Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Uncle Toni
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Uncle Toni 10/21/2008 - 2:30 PM

by Pete Bodo

You hang around this game long enough and you come across an impressive array of coaching types. You have the controversial Svengalis, among whom the outstanding model is Ion Tiriac. Early in his young career, Guillermo Vilas essentially said: "Here I am, make of me what you will." And Tiriac, with a great feeling for Vilas's character and appetite for work, transformed the young Argentine into a clay-court master who would be eclipsed, historically, only by Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal.

Hugs Then you have the tennis nuts, among whom Nick Bollettieri stands out. Operating on the powerful platform of his tennis academy, Bollettieri left his imprint on the contemporary game by articulating what I ultimately came to call the New World Game, based on aggressive baseline play with an emphasis on the forehand and taking the ball on the rise; Bollettieri down-sized the game, more or less eliminating the approach shot in favor of the sizzling placement hit from inside the baseline, usually with the forehand. His proteges are well known, starting with Jimmy Arias and on through Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and others. And, more than any other coach of a top player, Bollettieri has been a general tennis evangelist, spreading the gospel of tennis near and far with his eponymous academy serving as a kind of Vatican for his converts.

You have sports nuts: Brad Gilbert is a sports nut who happened to gravitate to tennis, both as a player and a coach. One of the greatest assets of this type of coach is the ability to put tennis into a general context, enabling players to ramp up their ability as competitors. Gilbert knows his X's and O's as well as anyone - yet one of his most telling coaching ploys was convincing Andy Roddick to dump that dorky visor he used to wear in favor of the more muscular, duck-bill cap. It helped Roddick earn the world no. 1 ranking.

You also have the purists: Think Paul Annacone. Although Annacone had a healthy passion for all sports, he was a true connisseur of tennis in all of its strategic, technical, and psychological dimensions. He was the perfect fit for Pete Sampras, a great believer in the less-is-more approach to most things, including his tennis. Annacone's thoughtful but never overly cerebral or byzantine analyses resonated with Sampras in what might be the most productive, successful, and, well, dignified coach-protege relationship of our time.

And then there are the mentors, the coaches who shape and mold players the way that a favorite college professor, minister, or immediate superior at your first full time job influenced you. These men and women aren't Svengalis, painting their own portraits on the canvas of a player's soul in a process that's often a tame and sunny version of that literary staple, the deal with the devil. The mentors are first and foremost tennis coaches, yet they're wise, discreet, principled and, ultimate, caring. They're just as interested in shaping young minds as exuberantly and sometimes wildly youthful games. They try to develop character, and not always for selfless reasons, because they are masters of understanding the relationship character can have to a player's results and motivations.

Bob Brett, who at various times coached Andres Gomez, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic (he's currently working with Marin Cilic), is one of the great mentors - and still one of my favorite people in tennis. An old-school disciple of Harry Hopman, Brett left Australia because he was spurned and shut out of the official cabal comprised of former Grand Slam champions and lifelong bureaucrats, Brett believed in tennis, character is destiny. He felt that if he could shape and improve the character of his players, it would produce results on the tennis court.

Bob once told me a long story about a discussion he had with Goran Ivanisevic about. . . towels. The details are insignificant, but they had to do with the way Goran disposed of the official tournament towels he used, and Brett's intent was to get Ivanisevic to think about actions and consequences, profligacy and trusteeship. It  was about towels, sure, but it was also about holding serve and about realizing that you have only so many chances to throw away - or capitalize upon - in your career. For a young player who sees nothing but future, and therefore knows nothing about regret, who never has to pay a dime for anything, and to whom everything is replaceable (by someone else, of course) at the snap of a finger, understanding about towels is a kind of doorway to understanding about digging a little deeper when you're about to lose a first-rounder in Vienna, or to getting over your disgruntlement because the drinks in the court-side cooler aren't cold enough for your taste.

Toni Nadal is a mentor, perhaps to an even greater degree than Brett. When El Jon Wertheim and I sat down with him at the US Open to plumb his coaching philosophy and background, neither of us knew exactly what to expect. Even to us as journalists, Toni has been a somewhat enigmatic figure - was he support team, family member, minder, tactician, strategist, emotional anchor?  Although he's been a bona fide tennis coach for decades (he once coached the no. 2 junior in Spain), it's almost impossible to get Toni to focus on the X's and O's - so much so that neither El Jon nor I even thought to ask him about strategic or technical issues, except in terms of Nadal's development (Did anybody ever try to change his radical style, we asked?).

When we opened the conversation with a broad question about his strengths and assets as a coach, it opened the floodgates on philosophy of life, rather than philosophy of tennis. And the two most striking words in Toni's first answer were "normal" and "discipline."

You'll have to wait until the January-February issue of Tennis to read the interview and some of Toni's most revealing and interesting replies to our questions. But I feel safe saying that  you'll be nothing less than astonished at the degree to which Rafael's (Toni never calls his nephew and protege "Rafa") development was more like basic training in life than an advanced education in tennis, with an emphasis on all the bells and whistles currently attached to our views of fitness, technique, nutrition and even equipment. Hail, Toni actually chose to practice on lousy courts with bad balls, just to teach young Rafael that winning or losing isn't about good balls or courts or strings or lights. It's about attitude, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, perspective.

The latter is such a signficant component precisely because perspective may be the hardest of all things to maintain once you hit a certain level in tennis - and players of far lesser talent than Nadal routinely hit that level at the age of 16, 17 - a time in young lives when the concept of perspective is about as familiar as quantum physics. If Toni Nadal has an outstanding virtue, it may be his fidelity to what you might call a grounded, normal life. He has fiercely resisted what might be called the decadence (with a small "d") that lays low so many players - and their coaches, who become accustomed to the cushy life of the tour. In this regard, it really helps Toni that he doesn't collect a paycheck from his nephew - and he knows it.

When you hear Toni speak about tennis and how he developed Nadal, you can't help but wonder how anyone could have so adamantly resisted transformation and the lure of over-complication. That resistance is beautifully reflected in Rafael's rough-hewn game, but also in his more subtle, long-standing refusal to take his place in what, at the heyday of Federer's dominance, seemed a pre-ordained hierarchy with which everyone grew comfortable.

I'm convinced that Toni's general resistance to entering the tennis mainstream and embracing the values of its somewhat warped culture was transmitted to his nephew, and helps account for the doggedness with which he pursued The Mighty Fed - acknowledging his rival's superiority at every turn but also never forgetting that his own mission was to work hard and give his best, let the chips fall where they may. He pursued Federer with remarkable determination, yet it was never about catching Federer per se.

In a sneaky way, Rafael Nadal is an outsider, and Toni is partly responsible for his nephew's ability to resist becoming just another guy content to go to work to take his cut, or getting all tangled up in conflicting feelings of respect, envy and resentment toward his great nemesis. And Toni seemingly achieved that without ever once resorting to platitudes about winning being "everything", or the value of being the no. 1 player in the world.

