Nadal Autobiography: Excerpts

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Subventricular Zone, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    The Telegraph recently published a series of excerpts from Nadal's autobiography "Rafa." Although an autobiography at this point in his career sounds a bit premature, the various extracts feature a lot of interesting details, albeit no earth-shattering secrets ala Agassi. This thread is intended for a mature and intelligent discussion of its contents.
     
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  2. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    Yeah, good luck with that part. :)
     
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  3. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    Rafael Nadal: epic Wimbledon triumph in 2008 against Roger Federer freed me from my mental prison

    The silence, that’s what strikes you when you play on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. You bounce the ball soundlessly up and down on the soft turf; you toss it up to serve; you hit it and you hear the echo of your own shot. And of every shot after that. Clack, clack; clack, clack.

    By Rafael Nadal 6:30AM BST 16 Aug 2011Comment

    The trimmed grass, the rich history, the ancient stadium, the players dressed in white, the respectful crowds, the venerable tradition all combine to enclose and cushion you from the outside world.
    The feeling suits me; the cathedral hush of the Centre Court is good for my game. Because what I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind but the contest itself and concentrate every atom of my being on the point I am playing. If I made a mistake on a previous point, forget it; should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it.
    The final of 2008 against Roger Federer was the biggest match of my life. I’d lost the previous two years in the final, both times against Federer, and my defeat in 2007, which went to five sets, left me utterly destroyed. I wept after that loss.
    I cried incessantly for half an hour in the dressing room. Tears of disappointment and self-recrimination. One year later I was determined that whatever else gave way, this time my head would not.
    At dinner the night before, I was already beginning to play the match in a space inside my head. I cooked, as I do most nights during Wimbledon. It helps settle my mind. That night I served pasta with shrimps.

    After dinner I played darts with my uncles and at 12.45am I went to bed, but only dozed off at four in the morning. At nine I was up. It would have been better to have slept more, but I felt as alert and nimble and full of energy as I ever had.
    For breakfast I had my usual: cereal, orange juice, a milk chocolate drink and my favourite from home, bread sprinkled with salt and olive oil.
    At about 11.30am after my final practice session on Court 17 I went to the locker room. It’s not very big, maybe a quarter of the size of a tennis court. But the tradition of the place is what gives it its grandeur. The wood panels, the green and purple colours of Wimbledon on the walls, the carpeted floor, the knowledge that so many greats have been there.
    It was unusually quiet, but this suited me. I was withdrawing deeper into myself, isolating myself from my surroundings, settling into the inflexible routines I have before each match.
    Lunch was pasta – no sauce, nothing that could possibly cause indigestion – with olive oil and salt, and a straight, simple piece of fish. To drink: water.
    At one o’clock, with an hour to go before the start, we went back to the locker room. Federer was already in there, sitting on the wooden bench where he always sits. Because we’re used to it, there was no awkwardness. In a little while we were going to do everything we possibly could to crush each other, but we’re friends. Rivals in other sports might hate each other’s guts even when they’re not playing against each other. We don’t.
    The gap in talent with Federer existed, but it was not impossibly wide so I knew that if I silenced the doubts and fears, and exaggerated hopes, inside my head better than he did, I could beat him.
    You have to cage yourself in protective armour, turn yourself into a bloodless warrior. It’s a kind of self-hypnosis, a game you play, with deadly seriousness, to disguise your own weaknesses from yourself, as well as from your rival.
    To joke or chatter about football with Federer in the locker room, as we might before an exhibition match, would have been a lie he would have seen through immediately and interpreted as a sign of fear.
    Instead, we shook hands, nodded, exchanged the faintest of smiles, went to our respective lockers, maybe 10 paces away from each other, and then each pretended the other wasn’t there.

