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Rafael Nadal Blogs From Roland Garros

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Monday, June 12, 2006   
 
So hi everyone and also farewell. This is my last post and it comes one day later than expected, but as I said yesterday I just couldn't make it - you can imagine how crazy the day was and how happy I was. I couldn't believe it.

To tell you the truth I will talk about the match a little bit although I think everything has been said through the media. I was very nervous at the beginning and Roger played unbelievably well in the first set. The combination of those two factors made the first set go very fast.

Anyway, I will start with the day of the final and then talk about how it was today. A lot of things have happened! I don't think I can tell everything... we would need 12 posts to tell the last two days but I will try to give you some information about the interesting things that happened to me.

First of all I am sending a picture of me in the locker room one hour before the match starts – the picture was taken at 2pm. (Editor's note: photo is currently unavailable. Check back later.) You can see I was watching TV and getting my racquets ready as usual. You all saw the match so I won't analyze that.

When the match was over I needed to get into the stands as quickly as I could to hug my family. To me the family is everything and I wanted to hug my uncles, my mother and especially my father. And I will tell you what I told him. I said to my father, “Daddy, thanks for everything,” and we just cried. I guess that's why he didn't want to release me – because he didn’t want people to see that he was crying. It was a special moment.

I got my trophy and when I was having my briefing before getting the trophy I had mentioned to Benito of the ATP that I would talk a lot about Roger, so I did. I gave my speech in Spanish. When in the second sentence I said how great Roger is people were booing. I didn't know what it was. I thought maybe something had happened or maybe they misunderstood the translation. Afterwards we all realized the translator did not say what I said. The crowd thought I was talking about myself. It was just a misunderstanding. I was praising Roger, not myself, and I will always praise Roger because he is a great guy and a great champion.

Before we talk about going into locker room, let me say getting the trophy was very emotional for me. To pick up the trophy, especially to see the Spanish flag going up while the national anthem was being played for me, was a special moment.

We went back to the locker room after we did all the TV interviews and there the Princess of Spain with her husband waiting at the entrance of the locker room. We just talked and took some pictures. So thank you again to them for coming.

Not too many people are allowed in the locker room but the few who are allowed, they are not just anybody. I took a picture with Guillermo Vilas, with all my team and also I had the surprise with Pau Gasol, the NBA star player, who came to the locker room to congratulate me. So that was great.

Back to the media… it was a long press conference then live Spanish TV and then back down to do radios and then back up for more TV and then another part of the site for more TV. Anyway, I forgot I had to do the anti-doping test. It was around 10pm that I went into the room to do the test.

Anyway, to tell the story short, we left the site around 10.45 with all my family waiting in the hotel. We had scheduled to go to the Spanish embassy... that is a tradition to say hi to the ambassador. We got there very late at 11.20, so I have to apologize, as that's not the right time to go into anyone's house. To go to the embassy, that is exciting as people are waiting for you, you have the flags and everything. I got there and we left at midnight and Carlos Costa, my manager, had booked a nice restaurant, Trocadero, with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.

There we had all my family, all my friends who came, all my sponsors we had invited to be there with us. It was great. What did I eat? I had a carpccio salmon and chicken with curry and rice. I was so hungry, you cannot believe it. Really hungry. So I had a lot to eat.

Then after dinner we went to a place to have a couple of drinks and move a little bit the body. But not much as you know I am already in London writing this blog. This last blog.

I got up very, very early because I had a TV interview scheduled, then a photo shoot with the trophy in the middle of Paris… I think there were more photographers this year than last year. I am also sending a picture of that.

But we had to do a picture pretty quickly and then rushed back to hotel, got our luggage and then went to the train station. It was scheduled at 1.04pm, we got to the station at 12.55 pm. The bookings were done but they were too slow giving us the tickets, so we missed the train and believe me guys, this is no good. We were there for two hours waiting, but what can you do? You just wait. We caught the train and then had the chance to sleep a little bit. We were just in normal seats, not a sleeper cabin, as it was only a three hour trip

On the train I had the great surprise of the Prince of Spain calling me. He said he was amazed by the performance and that was really nice. I really appreciated it.

We got to London and my first thoughts were, What do I do now? Well, I'm going to practice. I got to the hotel, quickly got changed, went to practice and here I am writing the blog which I have to finish quickly to rush to a restaurant as we go live on TV with a Spanish TV show, doing a satellite link, I think that’s what it’s called, with Spain's national goalkeeper Casillas.

I am not coming to London with my uncle Toni, he is taking a little break. Francisco Roig, one of Feliciano Lopez’s coaches, will give me a hand this week.

Anyway, I just wanted to say before finishing the post thank you all for reading it, for being there and supporting me. I haven't had time to read all the comments you have been posting but I promise I will read them all... I just don't know how long it will take me!

Thanks again for all your support. Please keep logging onto my web page www.rafaelnadal.com because I will be interacting with you through the page and also keep reading atpworldtour.com if you want to follow what happens on the circuit.

Rafa

 
Sunday, June 11, 2006  
 
Sorry guys, but I have had no time to write the blog tonight. I hope you understand. But I promise I will write a blog tomorrow while I am traveling by train to London and you can see how much stuff I have to give you. I am going to London to play singles and doubles at Queen's.


Saturday, June 10, 2006  
 
Hi everyone.

Well, what can I say? Tonight is the night before the big day. Tomorrow I am playing my second final at Roland Garros and I guess we all agree it is some kind of a special final with Roger. Here I am dictating my blog, which as you know gets written in English and then gets translated back into Spanish. Don't ask me why we do it like this!

You might ask, how did I take this day... is it a different day because it is between a semifinal and final of a Grand Slam? Do I do something special or different or feel nervous? To tell you the truth what I tried to do all day is take it as another normal day. That helps me more and maybe it's a way to forget what is going to happen tomorrow. Or maybe it is a way to have a normal day. I don't know. Here is a photo of me at breakfast, having bread with chocolate cream.

The fact is the ATP had arranged for me to do a photo shoot and video filming at a bridge near my hotel and so I went there, half an hour later than expected, so I have to apologize to the photographers and TV crews. I did my work, answered many questions to the many TVs and then went to do another photograph and then after that I went to the site where I was scheduled to practice with a Japanese junior who had just played the final of the junior doubles tournament, so I got my hit with him.