Toni simply doesn't talk in those terms. He talks about discipline, self-sufficiency (Toni refuses to take his nephew's rackets for stringing, on the grounds that Rafael's the one who has to play with the danged things. Besides, Rafael has all the time in the world when he's at a tournament, so why shouldn't he be the one dealing with that kind of thing?), and hard work and respect for everyone, regardless of his or her station in life. That may sound hokey, or carefully orchestrated to project a certain image for Toni or Rafael. All I can say is that we spent well over hour talking with Toni, and I've yet to meet someone whose true colors aren't revealed, in or between the lines, over a period of that length.

Toni Physically, Toni isn't nearly as imposing as he sometimes appears on television. He's thickly built and swarthy, but at times the light in his eyes is almost child-like. He's a realist, but given to speaking in parables, and his basic tone is philosophical. Talking to him, you can see where Rafael  got his talent for disarming loaded questions about his rivalry with Federer by pointing out the obvious: by number of major titles and ranking points, Roger Federer is by definition the best player in the world. Anything else is mere speculation or wishful thinking.

Toni studied history at the university level, but he's no intellectual. He laughs easily,  Here are some of the questions that I had to leave out of the published interview, due to space limitiations. So consider this just a brief glimpse into Toni Nadal, how he thinks, and the values he brings to the table for Rafael:

Q: Does Rafa ever complain about the perils and pressures of his position?

A: No, because he never complain about being no. 2. He already happy being there. I try always to explain to him, things that happen in life, everything has a positive and a negative. When you shoot a gun, it give you a kick in the shoulder, right? Same thing. There’s more pressure when you’re at the top, so that’s the kick back from being no. 1. A lot of people have it worse than him, they have to work much harder than him, for less, and they do it.

Q: What role does religion play in your life?

Zero. I don’t believe. I studied history in university. Religion comes from ignorance in people. Tribal societies, when they see a flash of lightning or something unusual, they say it come from the Magician. But when society move forward, and technology discover more, religion goes in the back. For me, is very important to be moral – to be good person. But not religion.

Q: What would Rafa be doing if he couldn’t play tennis any more?

A: I would like him to be involved in Spanish Olympic movement and committee, and to do things for other people. Doing things to improve the society. Whatever he wants. 

Q: Are you concerned, as a  human being, that Rafael is just being driven and pushed like a racehorse, and suffering in other aspects of his life, or education?

A: I was in university, but to me it’s not very important. For me, the important thing in life is to have an interest in things. I come here to learn something about American people. I like to see the television, what people are watching. To me, the thing is to be interested, maybe read newspapers. At the moment, young people not too interested in things. Is a pity. But when you spend so much time to be a good tennis player, journalist, business manager, you cannot do much else.

You always give up some things to have other things. When I go with girlfriend, I cannot be here. When Rafael is here, he loses chance to be at the beach with his friends. But when he’s at beach, he loses chance to be here. You cannot have everything. In this life, you have this -  or that. So for Rafael, he has a good life at the moment, like me, no? I am very happy to be sitting at my house at home in front of the beach and my garden, but if I am there all the time I am bored. When I speak with one of my kids (Toni has three) I think it better to be there, with them. But then I cannot be here, at US Open. it is always a choice: this – or that.

Q: You don’t wear a wedding ring?

A: I have three kids but no ring. I am not married because of my philosophy. When I have a friend, I don’t have to tell other people, “This is my friend!” I have not just one friend, and my girlfriend is my friend.

Q: Are a man like you and a youngster like Rafael comfortable, culturally, at a place like Wimbledon?

A: Well, I have a different concept of life. I believe that all these formalities are just because of where it is, and I understand it. But I like a more normal life, and I think Rafael is a more normal person.

For example, (Carlos) Moya is a very kind person, a good person, but he was here and when he need a car I see that he told his coach, “Phone for the driver.”  When you get used to doing nothing for yourself, it’s too easy. With Rafael, I say in that situation, do it yourself. It’s better. This was my work with him.

For me, at the moment it seem that young people have not too much interest in things, because everything is too easy for them. When I have a mobile phone, is easy, all the things. You want meeting with friend, boom-boom, it's done. When I was young, studying in Barcelona, when I came home I didn't know where my friends were. I had to go look for them. Today, it's easier, but people have no great interest in learning and knowing things. This is normal, but maybe not so good.

In this life, the most important things can’t control, like your health. Maybe your girlfriend, if she don’t want to go with you no more, then you have a problem. You must be prepared for this. When things go good, I want this, I have, I want that, I have - but then you are not prepared for when things go bad. I always try to prepare Rafael for everything.

Q: Many guys out there have five cars, three houses, even a share in  a jet. What does Rafa own?

A: At the moment, Rafael have nothing. He has not house, because his parents have money and some good houses. He has some cars - one from a sponsor (KIA), one Mercedes he win in Stuttgart. But personally for me is no is no good that young man have a good car. I don’t like to see a young people have things like that.

What do you do together, hobby-wise?

A: Rafael like fishing very much. Together, we like soccer and golf. We play golf together with another brother of mine (Miguel Angel Nadal, the former pro soccer star).

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Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 08:17 PM

Rosangel My you have me thinking (mind you not deep enough to participate in the religious thread that is going on here)...what a great setting for your soap opera!...the Meditteranean...rockin' beach bodies a producer ASAP girl!

Posted by Twister 10/22/2008 at 08:18 PM

For some reason, I feel Rafa is too controlled - he is not a child anymore - he should be more independent at 23 years of age. They seem to treat him like a baby and watch his every move. That's just my perception. As for Toni, I thought the interview was informative - but truthfully, I couldn't care less about Toni's lifestyle as some of it agree with, and other parts I disagree.....

Posted by Twister 10/22/2008 at 08:23 PM

When asked what Rafa would be doing if he doesn't play tennis anymore, Toni says what "he would like Rafa to be doing".....I really feel that Rafa doesn't have a mind of his own - very sad. Rafa seems very happy, but is very childlike in many ways. That being said, Rafa is my favorite tennis player - I find him very exciting to watch - a very nice person and great sportsman.

Posted by Matt Zemek 10/22/2008 at 08:23 PM


You seem to suggest that there is a God precisely because Pam Ewing exists (at least as a TV character). :-)

(Not to mention other lovelies of the female gender mentioned over the years here... :-)

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 08:24 PM

Twister, by "they", do you mean his fans, or his family?

Posted by Rosangel 10/22/2008 at 08:27 PM

rafadoc: in the second episode, someone would get caught out by the Spanish paparazzi doing something or other....

I think quite a bit of "Manacor" could take place on location. Professional tennis has so many wonderful rivalries and love triangles. Surely there's space somewhere (say, on the sidelines of a Davis Cup encounter) for the complicated love life of Radek Stepanek? Doesn't El numero uno know Sergio Garcia, who also used to date Martina, the Black Widow?, also Radek's ex? And then, probably episode three could include Ana's visit to Mallorca, and doubtless it would have some relationship or other to whatever may be happening in the Hott Sauce department.

