Rafael Nadal at 16 was already One to Watch | Before They Were Superstars


My ambition? Well, I guess it would be
to go as far as I can, to become
a great tennis player. In 2003, Rafael Nadal
was making the transition to life as a full-time
tennis professional. His home was the
Spanish island of Mallorca, where he practised under
the watchful eye of his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal. His most important quality
is his mental toughness, he’s a real fighter. He’s always been
a strong competitor and he plays
with a lot of heart. It’s difficult, I just have to
keep on working hard every day. I know it won’t be easy. Just training hard
every day is tough, there’s so much high-level
competition out there. Normally, when I play
in tournaments, because I’m younger
than everyone else, I always think they must be
much better than me. But then you get on the court
and because I’m a fighter and I really hate losing,
things tend to level out. Another of Rafa’s uncles,
Miguel Ángel, played football
for Barcelona and Spain and had a reputation as a
tough, uncompromising defender. Both of them
are very disciplined in sport and in life
in general. That’s one outstanding quality
they share. They’re both willing to give
absolutely everything, but I think that Rafael is a better athlete
than his uncle. And I’d say that mentally he’s more aggressive
than Miguel Ángel! I love football, I played it quite seriously
until I was 11 or 12 and I liked it just as much
as tennis, maybe even more. And I still love watching it
on TV more than tennis. I like going to the cinema, going out with friends. I like football a lot. Sometimes I also like having
a night out with my friends. And more than anything just
being at home with my family. Of course I like travelling
and going to tournaments, but I also like
taking a break here. Rafa’s occasional
practice partner was his friend and former
world number one, Carlos Moyá. He had no doubt
that his fellow Mallorcan had a bright future
ahead of him. He’s aggressive,
he has a great game and he’s very ambitious
and wants to win. He’s tough to play against now, but one day, he could
be almost unbeatable. At the moment, I’m only
ranked 112th in the world so there’s a long way to go. I’ve got to continue improving but it’s not going to be easy.

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