    THE MATCH
    Set 1, Game 3
    Federer had only lost two service games in six matches on his way to the final; this would be his third. I kept pinning him back on the backhand side and three times there he fluffed his shots. I was 2-1 up, next up to serve, and, for now, winning the psychological battle. My objective was to convey to him that he was going to have to spend hours stretched to the limit. He got the message. He did not let up again. But it was too late. I held all my service games and won it 6-4.
    Set 2, Game 2
    Federer was more fired up than I remembered seeing him. He won the game, broke my serve, blew me away. When he has these patches of utter brilliance, the only thing you can do is try and stay calm, wait for the storm to pass.
    Set 2, Game 10
    At 4-2 down I luckily broke his serve. He took it badly, lost his concentration, left that zone of brilliance he had entered, and two games later I broke him again. I was 5-4 up and serving. He had three break points in all, but finally surrendered with a hesitant backhand into the net. One more set and I’d be Wimbledon champion.
    Set 3, Game 7
    I was feeling fleet-footed and sharp. We were 3-3 and I was ready to kill off the match. Three times he came to the net and three times I won the point. He was rushing things, losing his cool. I was 0-40 up. But then I succumbed to the pressure. I have never forgotten the point at 30-40. A terrible memory. He hit a perfectly returnable second serve to my forehand, and I fluffed it completely, into the net.
    Fear gripped me. That was a test of mental endurance, and I failed where I had trained myself all my life – to be strongest. We eventually went to a tiebreak and he killed me with his serving. I’d thrown it away.
    Set 4, Game 8
    Serving, at 5-2 up, I felt I was within touching distance of my life’s dream. And that was my downfall. Until now, the adrenalin had beaten the nerves; now suddenly the nerves trumped all. I felt as if I were on the edge of a precipice. I had never felt sensations quite like this before. I would end up losing a tiebreak and it was two sets all. Back to square one.
    Set 5, Game 16
    It was after nine at night and getting dark fast. I was serving for the match at 8-7. If we were back level after this game, the umpire might end play for the day, which could only help Federer. I thought, ‘I have to win this game by whatever means’.
    On my fourth match point I hesitated on the serve and it ended up being neither one thing nor the other, but he returned the ball with little bite, giving me a simple forehand return.
    He advanced on the ball, which dropped gently midcourt, and hooked it, not for a winner, but badly, awkwardly, into the middle of the net.
    I collapsed flat on my back, arms outstretched, fists clenched, roaring with triumph. The silence of the Centre Court gave way to pandemonium, and I succumbed, at long last, to the crowd’s euphoria, letting it wash over me, liberating myself from the mental prison I had inhabited from start to finish of the match, all day, the night before, the full two weeks.
    The fear of losing, the fear of winning, the frustrations, the disappointments, the poor decisions, the moments of cowardice, the dread of ending up weeping once again on the floor of the locker room shower: all gone now.
    It wasn’t relief I felt; I was beyond that. It was a rush of power and elation, an uncorking of emotion I had kept bottled up for the tensest four hours and forty-eight minutes of my life, an invasion of the purest joy.
    It’s impossible to imagine any other match that could have generated so much drama and emotion and such enormous satisfaction and joy.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/te...r-Federer-freed-me-from-my-mental-prison.html
     
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  4. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    Hahaha well, you never know. As impossible as that sounds, sanity might make an appearance in these boards.
     
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  5. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    Rafael Nadal: my pre-game rituals sharpen my senses before I go into battle

    Before a big match my mental state is as taut as it is fragile. I have to follow my locker room rituals in the same order always. It’s like a great big matchstick structure: if every piece is not symmetrically in place, it can all fall down.

    By Rafael Nadal6:45AM BST 16 Aug 2011Comment

    Forty-five minutes before facing Federer I began the last phase of my pre-game ritual. I took a cold shower. Freezing cold water. I do this before every match. It’s the point before the point of no return. Under the cold shower I enter a new space in which I feel my power and resilience grow.
    I’m a different man when I emerge. I’m activated. I’m in “the flow”, as sports psychologists describe a state of alert concentration in which the body moves by pure instinct, like a fish in a current. Nothing else exists but the battle ahead.
    I put on my earphones and listened to music. It sharpens that sense of flow, removes me further from my surroundings. While Titín, my physical therapist, bandaged my left foot, I put the grips on my rackets, all six I’d be taking on court. I always do this. They come with a black pre-grip.
    I roll a white tape over the black one, spinning the tape around and around, working diagonally up the shaft. I don’t need to think about it, I just do it. As if in a trance.
    After Titín had bandaged my knees, I stood up, got dressed, went to a basin, and ran water through my hair. Then I put on my bandanna. It’s another manoeuvre that requires no thought, but I do it slowly, carefully, tying it tightly and very deliberately behind the back of my head.