I think we could come up with a tasty mix of footballers, golfers and tennis players of both sexes as sometime characters.

Posted by Rosangel 10/22/2008 at 08:30 PM

...don't even get me started on the vaguely interconnected saga of el numero uno, Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo, alleged words exchanged at Wimbledon about Ronaldo and Madrid, and Ronaldo's lovelife:)

Posted by Sherlock 10/22/2008 at 08:30 PM

LOL! Brilliant, Matt. :)

In those teen days of mine, I'd say Victoria Principal was about the best example of God's existence that I could possibly think of. :)

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 08:33 PM

Rosangel You are a creative genius! I knew you could take a picture or two but this is fab! Of course the paps would catch someone in a "less than favorable" light or in a ahem, "compromising position" ...and you are soooo right...there could easily be a "love triangle" with Rafa/Ana/Hott Sauce...the mind reels....

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 08:37 PM

Sherlock "In those teen days of mine, I'd say Victoria Principal was about the best example of God's existence that I could possibly think of. :)"

LOL!!! Now, this is the level of religion I can relate to...yes, I reside in the shallow end of the moral pool...and it is fun here.

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 08:38 PM

Rafa's okay - but this Tony guy reminds me too much of George Clooney.

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 08:43 PM

I would like to know why the family is not more concerned with Rafa always digging into his butt and doing whatever he does there. I know some people say this is a "habit", but I have seen very few people walking around constantly pulling their pants out of their rears in public like this. I saw a videoclip of him playing golf with Sergio Garcia and he's digging into his butt scratching and pulling his undies - what's with this guy? This is no "habit" - he appears to have a serious medical problem that should be checked out.

Posted by Rosangel 10/22/2008 at 08:44 PM

Sherlock: I never could fathom how Bobby could've even looked at Jenna Wade....Pam was so gorgeous!

rafadoc: we haven't even got on to Gisela Dulko's lovelife yet - Disco Tommy, Hott Sauce and Gonzo.

It's rather a shame that our lady tennis players have to actually play tennis, so can't scratch each other's eyes out with impractical acryilic nails, should there be a romantic conflict.

Posted by USB_Interface 10/22/2008 at 08:47 PM

Only 2 players have publicly mocked Rafa's on-court tics: Soderling and Djokovic. Interestingly known as 2 of the worst sportsmen in the game. Roger has complained about Rafa's time violations, but even more so about Djokovic's. But that's about the rules - I think it is cheating to regularly go over the 20 seconds between serve.

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 08:52 PM

Rosangel "we haven't even got on to Gisela Dulko's lovelife yet - Disco Tommy, Hott Sauce and Gonzo"

What is the saying? "Life is stranger than fiction" You can't make this stuff up!

...and I totally agree about the women's tennis tour because we all know how caddy women know there are times when Venus gets just dang tired of JJ's antics...oh come on with the splits will ya? Can you imagine 2 of them fighting over "their man"? Plus, with us girls, there are no can pull hair, bite, whatever it takes to kick the others booty. (I am picturing the "Dynasty" rivalry of Crystal and Alexis here.

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 08:54 PM

^^that was me:)

Posted by CurlyQ 10/22/2008 at 08:59 PM

how many girlfriends do you think Tio Toni has? Seems like he prepares himself for when girlfriend say "no mas".

Posted by Sherlock 10/22/2008 at 09:02 PM

LOL, Rafadoc. Yes, the shallow end is very comfy indeed. :)

Rosangel, LOL. I completely agree. What were you THINKING Bobby? Tut, tut. :)

Posted by Chris 10/22/2008 at 09:04 PM

I don't entirely agree with Toni, but it does make some great points especially about young people needing to carry their own weight. But whatever he has done for Rafa is great, Rafa is by far my favorite male tennis player and he's got great buns.

Posted by Matt Zemek 10/22/2008 at 09:05 PM


Speaking for myself, I'm finding the latest episode of DALLAS--with Jerry Jones and his wild, estranged employee, "Pac Man", plus his clueless puppet coach, Wade, and his prima donna receiver, T.O.--to be immensely entertaining and satisfying.

Jerry Jones is the kind of larger-than-Texas figure worthy of succeeding JR Ewing in the popular imagination....

(Wonder if Rosangel is any bit interested in the Chargers-Saints game this weekend...)

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 09:07 PM

Rafa = great guy, excellent tennis player, fabulous biceps and tush.

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:07 PM

C Note...where are you and your creative genius? I hope you are happily drunk and solving the world would love this conversation though:)

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:19 PM

*Adendum: C Note....I hope you are happily drunk with Tio Tony...and solving the world's problems...and floving him;-)

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:19 PM

*Adendum: C Note....I hope you are happily drunk with Tio Tony...and solving the world's problems...and floving him;-)

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:20 PM

wtf with the double post? Are my words so wise they should be printed twice?
*nods head at own brilliance* (kidding!)

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:21 PM

*cue sounds of crickets chirping*

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 09:24 PM

>But the thing is Matt, most nonbelievers are not interested in a protracted discussion of religion. It is the BELIEVERS who are doing most of the talking on the subject

Syd, I wouldn't say that. But often the discussion is started on the basic premise of "God does not exist so, ...." or "God exists, so..." which means that all the arguments of the other side is automatically rejected. For example, a lot of religious folks will quote the Bible as evidence which is of course unacceptable to any atheist. There must be examples of this from the other side as well. The discussion therefore quickly breaks down to the point that people aren't even willing to try starting one, because we stereotype and assume it's going to be same-old, same-old again.

But in my experience it has not been the case that religious people want to talk about religion more than non-religious people. QUITE the opposite. Most of my atheist friends are very interested in discussing various faiths (most of the time in a non-derogatory manner, by the way), and my friends of non-Christian faiths are very up front as well discussing their beliefs in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism as some major examples; but I can hardly pull a word of explanation out from some of my Christian friends about why they do or do not believe certain things. I do not know why that is and whether it's typical or only my small sample, but my friends get very defensive.

Personally, I'm non-religious but you can probably tell I enjoy these discussions.

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 09:25 PM

Gabriela, I missed your posts some months back during the RG/Wimbledon royal shakedown of Rafael. I'm happy to read you here, on this thread, and teaching me many things about RCC historical involvement in Latin America and Asia. I don't believe in arguing about religion either because faith is a very personal matter. But historical matters can be argued and does put many things into a clearer perspective/context.

Sic, how have you been, Jorge? I have sorely missed your dosage of wit and hugs over the past several months. That goes for several other posters, too, but you didn't let me "down" by appearing in this thread, "bless" your soul.

