yourself (in terms of tournament results). However, most players always have a goal before entering a tournament, and/or a certain round they would like to reach. (based on their capacities). How far would you like to go this year at Wimbledon?

Rafa: In terms of liking, I would like to reach the final and win it – but I know that it would be very difficult. It is one thing to want something and something totally different knowing that it can be done. I always like to say that you have to take one match at a time, round by round. Any result at Wimbledon would be good as I still keep discovering and learning a lot of things about the game on grass.

RN.com: As you know, Wimbledon is the only tournament that has very strict recommendations regarding the clothing you wear on court. The pirata pants and sleeveless shirts that you wore last year have been put on exhibition at the Wimbledon Museum – for its very special style.
Are you planning to wear the same kind of outfit this year, or are you going to explore something new, like what others players normally wear.

Rafa: Let’s leave that one to the imagination till the tournament starts, no? That way we will create more interest. (*Smiles*)

RN.com: Boris Becker once said that Wimbledon was the tournament that he wanted to win the most when he was young. However, to him, the fact that he won it too early in his career was kind of negative as it left him with no bigger goal to conquer in his career. If you got to win Wimbledon this year, do you have a tournament that you would like to win just as much?

Rafa: They are two completely different things. I have always said that I would love to win Wimbledon, but I know it would be very difficult. Winning Wimbledon is a goal of mine, but in no way is it an obsession, nor the only goal that a player has. Becker won one title after the other and he wanted to win a lot other tournaments as well.
There are always new goals in every player’s career, just like it would be in the case of other people in their jobs.

RN.com: The media and tennis’ sports specialists believe that Roger Federer is invincible on grass. Does the fact that they underestimate you boost your confidence, and/or give you more reasons to want to win it even more?

Rafa: I don’t think they underestimate me in this case. They simply justify their opinion based on the fact that Federer is the best in Wimbledon, and not only there. Federer is possibly the best player that has ever existed, and it is me who has to learn.

RN.com: We know that you have rented a house in London to prepare yourself a week ahead of Wimbledon. Apart from that, are you doing anything special that will also help you in this year’s campaign?

Rafa: Yeah, I played the tournament in Queens, which I think would be great to help me adjust to a new competitive level of play on a surface different to the one I prefer. I will also spend the whole week (before the tournament) in London and I really hope I get to stay for the second week of Wimbledon. It would be a great success.

RN.com: To you, what makes this tournament so special and why do you want to win it so much?

Rafa: I don’t know, it is something I have always wanted since I was little. There is something special about the surface and the crowd. There is Magic in that tournament.

RN.com: Once again you are at a tournament of English speakers. Without doubt, you are the player best known for your funny quotes in English during press conferences. Does the fact that you make mistakes intimidate you? Or does it push you into wanting to learn it more?

Rafa: I still keep learning and I think I have improved a lot lately, right?

RN.com: By the way, are you taking English lessons anymore?

Rafa: No, no, simply by traveling and (hanging) in the locker room, you learn a lot.

RN.com: Did you celebrate the victory against Ukraine?

Rafa: I went to have dinner at a Spanish restaurant. I really liked the match even though I couldn’t see it all because I had to play. But I really enjoyed it.

RN.com: Thanks a lot for your time and we wish you all the best today and always!

Rafa: Thank you and to all the fans for all the support that you always give me.

Vamos Rafa y muchos éxitos en el futuro!

Written by, Nathalia Merino.