    There’s a practical point to it: keeping my hair from falling over my eyes. But it’s also another moment in the ritual, another decisive moment of no return, like the cold shower, when my sense is sharpened that very soon I’ll be entering battle.
    Titín bandaged the fingers of my left hand, my playing hand, his moves as mechanical and silent as mine when I wrap the grips around my rackets. There’s nothing cosmetic about this. Without the bandages, the skin would stretch and tear during the game.
    I stood up and began exercising, violently — activating my explosiveness, as Titín calls it. I jumped up and down, ran in short bursts from one end of the cramped space to the other — no more than six metres or so. I stopped short, rotated my neck, my shoulders, my wrists, crouched down and bent my knees. Then more jumps, more mini-sprints, as if I were alone in my gym back home. Always with my earphones on, the music pumping inside my head.
    I went to take a pee. (I find myself taking a lot of pees – nervous pees – just before a game, sometimes five or six in that final hour.) Then I came back, swung my arms high and round my shoulders, hard.
    I sat down and checked my racquets, felt the balance, the weight; pulled up my socks, checked that both were exactly the same height on my calves.
    Once on court, I sat down, took off my white tracksuit top, and took a sip from a bottle of water. Then from a second bottle. I repeat the sequence, every time, before a match begins, and at every break between games, until a match is over. A sip from one bottle, and then from another.
    And then I put the two bottles down at my feet, in front of my chair to my left, one neatly behind the other, diagonally aimed at the court. Some call it superstition, but it’s not. If it were superstition, why would I keep doing the same thing over and over whether I win or lose? It’s a way of placing myself in a match, ordering my surroundings to match the order I seek in my head.
    The last part of the ritual, as important as all the preparations that went before, was to look up, scan the perimeter of the stadium, and search for my family members among the blur of the Centre Court crowd, locking their exact coordinates inside my head.
    I don’t let them intrude on my thoughts during a match – I don’t ever let myself smile during a match – but knowing they are there, as they always have been, gives me the peace of mind on which my success as a player rests. I build a wall around myself when I play, but my family is the cement that holds the wall together.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/te...harpen-my-senses-before-I-go-into-battle.html
     
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  6. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    Rafael Nadal: family crisis destroyed my body and soul

    In the second part of our exclusive serialisation of his autobiography Rafael Nadal describes the injury and torment he suffered after the separation of his beloved parents.

    By Rafael Nadal7:00AM BST 17 Aug 20117 Comments

    On the first leg of the long journey back from the 2009 Australian Open, on the flight from Melbourne to Dubai, my father told me there were problems back home between himself and my mother.I quickly figured out he meant a separation was on the cards. The news left me stunned. I didn’t talk to my father on the rest of the trip home.

    My parents were the pillar of my life and that pillar had crumbled. The continuity I so valued in my life had been cut in half, and the emotional order I depend on had been dealt a shocking blow. Our family was close and united, there had been no conflict visible, all we had ever seen was harmony and good cheer. Assimilating the news that my parents had been going through such a crisis after nearly 30 years of marriage was heartbreaking.
    My family had always been the holy, untouchable core of my life, my centre of stability and a living album of my wonderful childhood memories.

    Suddenly, and utterly without warning, the happy family portrait had cracked. I suffered on behalf of my father, my mother and my sister, who were all having a terrible time. But everybody was affected: my uncles and aunt, my grandparents, my nephews and nieces. Our whole world was destabilised, and contact between members of the family became, for the first time that I had been aware of, awkward and unnatural; no one knew at first how to react. Returning back home had always been a joy; now it became uncomfortable and strange.

    Through all these years of constant travel and ever more frenzied claims on my time as my fame had grown, Manacor and our neighbouring seaside resort of Porto Cristo was a bubble of peace and sanity, a private world where I could isolate myself from the celebrity madness and be entirely myself again.

    Fishing, golf, friends, the old routine of family lunches and dinners - all that had changed. My father had moved out of our Porto Cristo home, and now when we sat down to eat or watch TV, he wasn’t there. Where there had been laughter and jokes, a heavy silence hung. Paradise had become paradise lost.

    Strangely, the effect on my game was not immediate. I was on a winning streak, and the positive momentum carried me through for a couple of months. I felt no elation at my victories, but my body somehow kept going through the motions.

    My attitude was bad. I was depressed, lacking in enthusiasm. On the surface I remained a tennis-playing automaton, but the man inside had lost all love of life. My team members were at a loss as to how to react to the gloom that descended on me. I became a different person, distant and cold; short and sharp in conversation. They worried about me, and they worried about the impact of my parents’ separation on my game.

    They knew I couldn’t keep winning; they knew something had to give. And it did. First it was my knees that went. I felt the first twinges in Miami, at the end of March. The pain got worse week by week, but I managed to keep playing through it until early May, in Madrid, when I couldn’t keep going anymore. Mind could no longer overcome matter and I took a break.