Sher, when I say I'm better off for believing in God, it is in relation to what my life could have been had I not believed. If others have chosen not to believe, that is their prerogative. Ultimately, a person makes his or her own happiness, and if the person lives well into adulthood, he or she can ascertain for him/herself if things are swell as they are or could be better vis-a-vis faith. Like you, I am all for a reasoned discussion on matters of faith (which is why I love theology and theologizing). But if the discussions spiral out of control, then it's best to discontinue the exercise.

Matt, my brother spent ALL of his education in a Catholic school/university and today he sounds exactly like Tio Toni. I spent most of my formative educational years in a secular school and made the conscious decision of choosing to study in a Catholic university when I was 90% sure of entering the secular state university. He was sick and tired of all the Religion classes of the past 15 years while I was in search for it. We followed different paths. The defining courses of my university education were in Theology and Literature. But I don't condemn nor judge him for his choice and I hope he does the same for me. What IS my point? I don't know! But take this post as a visceral reaction to what you posted earlier.

On tennis matters, I cannot wait to see Rafael play again -- LIVE! Star Sports does not carry the matches live. Once I get an internet connection, I should be able to catch some action on Masters TV!

Cheers hey-o....

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 09:25 PM

Oh and my best friend is Muslim, so include that into the list of above religions.

Posted by tenisfanatic 10/22/2008 at 09:26 PM

I like Toni's idea's alot and I agree with the fact that it's because of his ideas that Rafael is such a great player. However, I dont understand his views on religion and why he frowns upon it.

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 09:33 PM

Katrina, you have a remarkably non-judgemental attitude towards this, imo. You do not believe that non-religious people will go to hell? (This is a serious question, I'm curious.)

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 09:35 PM

Gabriela, what young Argentine player said/did anything about Rafael's on-court tics? Del Potro? (nooooo)

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 09:43 PM

Sher, what is hell? It is a concept framed within a very specific religious context and in inter-religious dialogues, the challenge for theologians is to communicate or define this notion without making people of other faiths (or non-faiths) think or feel that their religion is lacking, or that their life is wanting because hell does not exist. For example, my father believes that hell does not exist, that hell is here, on earth, and that in the end, we will all be pardoned. This is his belief. As for me, I believe that people who do not love, moreso people who have turned their back on love and its transformative powers, suffer loneliness now and will never know of its joy after death. (If the response sounds odd, my apologies, but it's the least nuanced way I could think of to answer your question so seriously posed.)

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 09:45 PM

Rafa have nothing according to Uncle Toni, then why he wear a huge Time Force watch instead of a Timex? Why he not drive a cheap car instead of that red sportscar I seen in photos? He look like he's doing okay for himself. I don't believe much of what Uncle Toni say. He be a very strange man.

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 09:47 PM

Sher, my best friend is gay. And deeply Catholic. Dilemma right there!

Tina, I wonder, too, why there can't be woman priests. Women give better lectures/homilies anyway, and the rituals of the Eucharist could use some soft, artful arm motions. But not in this decade nor the next yet, I suppose. But I just might live to see the day when I see the first ordained woman Catholic priest. I will cry when that happens.

Posted by Jamineleaf 10/22/2008 at 09:49 PM

Wow, I laughed at the last post. At least it got off the religious stuff which the discussion seems to be about, rather than talking about tennis. I like Rafa, but I fear the "grinding" style of tennis he plays will shorten his career. I think Uncle Toni needs to manage Rafa's calendar/schedule better so as not to have him play too many tournaments gapped too closely together which contributes to his frequent injuries. I also think he needs to instruct Rafa to shorten points and come to the net more often which could prolong his career.

Posted by Jasmineleaf 10/22/2008 at 09:50 PM

Why has this turned to a religious forum? can we talk more about Rafa and Toni please?

Posted by sheshe 10/22/2008 at 09:56 PM

I was very excited to visit TW today and find Pete had written a post about Uncle Tony. I have been to many Grand Slams and have always admired Rafa and eventually Uncle Tony, because he was always there. I recently met them both in Cincinatti and foung them both very down to earth and approachable. Uncle Tony even used my camera to take a picture of me with Rafa (with a huge smile on his face!) So needless to say I AM EXAUSTED! I have read each and every post..First because I was interested, and a little surprised at his comment regarding religion. Only because I was well shocked and a guess disappointed, It just didn't seem to fit with how I have "perceived" him fondly over the last couple of years. I can not judge him. And I am ignorant about the Spanish Religious Beliefs, so I can only say "that's too bad" IMO...I'm sure is is a very happy man. He is European, I am American. So I can not begin to start any argument. Just a little sad now. I have been a Catholic all my life. Attend a non denonminational Christian church regularly with my husband a two children. Our faith is our Rock. Our Foundation and it is a Living Force.. More powerful and important than anything AT All..And this type of Faith is only acquired by Knowledge. Not Ignorance..I hate to say this but Ignorance (Not Searching or Knowing) God and His Infinate Wisdom is truly so said to me. So I can not judge, but sorrow. They are missing real Mercy and Peace. That's it . I will still be a Rafa Fan! But I wish some people would search for what I have Found.

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 09:57 PM

headless...I think you make a good point...and I hope you are right...Rafa needs to be Rafa...separate from Tio Tony, his loving family, etc....we all need to know who we are and if Rafa trusts his agent Carlos Costa and ventures into signing contracts with Time Force, Lanvin, etc...good for him!! Rafa is 22 years old and should be making his own decisions (marketing, love life, lifestyle, etc.). I would hate for him to miss out on certain things because he feels "obligated" to live the life Tio Tony expects him to... Rafa has a good just let him live his life and trust him to do it in a mature but independent manner.
*end of rant for now*

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 09:58 PM


Posted by tina 10/22/2008 at 10:01 PM

United Atheist Alliance vs. Allied Atheist Alliance = the future of religious war, according to South Park.

Cartman was just told: "No one single answer is ever the answer".

Posted by Aussie Angel (All Aboard the Crazy Elf Train) 10/22/2008 at 10:07 PM

Ok I was warned not to come over and I think I will leave.

I find it funny how about four questions were asked and answered and now this thread has turned into a religious thread. I thought it was about Uncle T and his relationship with Rafa and life.

Did he have all 3 kids with the same girlfriend?

Posted by malimeda 10/22/2008 at 10:08 PM

"Manacor", Episode One:

El Numero Uno arrives at Pro-Am golf tourney in a chopper. He's matured somewhat, the other participants whisper surprised - see how he has stopped using those childish fuzzy animal-shaped club-head covers:

Little Numero Uno can hit a drive:

and a putt:

...but this nasty butt-picking before each shot will surely result in Tio Toni once more nixing the purchase of the new laptop. So much for maturing, club patrons mutter.

