“I am surprised you talk about that,” Nadal responded to the reporter. “That’s my surprise . . .we aren’t nobody to talk about his privacy life, no? He don’t have to say, explain to nobody about what he’s doing in his private life. That’s my think(ing). I think he’s a big champion and we have to respect his private life.”
Unlike official Friend of Tiger, Roger Federer, Rafa is a true golfing fanatic. He’s enjoyed the occasional round with Spanish star Sergio Garcia and has called Tiger Woods his “idol”. He’d probably start his own Tiger Woods fan blog if he had the time. Here’s Rafa gushing over Tiger after the golfer won the 2008 US Open on a bum knee (via golf.fanhouse):
“Tiger is probably my idol,” Nadal said last summer. “I never have an idol but he is probably the sportsman who I admire more because I like a lot his mentality.
“I like a lot his eyes when he’s going to have the important shot. He is always playing with unbelievable determination in important moments. The last part of the fourth day, only one guy with unbelievable concentration, unbelievable determination and big confidence in yourself. Only Tiger can do something like this.
“I know how tough it is playing having pain, and it is very difficult to have very good concentration when you are, in my case, running or touching the ball and you feel pain. That’s unbelievable to win a US Open like this.”
Besides sharing Tiger’s knee pain and competitive spirit, Rafa has also struggled with his own family problems while in the public eye (though these weren’t of his own making.) He spoke before last week’s World Tour Finals in London about dealing with both his injuries and his parents’ divorce this year (via the Guardian):
“My parents’ divorce made an important change in my life. It affected me. After that, when I can’t play Wimbledon, it was tough. For one month I was outside the world.”
Nadal looks terribly young amid that quiet admission. “I am OK now,” the 23-year-old says of his parents’ divorce, “but you need time to accept. And it’s more difficult to accept when you are outside home and don’t know what’s happening. At least the injury gave me time to be with my friends and family.“
Time to be with friends and family – in private.
Rafa remains in the public eye this weekend in Barcelona, where he and team Spain will take on the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup finals. Click here for the Davis Cup TV schedule.