    I came back a couple of weeks later for the French Open. Maybe I should not have competed at Roland Garros, but I had won the championship the previous four years and I felt a duty to defend my crown, however unlikely the prospect of victory felt. Sure enough, I lost in the fourth round to Robin Soderling of Sweden, my first ever defeat in that tournament.

    This finally pushed me over the edge. I’d made a huge effort to be in shape for Roland Garros, battling to overcome both my parents’ separation and the pain in my knees, but now I knew that, debilitated in mind and body, I could no longer keep going.

    Terribly sad, I pulled out of Wimbledon. My knees were the immediate reason, but I knew that the root cause was my state of mind. My competitive zeal had waned, the adrenalin had dried up.

    My physical trainer, Joan Forcades, says there is a “holistic” cause-and-effect connection between emotional distress and physical collapse. He says that if your head is in permanent stress, you sleep little and your mind is distracted – exactly the symptoms I was showing at that time – the impact on your body is devastating. Messages are relayed to the muscles that, under the pressure of competition, lead to injuries. I am sure Joan is right.

    Being at Wimbledon, trying to get fit, instead of at home reminded me every minute of how dramatically our lives had been altered, which only deepened my introspection and grief. I’ve never reached the point of hating tennis, as some professional players say they have. You can’t hate something, I don’t think, that puts the food on the table and has given you almost everything you have in life.

    There can come a time, though, when you grow weary and a part of that fanatical enthusiasm you need to keep competing at the highest level begins to ebb. I’ve always believed, as my coach and uncle Toni has, that to keep competing you must never break your established patterns. You have to carry on training hard, long hours whether you feel like it or not, because any slack in intensity will be reflected in your results on court. But a point comes when you just cannot keep going at 100 percent, mind and body, every single day, and the best thing to do is pause and wait for the desire to return.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/te...family-crisis-destroyed-my-body-and-soul.html
     
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  7. OTMPut

    OTMPut Hall of Fame

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    for some reason it isn't half as interesting as pete's or agassi's. seems like a banal description of what happened on the court, which we all saw.

    may be a translation issue.
     
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  8. MichaelNadal

    MichaelNadal Bionic Poster

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    I absolutely love the excerpt on Wimby 2008, I can only imagine how he felt when he says he cried on the floor in the shower for 30 mins after Wimby 07. Wow.
     
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  9. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Very interesting to read this, especially as I'm somewhat curious about the prematch mental/psychological routines of players. Cheers...

    R
     
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  10. Subventricular Zone

    Subventricular Zone Rookie

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    Yeah, most athletes seem to have varying degrees of OCD-ness but Nadal is certainly one of the most extreme.
     
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  11. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    from another thread...

    Rafael Nadal: learning how to cook with tio Toni

     
    AnOctorokForDinner likes this.
    #11
  12. tusharlovesrafa

    tusharlovesrafa Hall of Fame

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    dude u really work hard to prove your point...keep your work going..:twisted:
     
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  13. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    Another thread derailed by trolls.

    Well done.
     
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  14. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    no doubt they'll sell a lot of this book with such thrilling excerpts.
    (i have to say i'm a bit afraid about what's left for "part 2"...)
     
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  15. Manus Domini

    Manus Domini Hall of Fame

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    Well, *******s fans really can't say anything about Federer crying after Australian Open 2009 now, can they?
     
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  16. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Does he discuss his OCD?
     
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  17. This is probably one of the top 5 GOAT-posts in the history of this forum !:)
     
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  18. CMM

    CMM Legend

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    #18
  19. kishnabe

    kishnabe G.O.A.T.

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    LOL nice Cooking lesson!
     
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  20. winstonplum

    winstonplum Hall of Fame

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    Was he really serving for the match at 5-2 in the third in Wimby '08? According to the except he was. I don't remember him being up two breaks in the third.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Nice extracts. Keep them coming. I just read them and not buy the book, like I did for Open, because, between the extracts and the posters' comments, all the juicy stuff gets covered.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I went to take a pee. (I find myself taking a lot of pees – nervous pees – just before a game, sometimes five or six in that final hour.)
     
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  23. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Obsessive Colon Disease ?? Orifiic Constipatory Disorder ???

    Whatchoo you talkin 'bout ?
     
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  24. CMM

    CMM Legend

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    #24
  25. Bjorn99

    Bjorn99 Professional

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    Sounds like a phenomenal book that won't be appreciated by the widespread Fred and Barney public at large. (Flinstones everywhere)
     
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  26. feetofclay

    feetofclay Semi-Pro

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    There is a difference. Nadal had the dignity to cry in private. He didn't spoil Federer's trophy ceremony.
     