El Numero Uno smiles bravely, trying to pretend laptop nixing means nothing to him:

But all this excessive smiling is proof positive he is still not mature enough to be allowed free access to his money. Word is he can have no more than two ridiculously expensive cars. (cue sinister theme music)

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 10:13 PM

Katrina, thanks for a serious answer. You are right it is hard to capture in a simple comment something so complicated. If I might bother you a little further, I'm curious if your gay friend is able to verbally reconsile his religion with his religious leaders' attitude towards him (and his sexuality). It seems to me that it would make one very unhappy to be both gay and Catholic. This appears to contradict your (in my humble opinion very nice) idea about finding happiness through religion. I'm a bit of a utilitarian, so that argument about end-goal of happiness resonates with me. But following that train of thought, I am stumped about a person believing into two contradictory things -- that being homosexual is wrong, and that at the same time being homosexual is right for him/her. (By the way if you'd rather take this offline, my email is misssheron at inbox dot com)

Posted by Aussie Angel (All Aboard the Crazy Elf Train) 10/22/2008 at 10:13 PM

sheshe - OMG Why are you disappointed? If you have met the two and thought they were nice poeple what has changed. Just because he doesn't follow the same faith as you.

I am not religious and I am a great person. I am kind, compassionate and dte.

That is ridiculous.

Now I am really going over to the other thread.

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 10:16 PM

why a boy like Rafa with so much money have not gotten a nice haircut?

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 10:20 PM

what's wrong with Carlos Moya asking his coach to phone for a driver? That's what Uncle Toni should be doing for Rafa.

Posted by vince 10/22/2008 at 10:34 PM

Wow, Uncle Tony doesn't seem too bright.

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 10:40 PM

Sher, no problem at all with me (your questions) although I can see it is a bit of one to others. My friend is also a member of an all-male choir that sings at one of the city's major Catholic churches (by major I mean it's not only situated at the intersection of two big highways but it's also historically significant to our recent national history of a People Power revolution) and most of the members are gay. His group had to weather much gossip and criticism concerning their sexual preferences, and it was hard to accept for the openly gay members. However, he doesn't see a contradiction in the basic dogma of the RCC but does react to certain highly placed personalities whom he perceives as making anti-gay or homophobic statements. We've had several impassioned arguments on this topic and I have sometimes wondered how he has remained faithful to the Church to this day.

But he does believe in the good that the Church has done and if there is one thing we share in common, it's that our faith in God has kept us sane through the darkest moments of our lives. Our common passion for Music and how it is channeled in liturgical service has enhanced the faith aspect much more.

He may be unhappy with the slights of certain church members against gays, but he also sees that the Church in its essence is not to blame for this. I am deeply grateful for his ability to distinguish between the two (i.e., his not condemning the Church for the short-sightedness of some of its members).

I just read Pete's post on Your Call and I am with him on his sentiment of being personally disappointed in Tio Toni's take on religion. But that didn't stop me from being moved by Tio Toni's words about Rafael, who, for me, is the central figure in the interview. Maybe that's why I wasn't bothered by what Tio Toni said.

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 10:43 PM

It's a good thing Rafa can just hitch a ride off his more indulged Spanish buddies! (this was in response to Anon at 10:20 PM)

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 10:49 PM

Katrina, thanks again for the responses, it was interesting to read. I'd love to talk more, and respond to some of this, maybe tomorrow. The people who have a problem will have long since moved on, I think. Good night!

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!) 10/22/2008 at 10:49 PM

Why is it so inconceivable that someone may have found strength, and mercy and peace and knowledge in study of the human spirit and not in the search for a 'god'? That they may be seekers of truth by being open and constantly questioning their surroundings in the effort to simply understand?

There are many many paths to the same destination. Is it so alarming, or even sad, that someone takes an alternative path?

Slice n dice - word on your 5:31..

on that note - i'm following aussie angel back to the other thread....

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 10:53 PM

haha malimeda, thanks for great pictures as always!

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 10:57 PM

I can't understand why a question regarding religion was asked of Mr. Nadal in this interview. It has no relevance to tennis and is his own is the question of why he isn't wearing a wedding band.

Posted by Holly 10/22/2008 at 11:18 PM

fascinating article. I'm excited to read the rest.

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 11:57 PM

Night, Sher. Keep 'em coming. The questions, I mean.

Posted by Rosangel 10/23/2008 at 12:15 AM

So, can one of our Spanish posters enlighten me (I will need this while drafting future episodes of "Manacor") - given that Tio Toni has not married, how would his children be named? i.e. would they carry his name, or their mother's name? Or both? Since clearly there's no issue regarding their parentage, and his girlfriend appears to basically be his common-law wife, which is not all that unusual - certainly not in the UK where I come from. How do Spanish naming conventions deal with children who are acknowledged, but whose parents haven't tied the knot?

Posted by Aussie Angel (All Aboard the Crazy Elf Train) 10/23/2008 at 12:35 AM

Also Rafa doesn't go to a hairdresser, his mother cuts his hair. I think he needs to go to a hairdresser maybe he could go to Lopez's. That is more money saving tips.

I am sure Rafa pays Uncle Tony something when he wins a big tournie. I could not imagine Rafa not giving Tony a percentage of his Wimbledon win. I would feel so guilty if that was me.

I wouldn't expect money to be discussed in the interview anyway.

Posted by jewell 10/23/2008 at 12:47 AM

But Rafa's amateurish haircuts are all part of his charm. :) I don't want him to look metro like Lopez!

*splashing about in the shallow end*

Posted by Nikki 10/23/2008 at 12:49 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how judgemental people can be. So what if Tio toni does not believe in religion or marraige. We all have our personal views and I bet we express them freely. Isn't it extremely hypocritical to try and uphold others to our moral standards? For those of you who were DISAPPOINTED, take a look in the mirror. And for those who seem to think it is impossible that he doesn't get paid, you need to understand that there are numerous dynamics to each culture. Some people actaully do things out of love and obligation and not because of financial gain. As for Rafa, I think he is blessed to have such a devoted uncle who helps to keep him grounded. Watching him play, it is sometimes so easy to forget that he is only 22. He really appears to enjoy what he is doing and I'm sure millions of others would love to be in his shoes. Grow up people and stop making fun of what some of you consider weird or strange just because you do not understand it. Remember, people live by what is normal and acceptable to them and not by what "YOU" think is right.

Posted by one_love 10/23/2008 at 01:19 AM

Pete, great post! Look forward to reading the full article. So many interesting questions have come up in the discussion.

Posted by Ogolon 10/23/2008 at 01:44 AM

If the parents are not married but are recognised as a couple (administrative stuff) the children´s surnames are as usual:
Name/s - Father´s Surname - Mother´s surname
(altough actually the parents can decide which surname goes first, but I think 99,999% of the population uses the father´s surname first because it has been he tradition for many many yeras...).

Posted by ogolon 10/23/2008 at 01:50 AM

I´m sure that rafa has free clocks because he appears on the ad of "time force". The big red car thing...well, his father is not poor, and he also got free cars at some tournaments...and what if he just wants a nice car? he can afford it..