I did see Roger today. He practiced after me. When he was going on court I was signing autographs so all we did was exchange looks and say 'hello.' I can also say that I was forwarded a message by Ljubicic. It was nice to receive it. The message said something like 'Don't get me wrong. I would like Federer to win because I have a closer friendship with him, but that's it.'

It was really hot out there today. You could really feel the sun and a little wind. There were a lot of people at the practice court, so maybe next year they should schedule us to practice on a bigger court :) But jokes aside I got my hit and again I had some media scheduled. I had to do a press conference with the international media, although not too many showed up. Then I rushed to do another live interview with Spanish TV as I said yesterday in my blog.

Since we were running an hour or hour and a half late, I was scheduled to do a round table with the Spanish written media, so I did it while I was eating. Here I am grabbing a dish of pasta today with curry sauce from the restuarant and an entrecote with french fries and going upstairs to the player lounge to sit down with the Spanish fellows. By that time it was already 5.15 and as I wrote in my post yesterday I wanted to be back at the hotel by 4.30.

Just one more thing to do. I remember I was given a watch in Shanghai last year and it broke down so I asked my friend from the ATP to walk with me from the player lounge to the VIP village to pick up another watch. But as we went out the women's singles final had just finished and there we were trying to walk through the crowd.

Some of you may ask how we move inside the tournament. To tell you the truth normally they would have prepared a lot of security but we thought it better just to go there by ourselves. It is funny, not too many people know that it is me walking through. You draw more attention to yourself if you are surrounded by huge security guys pushing people, which I don't like to see, but I understand that sometimes it is necessary to keep everyone moving. I'm not afraid to go alone with the guy from the ATP. We try not to push anybody and just get to the place faster. I picked up the watch and went back to the hotel.

I got back to the hotel and you can imagine now that it's not just my family here to support me but a lot of people from Mallorca, including the president of the Island and a whole bunch of people. The president had prepared dinner for a lot of people but I prefer to stay at the hotel. One, it would probably be a mess to go out to dinner with over 30 people and also I wanted to watch the World Cup match with Argentina. We just called the place that we have been going for dinner all these days and asked if they could bring stuff to the hotel. It was me, uncle Toni, uncle Miguel Angel and Tuts from Nike. I had fried gambas and fried calamari and also a pizza.

So I know some of you ask that if I don't like tomato and I don't like cheese, what is in the pizza I eat? I don't like sliced tomato but of course I have tomato sauce on the pizza base. I had a napolitana pizza which had anchovies and tomato sauce, but I took off the green capers (alcaparras). We had a laugh after watching the match. My uncle Miguel Angel was telling stories about famous footballers and coaches and it was really funny. I had a great time.

As you can see it was a normal day, although probably busier than normal, but this is the way I like to spend the day - it goes quicker. I can't deny that I did spend some time today thinking about the final and tomorrow I probably will be a little nervous. If I win, great, if I don't then there will probably be another chance. It definitely won't be a tragedy.

On thing I forgot to say in yesterday's post is that I spoke to Raul, the captain of the Spanish national team. He wished me luck from him and from the whole team. That was very nice and it was great to talk to him.

Let me tell you that Carlos Moya called me and we spent some time on the phone and he gave me a lot of support for tomorrow. He's a great guy.

Rafa


Friday, June 9, 2006  
 
Hi everyone.

Let me tell you first I am very excited and very happy I am back in the finals of Roland Garros and to tell you the truth I wasn't sure I would make it, so I am very happy.

How can I start today's post? Should I start with the match or the aftermatch... I don't know where to start. The first thing is the happiness of being back in the Roland Garros finals and now being sure of finishing the year at least in the Top 5 and also increasing the possibility that I can fight for No. 2 at the end of the year.

Another reason for being happy is most of my family arrived today to see the semifinal match. And as you all know I am a big family boy, so I like that.

My father, mother, sister, my uncle Rafa and his wife, my uncle Miguel Angel, all of them arrived today and that makes me very happy. Here is a picture with me and all my family at dinner. We went for dinner together and then for an ice cream. We went together to a restaurant in the Champs Elysees and then to another place in Champs Elysees for an ice cream (you can guess both names). Also with us were Tuts, a guy who works for Nike who I like very much and a couple of guys from the ATP.

Again, I won't talk about the match, but the more interesting stuff. You can see me above with a picture of the mayor of Manacor, my home town. The mayor arrived last night and came today to the match and I am happy for that because he is the number one citizen of the city. After the match he came into the locker room, to tell you the truth I don't know how he managed to get in as security is very tight at Roland Garros and it is very difficult to get into the locker room. But we took a picture and I thanked him for coming.

The other picture you can see here is with Bud Collins. For those of you in the U.S. you definitely know who Bud Collins is. He works for NBC, which is an American TV network. After my press conference I did an interview with Bud, which I think will be shown tomorrow, so if you are in the U.S. I hope you get to see it. He mentioned to me the possibility of winning 60 consecutive matches on clay but as you can imagine the most important thing to me is to win the title.

On my way back from the locker room from doing the interview with NBC I saw the open door to center court, which looked a completely different, empty center court. I thought it was just beautiful. So I asked to go there to see it and it's just amazing to see that court empty. So here is the picture and I hope when it's full next time we meet with Roger it will be a great atmosphere.

Roger said today in his press conference that we are the number 1 and 2 players on clay and that is right. That proves what I have been saying for few weeks. He is an excellent player on clay, he is number 1 and he is the best. Those who say he cannot play on clay, he has proven that is not right.

At the same time I think of myself as someone who prefers to play on clay but who is also competitive on other surfaces. I definitely need to learn more how to play on grass and I definitely want to do that, but before that we have this final on Sunday, which I am sure is going to be great.

In this picture below you can see me here with a ATP staffer who I have been told is someone who knows a lot of about tennis and is a genius of stats and his name is Greg. I have also been told by other people at the ATP that work with me that he is a great guy. This picture of Greg is also a tribute to the other staff who we don't see.

To tell you the truth I have not been reading much of the comments about my blog lately, I have been having quite busy days so I am sorry I cannot comment on them. I have been told that this blog has been a success in numbers, so I want to thank you for this and for all the support.