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  27. feetofclay

    feetofclay Semi-Pro

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    Yes he was. He should have won in straight sets.
     
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  28. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    no, he wasn't, clueless feetofclay, he didn't even break federer once in the third , forget about 2 breaks !
     
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  29. Emet74

    Emet74 Professional

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    You misread the excerpt. It says he was serving up 5-2 in the tiebreak in the 4th set.
     
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  30. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    And then he hit the most nervous double fault, as I recall.
     
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  31. winstonplum

    winstonplum Hall of Fame

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    Thank you. I watched the match last night. So frickin' good. As Nadal fan, where the heck did that guy go? He was grunting so much more; just totally locked in for every point. Perhaps he needs to go back to the cortex APD; perhaps the Duralast? He back hand was five times better three years ago. Weird, how that backhand disappeared.
     
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  32. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    Stop with your can't help it bullcrap. He used to fix his socks right before he serves and he is not doing that anymore.
     
    #32
  33. Clarky21

    Clarky21 Banned

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    He hasn't stopped that entirely,though. He still does it in the tunnel before he goes out on court.
     
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  34. eliza

    eliza Rookie

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    I hope Rafa will publicly credit whomever wrote "his"book.....
     
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  35. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    Fixing socks is not the same thing.

    The one thing Nadal has been constantly doing in his routine since before he won his first RG was to pick his butt. He did it when I first saw him in 04' and he hasn't stopped doing it since. He changed certain things(like the sock bit), clothes, altered his serve etc. but this always stayed, even though it's clearly the most embarrassing part. Why do you think that is?
     
    #35
  36. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    No, I mean before he serves. Obviously he has curbed that.
     
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  37. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvAGAdLArKY&playnext=1&list=PLC07F141DC38FA665

    Here's one that would make you a liar.
     
    #37
  38. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    It's one of a number of neurotic coping mechanisms Rafa has acquired as a direct result from Toni's terrorizing teaching methods. Hat off to the "brilliant" pedagogue (rolleyes)
     
    #38
  39. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfFRhUuiXvc&feature=related

    Another one....
     
    #39
  40. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    #40
  41. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    Too many Nadturds have their heads up Rafa's ass he needs to be jiggling it all the time.

    Your mistake,sir, have been noted.
     
    #41
  42. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    These tennis autographies confirm just how boring tennis players are compared to other athletes, but then again I suppose it's an individual sport and during most of their downtime at tournaments, all they do is eat, play video games or watch tv in their hotel room.

    I don't particularly like Agassi, but he was one of the few genuinely interesting tennis players with his personality and off-court activities.
     
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  43. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    I'm waiting for Marat's, if he bothers "writing" one.
     
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  44. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    "The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything".

    :)
     
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  45. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    You needed this book to tell you that?

    Athletes on the whole are boring ass people, with very few exceptions.
     
    #45
  46. rommil

    rommil Legend

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    Keep making a lot of mistakes then and see where it takes you.
     
    #46
  47. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    And his autobiography was one of the most interesting among the athlete ones. It felt rather genuine and much more introspective than those things usually are.
     
    #47
  48. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes I hope Safin can drag himself away from the nightclubs and his ladies to write one. He has been one of the few tennis players boring in 1980 or later to have a personality.

    I've said it many times but Safin had far more 'star potential' than Federer or Nadal. Had he been consistently successful, he would have been a much bigger celebrity than either of those 2 players, considering he is a much more interesting guy and of course with his looks.
     
    #48
  49. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Well I generally find athletes in team sports to be a more lot more interesting people . Tennis players generally need to be more narrow-minded and have tunnel vision right the away from their junior careers onwards, and that makes most of them boring people, who live and breathe their profession. In an individual sport you probably need more drive and focus if you want to succeed. In team sports with less individual pressure and of course team-mates to hangout with, they don't seem to be as dull.
     
    #49
  50. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes I really enjoyed his book. Even though I was far from a fan of Agassi, I knew that it was worthing getting his autobiography as it would be unique and a fascinating read.

    I think if Agassi had been more dedicated in the early 90s, he could have helped prevent or at least slow down the decline in popularity of tennis, from the McEnroe/Connors/Borg tennis boom era. Many casual fans loved him and didn't care about Sampras or his other peers.
     
    #50

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