Posted by Ogolon 10/23/2008 at 01:53 AM

one last thing: what Toni says abut his views on religion is just his personal opinion. I have seen pictures of a very young rafa on his "1st comunion" party, so probably rafa parents have a different view. I made my 1st comunion as well, but nowadays I couldn´t care less about religion...
What I want now is to read something about backhands!

Posted by jetsetter 10/23/2008 at 02:17 AM

Nice article,.

I always admire Tony,.He is the most cool coach I've ever seenin every Rafa's tournament. Just bit dissapointed when I found out that he is not religious man but good enough when he said, moral is important..

i read one article in magazine also that uncle Tony always remind RAFA since he satrted playing tennis that " anything happened in the court, especially when you are loosing the game,,uncle Tony said,,DON'T BLAME THE BALL, DON'T SMASH YOUR RACKET because its badluck BUT INSTEAD, GIVE THE BEST HIT YOU CAN and THINK OF BETTER PLAY AND NOT THE WINNING...

Uncle Tony is good enough to handle RAFA, as everyone can see,, Rafa was trained as a behave young lad, He always wave the crowd even he lost the match, Rafa always stop and sign authographs to fans. And talking about pulling pants(butt),, is just his manarism like most other people in other ways.,,and its not really embarrassing ,,its

To uncle Tony,, keep it up and to RAFA, you are always my tennis hero.


Posted by jetsetter 10/23/2008 at 02:25 AM

i LOVE what you said10/23/2008 @ 12:49 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how judgemental people can be. So what if Tio toni does not believe in religion or marraige. We all have our personal views and I bet we express them freely. Isn't it extremely hypocritical to try and uphold others to our moral standards? For those of you who were DISAPPOINTED, take a look in the mirror. And for those who seem to think it is impossible that he doesn't get paid, you need to understand that there are numerous dynamics to each culture. Some people actaully do things out of love and obligation and not because of financial gain. As for Rafa, I think he is blessed to have such a devoted uncle who helps to keep him grounded. Watching him play, it is sometimes so easy to forget that he is only 22. He really appears to enjoy what he is doing and I'm sure millions of others would love to be in his shoes. Grow up people and stop making fun of what some of you consider weird or strange just because you do not understand it. Remember, people live by what is normal and acceptable to them and not by what "YOU" think is right.

True lala.

Posted by 1221 10/23/2008 at 02:59 AM

"Hail, Toni actually chose to practice on lousy courts with bad balls, just to teach young Rafael that winning or losing isn't about good balls or courts or strings or lights. It's about attitude, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, perspective."

amazing. I just have to say based solely on this article and how I've seen Rafa...if everyone in this world have an uncle like Toni...the world would be a much better place.

Posted by USB_Interface 10/23/2008 at 03:20 AM

I should point that Fed can be a quite a prima-donna at times. Remember how he complained a few times he was not placed on Rod Laver arena and placed on Vodafone instead? I think in the end, Roger will be remembered as a minor transitional champion between Sampras and Rafa. Rafa will win probably 17-20 slams.

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 10/23/2008 at 04:08 AM

Ogolon and Rosangel,

the parents of a child do NOT have to recognized as a couple, they just have to be acknowledged as the mother and father in a document known as El Libro de Famillia (the Family Book), naming conventions are up to the parents, but the convention is that the father's surname goes first and then the mother's - unless, of course, the mother has a particularly "important" surname, then they are likely to switch the order; it's entirely up to them.

It's common for people to build lives together here without getting married; if they live together long enough (and share bank accounts, property, CHILDREN, etc.) for all intents and purposes they have are the same as a married couple under the eyes of the law. This is called "Pareja de Hecho".

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 10/23/2008 at 04:12 AM

sheshe, I have to agree with AussieAngel here - why would you be disappointed that Toni is not religious? You met a kind person who treats strangers well and is generous with his time. As far as we know, he doesn't steal, kill, cause harm to others... Isn't that enough to make him a good person in your eyes?

Conversely, if you met a total jerk, or worse a criminal, would your opinion of them change favorably if you found out they professed to be religious? Serious question.

(George W. Bush and his legions of evangelical voters comes to mind.)

Posted by gabriela Valentina (the pop historian ) 10/23/2008 at 04:45 AM

So, can one of our Spanish posters enlighten me (I will need this while drafting future episodes of "Manacor") - given that Tio Toni has not married, how would his children be named? i.e. would they carry his name, or their mother's name? Or both? Since clearly there's no issue regarding their parentage, and his girlfriend appears to basically be his common-law wife, which is not all that unusual - certainly not in the UK where I come from. How do Spanish naming conventions deal with children who are acknowledged, but whose parents haven't tied the knot? (POST BY ROSANGEL,FUTURE AUTHORESS OF BESTSELLING SOAP OPERA ..)

Rosangel: All children(adults too) in Spain have two last names. For instance if your name is Federico and you are the son of " José GARCIA TAPÍAS" and "Josefa LORCA GONZALEZ",then you will be born "Federico Garcia Lorca" and remain so until your dying day. That goes for women too. No one changes their name . It also goes for children whose parents are not married. A relationship like Tony Nadal's is probably a "pareja de hecho" (literally "a couple in fact") and all children of such relationships are ipso facto covered by every legal protection guaranteed to the children of married couples. There are no distinctions under Spanish law. It's not a question of being acknowledged or not. Those kids would be (if it were a girl for instance: Niña Nadal ***** (I don't know the last name of his pareja de hecho)

Our current president is really Rodriguez Zapatero and was always known as such. I would guess that the foreign press just assumed that his last name was the last of these two family names and began referring to him as Zapatero. Anyway,since Rodriguezes are a dime a dozen, Zapatero has caught on . But his daughters'´last name is Rodriguez + (whatever their mother's last name is).

bottom line:
1. we all have two last names.
2.a father and a mother pass on the FIRST of these two last names to their offspring

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 04:58 AM

Thank you so much Pete, Toni is a fascinating person and I'm looking forward to the main article.
>>In Madrid, I always knew when it was Toni yelling for his nephew during a match, because he always shouts "Vamos Rafael!" .>>

Are you SURE? I mean, are you sure it was Rafael, not Rafel? It sounds strange to me that he would use the Spanish version of the name when addressing him directly in such a situation instead of what they call him at home and when speaking their own language, but I've never had a chance to observe in person, so I don't actually know. I would have expected him to use Rafel, but if you're sure it was Rafael, then ok, and that's... interesting. Might be a situation specific use then. :-)

Posted by gabriela Valentina (the pop historian ) 10/23/2008 at 05:17 AM

KATRINA: Glad to hear from you again! I do hope you see this. I think our time difference gets in the way. Actually I was on during RG and WIMBLEDON but disappeared completely and resurfaced only recently. I did the Olympics without benefit of TWibe moral support and it was a harrowing experience but we squeaked by!!