Tomorrow I will be having a day with some media work they have prepared for me. I don't know if this is normal or not but I want to take the days as I normally would take them. It doesn't matter if it is the day before a final, I want the routine I usually have.

I plan to be back at the hotel at 4.30 to rest. At the site I will be working and training and practicing.

Rafa


Thursday, June 8, 2006   
 
Hi everyone again.

Getting close to another big day... semifinals are always a big day and in a big tournament like Roland Garros as you can imagine it's even bigger. Let me start by saying as usual what I did today.

I got to the site around 1.15 and I practiced after Federer on the same court, court number 4. Before I go into details about what I did today I want to say I was impressed by all the people at the practice court, not for me but all the other players practicing. It's great that tennis has so many people following.

I went to practice and scheduled some media related activities as you get to see in the pictures. Before practice I did an interview with Spanish television on a set at the TV compound with Alex Corretja and his colleague interviewing me for Spain's main TV. The interview was good as Alex knows very well tennis and for me I am very comfortable to talk to him. Court 4 is right next to the TV compound so I could go straight from the interview to practice.

Some of you might ask how I go from the player lounge on one side of the site to the TV compound on the other side. You know what, I ran over there. I don't like being surrounded by security. Sometimes it is necessary but sometimes I feel it's better to go on your own and make a little run.

After that the ATP scheduled me to do a picture with the media and television. As you guys know the FIFA World Cup starts Friday and I did a photo with some footballs and my national flag and I was happy to do that. Oh, I forgot that I also took a photo for L'Equipe inside the locker room, so if someone buys the French newspaper tomorrow they will see that picture.

Getting set for the World CupSo it was a pretty easy day. You might think that this guy only talks about things I've done and not what goes through my mind or any bad things that happen during the day. But that's just me, that's my style. I prefer to keep some of those moments to myself.

I had a very late lunch on site. I had a big, big dish of pasta with salmon. When I say 'big' I mean really, really big. At lunch I also had a chance to see on the computer the feature ESPN did for Roland Garros. I have to say they did a good job, so congrats guys.

Anyway I went back to the hotel, had my massage and my recuperation there. I hope I can remember to take a picture of my room tomorrow or the day after if I am lucky enough to win to show you guys.

I know tomorrow will be a very difficult match against Ljubicic. I won't talk about Ivan, you guys know him. Let's see how it goes. As you can imagine I am very excited about the match and it would be great to win it, so let's see what happens.

Thanks everyone for supporting me. I've heard the blog has been well received, so I am happy to have the chance to share it with you.

Thanks very much and thanks for all my fans.


Wednesday, June 7, 2006  

Hi everyone again,

It's good to be back. Today will be a different post. I have been pretty busy all day, although the match has been the shortest one. I decided to take things very easy.

I went back to the hotel after I had my press conference , TV interviews and radio, which was pretty long today but if I am lucky and keep winning I will be doing more and more media, that's okay with me.

I went back quickly to the hotel and to tell you the truth I had a little walk by the Champs Elysees with my manager Carlos. You all know I like to walk in this city even though a lot of people stop me in the street, which I enjoy. While I was walking I saw another player, Nicolas Lapentti, he had just finished a Challenger and had come back to Paris.

Tonight I went to dinner with my team. It was probably the first time that I had my full team with me: uncle Toni, Juanan, Carlos, a guy from Nike called Tuts and the doctor of the Spanish Federation, Cotrro, but we call him 'Mamelo' because he calls all the players on the team 'Mamelo.'

I know that some of you are interested in what I eat, so I will tell you. Tonight I had a huge entrecout with a lot of french fries and to drink I had cola. That was it. We went to a place where all they served was meat and french fries.

We were talking about lots of things that a guy of my age would talk about, especially football. As you know the World Cup is starting Friday and you all know I love football. We talked about which were the teams that could win, what could Spain do. I won't give away my secrets as I will be writing a column on the World Cup soon. We talked also about the matches we have been seeing and also about women's tennis. I heard Toni and Carlos talking about the semifinals, who will come from my people. I won't get into the tickets, they are handling that, but I know we will need more tickets than normal.

Oops, I forgot to say that I had a massage before dinner, but you know that is normal.

Next to us there was a table full of a big family from Argentina, maybe 2 or 3 families. The little boy with them had a t-shirt of FC Barcelona. They came to our table and we took pictures and autographs. One funny thing happened today. One guy came to the table to take a picture and I asked him if I took a picture with him yesterday. He said, "Yes, but I want a second picture."

We stepped out of the restaurant and there were some people outside so we took pictures and signed autographs. Then everyone started following us as we started walking back to the hotel. I guess they know me here.

We will see what happens tomorrow. The four semifinalists are doing a picture at 2.15 with national flags to promote the World Cup. I will practice at 2.15 and as you can imagine, I will take things very easy and get ready for the next day.

Oops, I also will do a TV interview with Alex Corretja at 1.15 pm for TVE. So for those of you who read the blog you may also get to see my interview with Alex on TVE.

PS: Thanks to all my fans that have been giving me presents during these past days. It is very nice of you. Today I got my last one but I also heard that my team got insulted without a reason. If you really respect and support me I would like you to understand and respect my team, since they do the best of the jobs. Thanks again.

Rafa


Tuesday, June 6, 2006  

Hi everyone again,

It's now a lot of days that I've been writing, no?

Well, let me start by saying that yesterday I fell asleep pretty late. I was very tired and I could not sleep. I don't know why, maybe because of the match with Hewitt but it is true that when I am very tired I have trouble falling asleep. I don't remember what time it was, but I was pretty tired. That means I woke up pretty late. I hope I'm not offending anyone by saying that I woke up at 12.45. I hope people understand that's its tough when you run so much and you need to get your rest.

But before going into today let me tell you about last night. I had dinner with my team and Emilio Sanchez. Why am I talking about Emilio? Because it was at dinner than I arranged, I should say we arranged, to practice together today. I don't remember seeing much of Emilio on TV when he was playing because as some of you know I didn't watch a lot of tennis on TV when I was a little kid. I remember seeing Emilio from time to time, but not much.

Emilio is here at Roland Garros playing the seniors event and he is the Spanish Davis Cup captain. I enjoyed the practice because I was able to practice a lot of shots, particularly my offensive game rather than my defensive game.

