In an interview with the EFE Agency that took place in Kuwait during the inauguration of the ‘Rafa Nadal Academy’, hours before leaving for South Africa, where he will play a charity match against the Swiss Roger Federer, the Mallorcan star explained how his relationship with this and the other great dominator of tennis next to him, the Serbian Novak Djokovic; and he commented that he would be excited, to have them one day, for his children to play sports.
Question: You, Federer and (Serbian Novak) Djokovic have been dominating tennis for many years. They are all extremely competitive. How is your relationship? As time goes by, do things soften? Is everything relativized?
Answer: This is like everything in life; one has more affinity with some than with others. Not me: everyone. But I have been lucky throughout my career that in every tournament or in any event I go to the dressing room, I see my teammates; and few problems I have looked for. I have never had the feeling of not wanting to see one; or not wanting to see another. I get to the locker room, I see colleagues with whom we share many things, week after week; and it makes me happy to be able to greet them, to be able to share opinions… and the reality of moments that we live together.
Over the years, even more. When you are younger, it is true that you take rivalry and competitiveness more to the extreme. When you are a little older then the illusion to win and to achieve things is the same; But you know that what happens off the track doesn’t have a big impact on what happens on the track.
And luckily, between us, the relationship is; and, for most of the time we have shared on the circuit, it has been, good. Both with Novak and Roger, as with (the Scotsman) Andy (Murray); with all of us who have had a more ‘lively’ rivalry, if you can say so; now it is more latent. And the things we do show it.
Novak was now with me in Kazakhstan, at the end of the year, doing an exhibition for my foundation. I was in Milan two years ago playing for yours. Now I am going to South Africa to play an exhibition for Roger’s foundation… and the reality is that I am delighted to do so.
Federer was at the opening of my Academy in Manacor … the truth is that we understand that it is essential to help us, too; and to maintain a positive relationship that I think also helps our sport and to transmit values that are good for young people.
Q: If you ever have children, would you like them to be tennis players? Would you like them to be athletes, at least? Or do you not care about this?
A: I would like them to practice sports, whatever they want. I think sport … not everything, obviously; But there are many sports that help us grow with the appropriate values of camaraderie, effort, respect … and I think it is a good educational model for young people.
So yes, I would. But sport is not the only way to have a good training; there are others that are very valid, too.
But I, as an athlete and knowing what the world of sports is, well, I would be excited if they were athletes in some way. I am not saying professionals; but that they had the spirit of being athletes. EFE