History does fascinate me and is a bit easier to pin down than religious belief but ,of course,it has to be acknowledged than even a historical discussion of events can lead to supporting an agenda(suppressing some facts,;ignoring others) We are all guilty -including moi myself- of this . Still, I would feel on much shakier ground arguing about the unarguable(one either believes or doesn't-you can not argue someone into belief). It's difficult to come up with an answer against numbers that would have any meaning.
FACT: "such and such" slaughtered x number of people in ywz number of years compared to "so and so" which "only" slaughtered and executed a mere z number. Therefore, it is correct to make the assumption that it is historically wrong to maintain that "so and so" was the more evil of the two.
PROPAGANDA: for politically expedient reasons throughout the sphere of influence of "such and such" there grew up a legend of disproportionate size and scope equating "so and so" with obscurantist evil incarnate - alegend that remains firmly in place today because people refuse to look at facts and prefer to cling to their myths and legends.
That the above propaganda continues to hold sway in many people's minds is a great deterrent to the recognition of much great good that has been accomplished by "so and so", such as the alleviation of much pain.misery and injustice in the world,the preservation of civilisations and culture and the patronage of the arts(to name a few).

.ON ANOTHER NOTE.. we have a saying in Spanish that it is all right to denounce the sin(crime) but not the sinner (ha,ha,ha). The VERY nasty comment (not really fit for print) made about Rafa's lamentable habit was probably said in jest (Argies and Spanish share a typical and similar locker- room sense of humour). It 's just that it should have stayed in the locker- room where it would have been much appreciated. It was hardly something to shout to the press.However,youth and inexperience are sufficient excuses for me. I will not hold this against one of my favourite rising stars!!

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 05:32 AM

JB - thank you for your great comments @2.35 on what tso said. I'm sure I couldn't have commented better myself. :-) I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Posted by gabriela Valentina (the pop historian ) 10/23/2008 at 05:33 AM

Tuulet: I think at home,at least in his immediate family ,he is called Rafalet (Mallorcan diminuitive). But probably in public Tío Tony might prefer Rafael( I'm sure Courier's coach didn't yell "C'mon Jimmy" ... But you never know. After all,there is JIMMY Carter and
BILL Clinton(well,at least it wasn't BILLY....)...

who knows? Rosangel was there and we weren't so I'd be inclined to take her word too

Posted by gabriela Valentina (the pop historian ) 10/23/2008 at 05:34 AM

oh my goodness; Tuulia I apologise. I got your name wrong. It won't happen again.

Posted by gabriela Valentina (the pop historian ) 10/23/2008 at 05:53 AM

"If the Nadals had thrown in their entire life savings and moved to a different country to help their son become a great tennis player I doubt they'd be this grounded when it came to the rewards"(Anonymous for now...)
Somebody upstream made the above observation and I can't remember who it was.SORRY)

I'm of the opinion that any family that was well grounded to begin with would never get involved in such an undertaking. For starters,it would break the cardinal rule of well groundedness by giving the son an exagerated idea of his importance in the scheme of things!

It's mostly families with nothing to lose and everything to gain who embark on such risky enterprises and throw on the shoulders of their offspring the incredible burden of carrying that deadweight. What comes to mind are the sad stories of many,many sports celebrities whose childhood was mortgaged to lifting their families out of mediocrity and supporting the lifestyle to which they soon became accustomed. True,some of these sports stars came out at the end with more money in the bank than they otherwise would have if everyone had simply stayed home.One has to ask,does that justify everything?

Posted by Rosangel 10/23/2008 at 06:22 AM

Tuulia: it's possibly the Catalan "Vamos Rafel" that Toni usually shouts (I almost said so when I drafted the original post), but when it's shouted out quickly, it's not that easy, especially for a non-native, to distinguish whether there's an extra syllable or not. Certainly if he's shouting "Rafael" the second syllable is very brief.

Posted by Nicole Phillips 10/23/2008 at 06:35 AM

I met Uncle Toni and Rafa briefly at Wimbledon this year... Toni is a wonderful person and has helped to make Rafa the champion that he is; both on and off the court.

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 06:41 AM

ROSANGEL: are you there? I posted a reply to your question about the legal situation of Tío Tony's children's names.

I want to say that the idea of a soap opera is the most brilliant thing ever put forward on this page!! You are my heroine. Can I be in on the fun? I don't care about the credit titles or anything. I just want to contribute to the storyline and help flesh out the characters. I also offer my services as consultant and translator. Hell,I'll be water-boy!

Posted by 10/23/2008 at 06:48 AM

Rafael Nadal brings a renewed excitement to the sport of tennis. I like his "charisma" and the way he tries 100% on every point. I haven't read the article yet. I just think that perhaps the family can somehow get Rafa to stop the tugging at his pants after every point. I cringe when I see him doing that constantly in front of millions of viewers. Maybe little kids do this, but not grown men who are 23 years old. The parents should have stopped this when he was a young kid, now it's probably so ingrained in him, he will need professional help to stop.

Posted by Danish 10/23/2008 at 07:09 AM

Great interview! Vamos Rafa ! <3

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:16 AM


the Nadal's are a typical very ordinary family of mind boggling "normality" with no fancy frills. When Rafa burps at the family table his mother probably winces and tells him that he's disgusting and his sister probably seconds her. I bet my last euro that they probably rag him all the time about that bad habit he has on court and that they beg him to do something about it.Maybe he really can't. Maybe he has a chronic anal fissure. How do we know? It's rather tasteless to go on and on about it.

Yes, It's a disgusting thing to see. But,bad as it is, I will say this for Rafa, he has never called attention in public to any player's nasty habits(and there are plenty that come to mind). Which is worse? The nervous tugging at the back seam of his shorts when he is under extreme pressure or the rather rude comment made at a public presser recently by a young Argentine player that ridiculed Rafa for doing that?

When questioned about that comment ,Rafa laughed heartily at himself for being the cause of the remark but then ruefully and sort of wistfully added, "It's actually a pretty funny remark but my Tío Tony and the code my family have taught me wouldn't allow me to make that kind of remark about anybody."

Posted by biel 10/23/2008 at 07:17 AM

[by malimeda 10/22/2008 @ 10:08 PM

"Manacor", Episode One:

El Numero Uno arrives at Pro-Am golf tourney in a chopper. He's matured somewhat, the other participants whisper surprised - see how he has stopped using those childish fuzzy animal-shaped club-head covers:

Little Numero Uno can hit a drive:

and a putt: ]

El Numero 1 plays off a 9.6 handicap and he and his team (Sergio Garcia, Banesto bank chairperson Ana Patricia Botin (Seve's sister-in-law) and a prominent bullfighter)actually won the ProAm yesterday in Castellon (on the Spanish mainland right next to the Balearic Islands)with a combined score of 54. Nadal almost didn't get there as the weather in Mallorca was so bad that their (his uncles Toni and Miguel Angel also took part in the competition)very short helicopter taxi flight over had to be delayed till conditions cleared. His team finally teed off 90 minutes later than planned.