Off the court I was taken to do a live interview for French television with another former player, Cedric Pioline. I remember seeing Cedric play a little more than Emilio because he has only recently retired.

That has been about it today. I am feeling a little tired, but that is normal. I've played a lot of matches and it's been a week and a half in Paris as I arrived here the Thursday before the tournament. But I will be ready to play tomorrow and I know it will be a difficult match against Djokovic. Unless you follow tennis you may not have heard a lot about him but he is a very dangerous player with a big game and he will have nothing to lose. He's only 19, so it's a rare time that I will be playing someone younger than me.

I had a very early dinner tonight and now I'm ready to go to bed. I hope I can fall asleep quickly as I have an early wake-up call. I am playing at noon.

I also want to take the opportunity to say happy birthday to Bjorn Borg, who turned 50 today. I met him for the first time last year in Sweden during the Bastad tournament and we had a little chat. And he sent me a message when I equaled his number of clay court matches won in a row in Barcelona. So happy birthday, Bjorn!

Rafa


Monday, June 5, 2006  
 
Hi everyone,

Well, I start each post telling you what time I get picked up to go to the site and the same old thing... Well... why should I change today? I went to the site at 10 today. Let me explain to you guys a few things. Why do we get picked up at 10 when I am scheduled second match in the afternoon? The answer is that if you are playing second you need to be on site when the first match starts because in the Order of Play it says that your match 'follows' the first match. That means if something unexpected happens you have to be ready to go and play and if you're not there they can disqualify you. That's important to know, as you will see later.

So, today I had my normal warm-up hit. Here comes another question. With less players still at the tournament in the second week, who do you hit with? Right now there are way less players, but there are still a lot of juniors here, so today I hit with a Spanish junior. I was a junior not long ago...

After my warm-up hit I went upstairs for a light lunch of pasta and salad and to my surprise the first match between Beto Martin and Benneteau ended in the first set when Beto Martin had to retire, as you know. There I am panicking again, rushing to the locker room as we only have 30 minutes to get ready and go on court, and I was still having lunch! I should have been in the locker room waiting but I thought, everyone thought, the match would be longer.

Before I go on I want to say that I was sad to see what happened to Beto because he is one of the nicest guys on the tour and I like him a lot. I think it was his first time in the second week of a Grand Slam so it was a good opportunity for him to reach the quarterfinals which I am sure it was very important for him. I hope he is okay and that he recovers soon. I know he is going to get some medical exams done so I hope he is well soon.

I won't go into my match because you can read about that in the paper or the internet. But there was an unusual incident with a ballboy during the match. The poor boy got hit by the ball and I can tell you those balls can hurt. We were playing and I could see him bleeding so I had to stop the match, I talked to the umpire and suggested they get him out of the court. I hope he is doing okay. Most of the players have probably all been ballboys at one point, so we feel for them.

I'm attaching a picture of myself at the end of the match talking to Alex Corretja, who is always there after my matches. And right after walking off the court there is a wall running along the stairs were all the players who played on center court sign. I signed it two days ago and again today. I don't know why I signed it twice, but anyway... Here is the picture above.

I went to the locker room. I was tired and it was a good match. The first set was the best set I played in the tournament so far. . I was hitting the ball clean and I was with a lot of confidence. I was happy with that. Then I went to the press conference but I won't bore you with that. After the press conference I took the chance to say hi to the ITF communications people. You can see a picture of that. There are a lot of people working for the tournament and tennis that make the tennis world move. I want to thank all of them. Posting pictures is a way to recognize their work.

I am doing the blog now that I am back from the site. I got back early which is good since at this stage of the tournament it's good to get more rest than normal and to get ready for my next match in two days.

Tomorrow will be a very light schedule so I will let you know about other things. Will let you know more.

Rafa


Sunday, June 4, 2006   

Hi again.

I'm writing this blog a little earlier than usual because I had the chance to get back to the hotel at a reasonable time today. As you all know it was a day off for me, or I should say it was a day without a match as there is always a lot to do such as practice and recuperating from the long match with Mathieu.

My day actually started last night - as you know we got back from my birthday dinner pretty late, probably around 1 am. Then I got a massage in the room and I fell to sleep on the table. Juanan didn't want to wake me up so he just left me there. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized what had happened. Luckily for me I didn't fall off the table and I just put myself into bed.

I woke up pretty late today and had to get a very light breakfast in my room as the time for breakfast in the restaurant had closed. I had a pick-up today at 1 pm and on my way downstairs there was a journalist from Mallorca who I know very well and I did a short interview for his radio show.

My uncle Toni has his family with him this weekend in Paris so while I was sleeping he walked around the city with his wife Joana Maria and my young cousin. Toni told me to call him when I was ready to go to the site and I asked the transportation driver to pick him up on the way. I called them around 1.20 pm and we picked them up near the Louvre. To see the Louvre even from the outside was exciting for me because I recently watched The Da Vinci Code as you all know from my first post.

The whole drive through the city was amazing. I got to see the Orsay (another big museum) and so many beautiful buildings. I picked up Toni and his family from Pont Neuf - a famous bridge in Paris. So transportation was very nice to take me to pick up Toni.

The first thing I did on site was some recuperation work. I played a little bit of football with Juanan because he told me he wanted to get my joints moving again after such a long match. It also was some coordination work as we kicked the football against the wall. It is not a normal football but a smaller one that we carry around. It is a red one with SPAIN written on it that Nike gave me the week of Rome.  

We do a lot of exercises with it since as you all know I love football and we take the opportunity to do some of these playing football. During the stretching I watched some of the other matches - including Roger's - you have some pictures of it.

After that I had a quick and light lunch upstairs. You may wonder what I ate today. Because I had a practice at 4 pm I just had a light lunch of a dish of pasta and some chicken. I didn't try anything special at practice and because I was still pretty tired from the day before I took it pretty easy. One nice thing was that I could practice on Court 18 instead of having to go off-site, that's good. Now that we're into the second week the courts are more empty, just like the locker room so that makes our lives easier.

So it was a pretty easy day. I am tired but recuperating slowly and I hope to be fine for my match tomorrow against Hewitt. We play second match after 12. I did some stretching and had a massage at the hotel and now I'm doing the blog.

