There’s a great interview with Toni Nadal in French tennis magazine called, well, Tennis Magazine (shame on me, I’ve never heard of it.) I have not checked out the print version, but thanks to GTT reader Tennisfan for sending a link to what I can only assume is a good translation by Finn98 via MTF. It’s a great read in general, but this section is priceless:
T.M.: Is it true that when he was a kid, you made your nephew believe that you had magical powers?
Toni: Yes (smiles). Rafa was the little boy in the family and everybody always had so much fun with him. As a joke, I made him believe all sorts of things: that I was a star at AC Milan, that I had won the Tour de France five times with a moped (laughs)
Indeed, I also told him that I had magical powers. One day, he must have been about 7 or 8, we lacked a player in the 12-year group to compete in a team event. I took him along with us and to reassure him, I told him that he didn’t need to worry if the match went badly because I have the ability to make it rain. It was winter. So, when the match got tight at the start, it started to rain and then, Rafa turned to me and said: “It’s alright, you can make it stop now, I’m going to win!”
Another time, we were watching a match of Ivan Lendl on tv. It was a replay of an older match during which Lendl retired. Rafa didn’t know that. So, at the exact moment when Lendl retired, I told him: “Alright, I’m going to make Lendl lose.” He couldn’t believe his eyes. I have a lot of examples like that.
Something tells me Rafa’s never stopped believing.