Great post, Pete! I imagine that you and El Jon probably did your pre-interview homework by reading the many interviews of his that have been translated into English from the Spanish press for the forums at (mostly by their translator nou.amic if others want to look them up). Toni Nadal is undoubtedly a one-off, a 'special' man with a 'special' way of thinking, as his nephew Rafael usually describes him. What makes me smile about him is that while he acknowledges that the mental aspect of sport is what he is best at coaching, he always says he doesn't believe in sports psychologists! Hail he's the best one ever!

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:18 AM

Oh ROSANGEL: you are not there..(SIGHS...)

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:25 AM

BIEL. The first episode gets off to a start at a golf course?!!! Rfa arrives in a helicopter??!!

No way....

Cut to the open sea...mediterranean sunset. A man out alone on his boat. Camera zooms'''s... a mature middle aged man looking dreamily out to sea while he hauls in his catch of the day... of course, It's rafa and as he gazes ,mesmerized at the waves or at the fish or at something...he starts to recollect his days of GLORY as El Numero Uno...Theme Music Crashes in here...

Posted by Annie Keegan 10/23/2008 at 07:26 AM

now we have an inkling of why rafa is so grounded and down to earth. as for his butt tugging, i think it is another of his compulsive behaviors (like the water bottles, and not walking behind the umpires chair). If he has OCD then these are not merely habits but compulsions and are much harder to break. otherwise toni would have just told him to stop and he would stop. rafa has admitted it's a habit he's trying to break. i, too, think he should get checked out by a doctor to make sure it's not a physical issue. but, to be honest, i'm so used to seeing him do it that it doesn't bother me in the least anymore. it's kind of endearing in a way.j
has anyone else noticed that rafa does not seem so happy in interviews these days? like he's getting bored of answering the same dumb questions? i hope he's not getting burned out. i also read on a celebrity site something about his parents getting divorced. has anyone else read about this? is there any truth to it? if so, that would explain why he doesn't seem his usual happy self.

Posted by biel 10/23/2008 at 07:42 AM

The Nadal/Parera divorce rumour was just that, a rumour with no foundation.

BTW, gabriela, the Manacor saga is nothing to do with me, I merely quoted another's post on golf.:)

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:42 AM

Annie keegan: I wouldn't go as far as to say that the habit was "endearing" but the honest truth is that it doesn't bother me at all. Like you I've gotten used to it. The way some people go on and on and on about it acyually has started to bother me more.

As Tony would tell him if he were ever to complain about having to answer the same idiotic questions for the umpteenth time"Well,Rafael,you can always go down a mine shaft and earn an honest living with a pickaxe.... Nobody will be waiting up at the top when you come out to ask you dumb questions..."

I hadn't seen about the divorce but then I do not usually read about celebrities. I would wait and see before writing about that...

I hadn't noticed that he was unhappier either. No one is happy 24 hrs of the day,7 out of 7 - only a fool or a puppy dog. He's bound to appear happier or out of sorts...I wouldn't worry about it.

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:45 AM

BIEL: I realised that afterwards! I saw that you had pulled down a quote from malimeda.

I'm glad you're confident enough in your source of information to scotch the divorce rumour. I hadn't even heard it and it took me by surprise.

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 07:55 AM

Thanks for replying Rosangel. So I'll hold onto my belief that it's probably "Rafel" unless otherwise proven. :-)

And Gabriela, the diminutive is Rafelet, isn't it, since the name is Rafel (Rafalet mixes Spanish and Catalan diminutives, doesn't it?). I know both appeared once in the book, but one of them must have been a typo. :) I asked from a Spanish person earlier and she explained the version with "e" is the correct one. So the version with "a" adds a local diminutive ending to an already diminutive form of the name in Spanish - right? Or...? As for possibly using "Rafael" in a match situation is exactly what I meant by situation specific use. :) I know he uses "Rafael" in interviews in languages other than his own (I always hesitate whether to say Mallorcan/mallorquí or Catalan here... on one hand... but then again... oh damn...), which makes sense since that's the name by which the kid is known all over the world. It can vaguely make sense also in a match situation, tho I still find it strange IF that would be the case, since he'd be shouting support to his nephew alone. Oh and you used Mallorcan diminutive of my name (even if without meaning to)? That's fine by me. ;)

The discussion above is extremely interesting, and I've only read about half of it so far... back tomorrow - probably to find lots more to read, oh my...

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 07:58 AM

Tuulia: you're correct. It is Rafelet. The other sounds awful(a mix of Castellano and Mallorquí)

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 07:59 AM

PS to Gabriela: "tuulet" means "winds" in Finnish. Hmmm. :)

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 08:04 AM

are you Finnish? fascinating language!!

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 08:23 AM

Yes, I'm a Finn. I'm fascinated by Spanish myself. :) (and lots of other languages)

Posted by Tuulia 10/23/2008 at 08:24 AM

English is fascinating, too.

Really gotta go now, back tomorrow I hope.

Posted by 10/23/2008 at 08:27 AM

For most bilinguals, mixing languages is a no-no, so as 'Vamos' is Spanish, it is natural and logical to follow it with 'Rafael'.. If he wanted to encourage him in Catalan, Toni would no doubt shout "Au Rafel!" ...

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 08:31 AM

is Finnish like Hungarian? or have you made good on your promise to leave us high and dry? Bye!!!

Posted by Rosangel 10/23/2008 at 08:39 AM

Thanks for the clarifications on the legal naming situation, Gabriela, sic and Ogolon.

Sorry not to be on the board for a couple of hours. Fans of "Manacor" will be pleased to know that I am in the process of securing Antonio Banderas to play the role of Miquel Angel, and in a nod to the original "Dallas" (plus the sensibilities oif Sherlock and Matt Zemek) we are trying to bring in Victoria Principal to play the role of the rather Hott Ana Maria Parera, aka El Numero Uno's mother.

Recruiting anyone that can even begin to fake the Rear Admirables is a dicey proposition, but we're working on it. Oh, and from what what I understand, Feli has played a TV role or so in the past, and might not be averse to appearing as himself.

No word yet on who might play Emilio Botin. Ana Patricia's all-powerful father, but the Botin family are probably too interesting to leave out (I have actually met Ana Patricia, in my "real life"). By the way, I figure that El Numero Uno's "City Girl" comes from Madrid.

Posted by Gabriela Valentina 10/23/2008 at 08:56 AM

ROSANGEL: work in the BOTIN family by all means but the girl from the city that would really steam up the family is a girl from the tennis courts (and if she's foreign then the sparks will fly). To islanders like the Nadals anyone off the island is a foreigner but if she's not even Spanish that?s a real big threat to the whole family emporium. That way Rafa would have to have scenes with her in english and that would be adorable. All those questions he would ask her and then immediately answer himself,No?

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