Oh, one thing I forgot to say is that I had a little scare today, nothing serious and not as bad as when I had the wrong strings a few days ago. When we picked up Toni I was in the first row of seats in the minivan. And in moving to the back row of the minivan I hit my shin on the van door. It hurt a bit and there is a bit of a bump, but it's nothing serious.

Today I want you to see the picture I took last night of the Eiffel Tower lit up. And also the t-shirt that the Spanish journalists gave to me.

Rafa


Saturday, June 3, 2006  
 
Hi everyone,

Here I am again on a very special day. As you know today it was my 20th birthday. That means I am no longer a teenager!!! Not sure if that's good or bad.

Well, it was a special day: My birthday and a very difficult match. I knew it was going to be difficult and therefore I was a bit nervous before the match. To play a French player at home is never easy and on top of that Paul-Henri plays great tennis as everyone has seen. Sometimes people think it is easy for us, but believe me it is very difficult.

Today as I mentioned to you yesterday, I got a 10 am pick up at the hotel and we headed again for the site. Being Saturday morning, the traffic to get to the site was much better and that means that in 15 minutes we were there.

People are very nice with me and a lot of them knew it was my birthday so from the driver who took us to the site, the people at the security at the tournament and everyone that works there gave us the good morning with a big smile and a happy birthday. So the first thing I want to say is thanks to all of you who have been sending me messages in any way.

Coming to my day, as you can imagine, 5 hours of today were taken by a match. I am playing too many of these, right? In Rome over 5 hours and today nearly 5 hours... With days like this the day goes fast.

I warmed up again with Martin del Potro. For those of you who don't know him, he is a very tall Argentinean player that plays really good. I think he is over 1m 90. You will hear that name in the future. He left today to Buenos Aires so I am changing tomorrow to another partner to hit with.

I took things easy today and stayed most of the time in the locker room. You want to stay calm and quiet before such an important match and therefore I only went upstairs to get some food.

I am not going to talk about the match since some of you have seen it on TV (or in the stadium) and also the media is giving reports of it. Right after the match I was very tired and I have a picture there to prove it. It was getting late and they told me that I had to go somewhere before going to press. It happened to be a surprise and they gave me a cake (it was pretty good although I don't know what was it) and some champagne. The tournament people, ATP and ITF had prepared all the photographers and TVs there to take pictures of it.

My uncle Toni and his wife and daughter were there as well. Toni came close to me and put the cake on my face. Thank God it was a hard one and it did not stay. The funny thing was that the candles where like rockets and I got pretty scared since the fire was pretty big. We all drank some of the champagne and ate the cake with the media and organizers. This is very nice of them and I want to thank them. Last year my birthday was also in this tournament and I remember that Pau Gasol brought in the cake into the press conference room. I still remember it.

So we got pretty late to the press conference. I think it was around 9.30 pm. I have also sent a picture they took of me at the press conference and another one with the t-shirt that the Spanish journalists gave me as a present.

Guys, thank you very much for the t-shirt and for all the time you follow me. We have to take a picture of all of you and post it here also so that people see your faces.

After the press conference, I think it was 10 pm or so, we went to the transport office to get a car to take us back to the hotel. It was already dark and when we passed the Eiffel Tower, I took a picture of it. It is really nice at night with all the lights illuminating it.

Apparently my team had booked a table at a very nice restaurant in Paris to celebrate the birthday but since it was so late they had to cancel it (I was also very tired) and we decided to go to the pizzeria we have been going to these days. I ate some fried gambas with rice and some grilled fish (loup in French).

Carlos Costa took a picture of the group. You will recognise there also is Alex Corretja who came with us since he is also staying at the same hotel. We talked about the match, about funny stories on tour such as old matches, surprise results in the past, the World Cup and other things.

Anyway, I am going to leave you guys since I am writing this after dinner, it is late and I still have to get a short massage. Tomorrow I am going late to the tournament to get a light practice around 2 pm.

See you all tomorrow.

Rafa

Oh, I have one more photo for you. The one taken yesterday of me with Kim Clijsters to promote the new issue of the ATP Magazine DEUCE. I hope you are enjoying all the photos.


Friday, June 2, 2006  
 
Hi again everybody,

First of all I'd like to thank all of you who are reading my blog and want to let you know that you can now post your comments on my web site, www.rafaelnadal.com

I had my usual breakfast of cereal with milk and bread and butter this morning but no cola cao, which for those of you who don't know is a chocolate drink that everyone in Spain has for breakfast. A lot of you have been asking why I haven't been drinking cola cao and the reason is because I can't get it here in Paris. I had to be ready for a 9 o'clock pick up at the hotel so I had to be up a little earlier than usual.

I went to the site and practiced with an Argentine player Juan Martin del Potro, I have a picture of me hitting a backhand that my trainer Juanan took. Uncle Toni is in the background giving me the last advice before the match. After the warm-up I rushed to the locker room. Today I was playing on court Suzanne Lenglen and the main locker room is in Philippe Chatrier stadium, so even though matches hadn't started there were still a lot of people on the grounds and it was a bit difficult to move between the court and the locker room.

Today I defeated American Kevin Kim and I can say that I felt comfortable playing and I think I played good, which gives me some more confidence. I still don't think I am at the best of my game and there are some things I can still improve which will help with my rhythm and confidence.

You may not know but there is a rule that says we must do our press conference no more than 30 minutes after the match, but I find it difficult to be ready. First you have to make it back through the people to the locker room and taking the tape off your feet and ankles can take more time than you think. I ask the ATP trainer to put tape around both my ankles to protect against rolling them.

On top of that I also had to do a promotion for the ATP Magazine DEUCE, where I took a photo with Kim Clijsters. I really like Kim a lot, she is very nice and she makes fun of me with my English - in a nice way. So when they asked me to take a picture with a WTA player I suggested Kim because she is really, really nice.

After taking the picture I rushed into the press conference where the normal procedure is to first answer questions from the written media and then also do radio interviews, which take a long time. And then depending on the day and which round you also do television interviews. Today I did Spanish television and a couple of foreign televisions after the radio interviews. At the press conference I was asked whether I had my strings today and I said 'Yes, thank God!' It shows that the media is reading my blog, which is good.

