Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick, 2004

The story of a 18 year old kid who defeats the world number one to help his team win the Davis Cup trophy.

From Rafael Nadal’s autobiography, Rafa:

You didn’t need especially fine antennae on the eve of the Davis Cup Final of 2004 to spot the disgruntlement in the faces of Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo, denied their places in history by the eighteen-year-old upstart Nadal.
It was obvious by anybody watching the team press conference the night before the first day of play, seeing the foursome pose for photographs, that the Spanish team was not a portrait of patriotic harmony. Carlos Moya, Spain’s number one, spoke with ambassadorial poise; Ferrero and Robredo looked as if they would rather be somewhere else; Nadal fidgeted, stared at his feet and forced smiles that did little to disguise his unease.

“When Rafa came to me and said he was willing to cede his place in the match against Roddick to one of the two older guys, I said no, that was the captains’ call and, anyway, he had my full confidence. But inside,” Moya recalls, “I had my doubts.” Moya transmitted the same message to Toni Nadal, who was also uncomfortable. “The decision has been made,” Moya said, “and I saw no point in causing even more tension in the group, and adding to the pressure on Rafa, who was in a dilemma, by saying anything else.”

Moya spoke bluntly to Ferrero, asking him to take the decision on the chin and remember that he had played his part in getting Spain to the final. The Davis Cup record books would show that, and wins for him and Nadal would mean victory for him too. Whether they bought the argument or not, Rafa’s doubts as to the legitimacy of him playing was now an added factor of concern for Moya. Had Rafa been more brash, less sensitive, had he either not picked up on, or simply not been bothered by, the ill feeling that suddenly plagued the group, he would at least have been going into the decisive match against the experienced American number one in a less cluttered frame of mind. But that was not the case.
Moya knew very well that beneath the gladiatorial front he put on during a match there lurked a wary, sensitive soul; he knew the Clark Kent Rafa the indecisive one who had to hear many opinions before he could make up his mind, the one afraid of the dark, frightened of dogs. When Nadal visited Moya at home, Moya had to lock up his dog up in a bedroom, otherwise Nadal would be completely incapable of settling down.

He was a highly strung young man alert to other people’s feelings, accustomed to a protected and harmonious family environment, out of sorts when there was bad blood. Spain’s Davis Cup family was distinctly out of sorts now, and making things worse, Nadal was – if not the cause – certainly at the heart of the problem. Getting his head in order for the biggest match of his life, Moya sensed, was going to be a bigger challenge than usual for his young friend. As if that were not bad enough, Moya could not help reminding himself that Rafa, however sharp he might have looked in training that week, had lost just fourteen days earlier against a player ranked 400 in the world. And his serve was conspicuously weaker than Roddick’s, which was almost 50 percent faster.

But Moya did also have reasons to believe in his young teammate. he had know Rafa since he was twelve years old, had trained with him scores of times, and had been beaten by him two years earlier in an important tournament. No top professional had been closer to Rafa, and none would continue to remain on more intimate terms with him, than his fellow Mallorcan.

Read more:
2004 Davis Cup final: Nadal defeats Roddick

France vs Spain Davis Cup semifinal recap

One year after the semi-final against Serbia, deprived of Djokovic, France hosts Spain … deprived of Nadal, injured. Nadal’s absence changes everything and the tie loses a lot of its interest. The French are now the clear favorites to reach the Davis Cup final for the second year in a row, the third time in five years. A feat that hides the catastrophic results of the French players in Grand Slams this year and somehow confirms the supporters of the Davis Cup reform.

Un an après la demie-finale contre la Serbie privée de Djokovic, la France reçoit l’Espagne … privée de Nadal, blessé au genou. Le numéro un mondial absent, cette rencontre perd beaucoup de son intérêt et les Français sont hyper favoris pour atteindre la finale pour la 2ème année consécutive, la 3ème fois en 5 ans. Un exploit qui masque les résultats catastrophiques des Français en Grand Chelem cette année et conforte les partisans de la réforme de la Coupe Davis.
Le fan club officiel de l’équipe de France a troqué samedi le maillot bleu pour un maillot noir, en signe de deuil et d’opposition au nouveau format. Qu’en pensez-vous? Etes vous pour ou contre ce changement?

Here’s the recap of my Davis Cup weekend:

Borotra Cup 2017

Since 1975, Le Touquet, in Northern France, has been hosting the 16&Under Boys Summer Cup aka the Borotra Cup, and has welcomed players like Yannick Noah in 1977, Mats Wilander in 1980, Richard Gasquet and Jo Tsonga in 2001, Rafael Nadal in 2002 and Novak Djokovic in 2003.
The event brings together the best 8 European teams, and acts as the European regional qualifying competition for the Junior Davis Cup.

I spent a few days in Le Touquet to attend the event last August. I did enjoy the tennis and the city, and plan to attend again in 2018, here’s my recap:

Rafa Nadal Rio 2016

Rafa’s shirt is available on niketennis.com for €70.

Rafa Nadal Rio Olympics outfit

Rafa Nadal Rio Olympics outfit

Rafa Nadal Rio Olympics outfit

Rafa Nadal Rio Olympics outfit

Rafa Nadal Rio Olympics outfit

Photo credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville, Nike

Also read:
Rafa Nadal: To finish the two weeks with a victory was something so so special to me
Beijing 2008: Gold medal for Rafa Nadal

Olympic gold medallist Rafael Nadal

14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal was named Spain’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games:

Nadal was chosen as the country’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Games, but had to pull out with an injury and was replaced by his friend Pau Gasol.

“For me it was an amazing feeling when I was told I would carry [the flag] in 2012. It was terrible news when I had to pull out of London. I’ve missed Grand Slams and Davis Cups in my career but the toughest thing was the 2012 Olympics.”

Rafa won the gold in Beijing in 2008 and it remains one of the biggest moments of his career:

“To see the Spanish flag being raised to the accompaniment of the national anthem as I stood on the winner’s podium: well, it was one of my life’s proudest moments.”

Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.

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