Oh, I almost forgot, I did a promotion for ESPN television - they are doing a profile on me. I know the cameraman because he travels to a lot of the Masters Series events, so that always makes it easier. Hi Matt! I also watched a little bit of Moya's match, he lost, which doesn't make very happy. I didn't have a chance to see him after his match because I had left already but we exchanged message on the phone.

I finished my match at about 2pm but it was around 4.30 pm before I had done everything and could finally leave for the hotel, where I did my normal stretching and got a massage. I just stayed in my room before dinner.

People think my life is very glamorous, particularly here in Paris, but it's not always so. Tonight there is a big IMG party where there will be lots of glamorous models but with a 10am pickup in the morning to go to the site I won't be able to go to the party, I need the sleep. My manager Carlos Costa who works for IMG will be going, but he has told his wife, so that's okay!

Tomorrow will be a special post because it will be my 20th birthday. I hope to have some pictures to show you.

Rafa

Thursday, June 1, 2006   
 
This is my fifth post! I have been reading some of your comments and you have been telling me this is a post, not a blog. Thanks for that.

I want to start again with breakfast. I said yesterday that breakfast was expensive. Paris is an expensive city. But I found out that the hotel is only charging us half price so I have to apologize and thank them for that. I think it's because we have a group deal. I've been saying that I've been having breakfast but I haven't told you what I eat. Today I had a big bowl of cereal with milk and some bread and butter. To drink I had an orange juice and another orange juice.

When I went to the site today it was a pretty sunny day and we were expecting a better day than we've had in the past, but it turned out to be one of the worst days. As many of you know my match, which was scheduled third or fourth from 11 on Suzanne Lenglen court, was canceled. So you may ask what I do all day? I had a warm-up hit with another player and then you wait and wait and wait till it's your turn to play. Unfortunately my turn did not come today.

I went to the ATP office a few times. It was funny because the father of Vince Spadea was there and so was the coach of Youzhny - Boris. Spadea's father used to be an opera singer. So the guy started singing opera in the ATP office. It was great; it was funny. To prove it they took a picture so you can see for yourself. Spadea's father is on the left with his hands. I hope next time I have a video recorder. That was the fun part of the day.

But today was one of the worst days I've ever had. Not because of the weather but because as my match was getting closer to going on court (this was before I knew it would be canceled) I suddenly realized that the strings I normally use were not in my racquet. For those of you who know tennis you realize that if you put different string in your racquet it is a disaster. In practice I didn't know what was happening. The balls were going one meter from where I wanted.

I'm not sure what went wrong but I think they may have sent the wrong strings - which were much thinner - from the factory. When I realized I was very nervous and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to play. Carlos Costa my manager managed to find me the string I normally use and I managed to get three racquets strung. I normally would go on court with five or six racquets, but three would have allowed me to play. So I'm still looking for more of my real string. Believe me guys I was very scared. It's the first time that this has happened to me... and it happens at Roland Garros!

I've been reading some of your comments about my blog on one of the web pages. Believe me, it is me doing it. I'm not physically writing it, I don't have the skills to write so fast. But I talk to someone from the ATP and he types it in English. My team and I have been talking about doing a blog since January or February. We thought the best time to do it was during Roland Garros. It is me doing it and I enjoy it.

Some of you have asked me to do a flog - a photo blog. So here you go... I got someone to take a few pictures of me today. Here they are: me in the ATP office, me at transportation, me at the hotel.

Also, people have asked me about my diet. I don't have a special diet but obviously I have to take care with what I eat. I eat pasta, meat and pizza. One thing I don't like is tomato. Even with pasta I prefer to have it without tomato. Also, I don't like cheese. Some people tell me I will like it when I get older but for the moment I don't like it.

Anyway, tomorrow morning I will go to the site very early. I have a 9 am pickup downstairs. I am playing second after 11. So I will get to the site early, do my warm-up practice then get ready for the match. Then do my normal warm-up: get my racquets ready, check the strings and the grips, get dressed for the match and get the last advice from my coach and uncle, Toni.

We will see how it goes and thank you very much again to everybody.

Rafa


Wednesday, May 31, 2006   
 
So here we are again. Hi to everyone. I hope you're not getting too bored with my blog.

The day started the same as yesterday: breakfast downstairs in the hotel. By the way, I found out that it cost 25 Euros. That's very expensive. Transportation picked us up and we went to the club ar 11.30.

As I arrived I went as usual to the ATP office. I said hi to Giorgio, who is a tour manager and a guy I like a lot. He gives all the players very good advice and understands how tennis works. Giorgio showed me the final blog on the ATP web site. As you can imagine I do it in Spanish but it is nice to see what it looks like in English on the web. They are doing a good job with it! I also said hi to Stephanie, who works for Player Relations in the ATP office in Monte Carlo.

Then I went to warm up on an exercise bike to get the muscles warm before my practice. At Roland Garros the locker room is very spacious and there is a special place to warm up. Not every tournament has facilities like these. Before practice I watched a little of Moya's match on TV in the locker room. After telling you about all the TVs the other day I decided to count them - there are 18! That covers all the courts and other things that are happening on TV.

Although Roland Garros has a lot of courts, we still have to practice off site because at this stage of the tournament there are still so many matches being played. You've got big draws for the men and the women, doubles and then the mixed doubles will start soon. It's not so convenient to have to go off site but at least the club is pretty close.

I practiced today with Diego Hartfield, who you probably know lost to Federer in the first round. The reason I practiced with him is because he is not in the tournament anymore, so I feel that I can practice specifics in my game. I feel that I can ask him to throw me some more forehands or backhands, or take time to have more serves... whatever I feel I need. It's not so easy to ask your practice partner to do that if he is still in the tournament and working on his own game.

After practice it's customary for players to say to each other 'thanks a lot' and we both did that. Then we got transportation together back to the site. I saw the end of Moya's match and then waited for him to get his shower. Moya normally takes things slowly. When he was ready we had lunch with Fer Vicente and Marcos Gorriz, who is Alberto Martin's coach. You all know that I am good friends with Moya. He is a sharp and funny guy. But 'Fer' is one of the funniest players on tour. We had a laugh at lunch.

The player restaurant is really crowded at the beginning of the tournament. Even after four days you still have half of the men's and women's draws left and all the doubles players. And all the coaches and family members. I know some people complain that it can take some time to get something to eat but if you have a match coming up soon there are people from the tournament who can take you to get food immediately.

After lunch I went back to the locker room to watch how Roger was doing. I had a lot of fun with Moya in the locker room watching different matches. The locker room is also still very full at the moment, especially on a day like today with rain. You have players waiting for their matches to start and others who have come off the court and are waiting to go back on. The weather this year has been terrible.

Then I went back to the hotel. As I told you guys the other day I am hooked up with PlayStation and the Formula One game and I must admit that I played it again today. I know it may not be very educational or the best thing to be doing with my time, bit I am hooked.

There was nothing too original about my choice for dinner companions tonight... Toni and my physical therapist Juanan. We went to a pizzeria at the Champs Elysees close to the hotel where I had some pasta and pizza. When we were leaving the hotel for dinner I saw the TV crews coming back from the site. Alex Corretja and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario are working for TV this year. It made me think how good the players have got it. We come and go from the site as we please. But the media are there from before the first ball till after the last. It might seem like a fun and glamorous job to be part of the media but I'm sure it's not an easy one.

Rafa


Tuesday, May 30, 2006   
 
Hi everyone.

Here I am on my third blog. Sorry, but it will be a short one today. Nothing much happens on a day like this when you have two days before your next match. The first thing I have to say is that it's not normal to be like this. Normally we have only one day rest in between matches at a Grand Slam but with the new Sunday start at Roland Garros I played my first match Monday and my next match is Thursday. Not good for the rhythm but nothing we can do about it.

So, I woke up not too late and did the normal thing of breakfast downstairs and then I went to the site to practice. With two days before my next match that means you practice different things and your physical strengths. I got my massage and stretching and then went back to the hotel pretty early because I wanted to take advantage of the day in between matches and go for a walk around the Champs Elysees.

Most of you have probably read somewhere at interviews that came out before this tournament that Paris is one of my favorite cities and every time I come here I want to take the opportunity to walk around during the day. This has not been the usual thing since I did not have much time on my previous visits. So I went with Carlos Costa, who you all know is my manager, and we went to FNAC - a place where you buy electronics, music and videos. I didn't end up buying anything, just had a look around. Then we went to have an ice cream in the Champs Elysees and had a look around at those beautiful buildings. It is amazing actually. I remember I came to Paris some years ago with my family and I already liked it a lot although I was very young. We also went that time to EuroDisney. You must understand that now it is very different for me and I have no time to really do tourism. This is something that people ask me a lot, if I have time to enjoy the cities I visit. Definitely not at a tournament like this but we do have some time to see something.

So that has been my day. I haven't done much, to tell the truth. Sorry, I forgot. I did something at the hotel today. I did a TV interview with Mats Wilander for Eurosport. He asked me about many things including the blog and how I was doing it. I told him how I did it and that I am enjoying it. I know Mats is a good friend of Carlos Costa and they play on the senior tour together from time to time. But Carlos doesn't want me to talk about him, so you guys don't say anything to him! Mats also asked me about my game and being back in Paris. As you know he won Roland Garros the first time he played in the main draw. I remember being with him in the locker room when I won the tournament last year. He was in there waiting for me to congratulate me and I appreciated that a lot. Guga Kuerten was also there since he'd stayed in Paris to practice. The three of us had our photo taken together. I'll try to find it and post it here, maybe tomorrow.

But back to the blog... I have been reading that you have been making some very nice comments about the blog in chat rooms. All the feedback has been positive, which is nice. But come on, tell me what I could do better so I can improve! Some of you have mentioned that you want gossip. I'm not saying gossip is a bad thing, but I don't want it coming from me because I don't want to get into trouble with the guys in the locker room and I also think that that's not me. I don't like to gossip. I hope that's good for you.

Tomorrow is a day before a match so it will be different to today. I will come back to you and let you know.

Take care you all.

Rafa


Monday, May 29, 2006  

Okay guys, here I am again as promised. I like to keep my word, so let's start blog number two with what I did yesterday and then I'll talk about what I did today.

Yesterday I woke up around 10 and had a quiet breakfast downstairs in the hotel. I would love to say which hotel I am staying at because they treat me and all my team very well, but I don't want to create a fuss. Then I took the official Roland Garros transportation, who kindly pick us up at the hotel, to the site. I arrived about 11.

I scheduled two practices yesterday. The first one was at noon with Ferrero and the second one was with Berdych. I also wanted to see the Formula One from Monte-Carlo so I rushed off after practice to the locker room, where there are a lot of TV screens that show us every court and also sports on other channels. Monte-Carlo is one of the most exciting Grand Prix so I was very interested to watch it. I took a little break from the locker room to have some lunch with Moya and his coach Joan Bosch. But luckily we could also watch the race in the player restaurant.

I went back to the hotel pretty early. Whenever I have a match the following day I try to get to the hotel a little earlier. At the hotel I played on my PlayStation for about an hour and a half. You might ask, which game? I have to say that I used to play a lot of football but lately I am pretty much hooked on the F1 game. I also played a little bit of the spy game. Then I had the normal massage in the room before going out to dinner at a nearby pizzeria with Carlos Costa (my manager), my uncle Toni and my physical therapist Juanan. I went to bed pretty early.

Today I woke up at 10 and I have to say that I was a little nervous because the tournament was starting and the record was on the table. I watched a bit of TV that I never normally do in the mornings. I was thinking about the record to tell you the truth so that made me be more nervous. But I think that is a good thing. I went to the site and I had a hit with Felciano Lopez. He is one of my best friends and I call him 'Fidgiano'. I will tell the story behind the name another time.

So I had a hit with Fidgiano, who by the way lost today, which doesn't make me happy. We call this warming up, because on the day of a match the hit is not a normal practice. If it's the day before you will try some different things, but not on the day of a match.

Then I have to wait for my match. So what do I do? I like to get to the locker room early and in there I am jumping around, moving and getting my racquets ready. I tend not to go out of the locker room much when I have gone in. Oops, I forgot to mention that I had lunch again with Moya, Carlos, Nalbandian and Vitto. Who is Vitto? He is a guy who has worked for the ATP for 25 years. He is a Tour Manager. He is someone I like very much.

In the locker room, as the match gets closer, the more nervous I get. But once the match starts I feel good. Today was a kind of ugly day for tennis. It was very windy and cold, so it wasn't pleasant for players or the public. As I have said, I did have the record in mind and it was great when the match was finished to have beaten it of such a great player like Vilas.

I know the ATP and the tournament were involved in making a trophy showing the composition of a clay court. Vilas presented it to me and I think also the man next to him is the president of the French federation who handed it to me in front of all the photographers and the crowd that was still there. Very courageous of them since as I say it was pretty cold today. I have to thank them for coming to watch us, really. So it was an exciting moment.

Walking off the court Alex Corretja, who now works for TVE during broadcastings of certain events, made a little interview with me. I hope those of you who live in Spain got to see it on TVE. Then after a quick shower I went to do the post-match press conference and here I am writing this blog for you before I go to dinner with my team. I will have something a little stronger tonight, probably meat.

See you tomorrow!


Sunday, May 28, 2006   
 
¡Hola todos! Hello everyone!

I'm looking forward to writing the blog to be simultaneously posted at atpworldtour.com and on my home page www.rafaelnadal.com during Roland Garros so you can follow my progress and see what my days are like. It's the first time I've written a blog and it will be a lot of fun. A lot of people want to know what I do, especially at Roland Garros, and the blog will be a good way for them to find out.

But first let me tell you about a great night at the Laureus Awards last Monday and my week so far leading up to the start of Roland Garros. Last Monday was a very hectic day that started with a press conference in Palma de Mallorca to promote an exhibition scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. After the press conference I rushed to do a TV interview on IB3 with Carlos Moya - it's the first time I can remember doing a live TV show together with him.

Then I rushed to the airport to fly to Barcelona for the Laureus World Sports Awards but when I arrived I saw that my plane had been delayed by a couple of hours, which caused me to panic a little. I was able to get on a different flight that got me there at 4pm since I was due to be at the awards at 6.30. I was very happy that I could take my whole family with me - my mother, father, sister, Toni and my four grandparents. I also got invitations for my sponsors.

For the first time in my life I had to get dressed into a black tie suit, as did all of my family. (The ladies wore full-length dresses.) There were so many sports stars staying at the hotel. When I was getting ready to get dressed I was rushing out of the elevator and I crashed into Formula 1 driver Mika Hakkinen. I said 'Wow, there are so many famous people around.'

Driving in the car to the awards we got into a deep conversation about the Da Vinci Code, which is the latest movie that I have seen. I got into an argument with my mother and father and Benito from the ATP because we had different perspectives on the movie.

We arrived at the awards on time and our car was just about to pull up to the red carpet when a lot of cars overtook us. It's King Juan Carlos and his entourage! So, you know we stopped and wait for my turn. We stayed in the car for three or four minutes. We actually were joking with the police, asking them to give the King a ticket for speeding.

When I stepped out of the car I was amazed at how many journalists, photographers and TV people there were on the red carpet. I had to decide who to walk down the red carpet with: my sister or my mother. Both are beautiful ladies, but I thought that if I walked out with my sister the media who didn't know her may speculate that she was my girlfriend and also she is a bit shy, so I decided to walk with my mother. I think she was overwhelmed with all the media attention so I let her go while I made some interviews for TV.

One of the best parts of the night was seeing so many famous people you only get to see on TV, such as Moto GP world champion Valentino Rossi, who I admire a lot, and skier Alberto Tomba and so many other sportsmen and sportswomen. I chatted with Spanish golf legend Seve Ballesteros, Spanish cycling legend Miguel Indurain, famous model Valeria Mazza and Spanish actress Elsa Pataky.

I asked Benito to introduce me to Rossi and when we were walking towards him he said, "Hey, Nadal! I always watch you play on TV!" I was surprised, you know, I wanted to get introduced to him, but it was him asking me to take a picture. Rossi said he'd send the picture but I'm still waiting. So Valentino, if you're reading the blog, send it through! He's really a nice guy and I would love to go and see a GP live.

But before that at the ceremony itself, when my name came out as the winner of the Newcomer of the Year award it was amazing and then I got really nervous, wondering what I would say. On top of that the King gave me the award, which is really an honor for me. One thing that makes me so proud to win the award is that it goes beyond tennis and the first thing that came to my mind was to thank a lot of people, all of the people who have helped me, the Academy members for voting for me and of course all my fans.

After the awards and the interviews we went into the ballroom to have dinner. I was lucky to be seated next to one of the King's daughters, Princess Cristina, (she and her husband are the Duchess and Duke of Palma) who I knew from before since they are the ones who gave me the trophy in Barcelona. And also sitting next to me was Flavio Briatore, the boss of the Renault Formula One team. He told me a lot of things about F-1.

Roger Federer, who won the World Sportsman of the Year Award for the second year, was also at the same table. Everyone knows I like Roger. We speak to each other in English. Also at the table was the coach of FC Barcelona, Johan Cruyff, who also got an award. He also was the coach/manager of the team when my uncle Miguel Angel played for Barcelona.
 
After dinner people had some drinks and went to the disco, but I had a 9am flight back to Palma so I didn't stay out late. The exhibition with Moya, Mirnyi, Malisse, Panetta and Kuznetsova was rained out Tuesday, which is very strange because it doesn't rain too much in Palma. Tuesday night we had a Hugo Boss party and a lot of my friends from the island were there.

I flew to Paris on Thursday and that was the first day in a long while that I didn't have any media commitments scheduled. I had a practice at Roland Garros with Moya. On Friday it was back to Roland Garros for the draw ceremony. I pulled out the women's seeds and Justine Henin-Hardenne did the men's seeds. Then there was a media day at 4pm. On Saturday I went early to the Champs Elysees for a Nike clinic and then did a charity exhibition with a good friend of mine, Juan Monaco. After that there was an interview with Mary Jo Fernandez for ESPN Magazine. But of course my most important job has been to practice, and there has been a lot of that! I always try to schedule the other activities around practice.

So it's been a busy lead-up to Roland Garros, where I am hoping to defend my title. Please keep reading my blog this week. I hope to make my next post on Monday night after my first match.

Rafa

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