ELLE.com chatted with Rafa Nadal about passion, his rival Novak Djokovic, and his infamous pre-game rituals.
Provenance: Majorca, Spain
Relationship status: Taken (by longtime girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello)
On passion: I am a guy who likes to do what I am doing with passion, whether it’s a soccer match with friends or golf.
On table tennis: I’m very bad.
On his soft spot for musicals: Every year I go to Broadway to see a musical — I like the music. I saw Mamma Mia; I saw Les Misérables; I saw Phantom of the Opera like six, seven times.
On his pre-game playlist: I normally listen to Spanish music — well, Latin music. I like a lot of singers… it’s very difficult for me to pick one.
On his intricate pre-game rituals: I think when you compete every week, when you play under pressure daily, you find your rituals to be 100 percent focused on what you’re doing. Most of the things are very stupid things, but it helps the way that I focus.
On whether long hair or short hair is a better good luck charm: I’m able to play very bad with both of them, and I’m able to play well with both of them.
On whether he has off-the-court rituals: No, no way. It’s just on the court.
On Novak Djokovic doing impressions of his rituals: I think it is not a problem. Everything is part of the show, and Djokovic is a good showman. I know he is not doing it in a bad way, he’s doing it in a positive way, and that’s great.
On his New York love affair: It’s strange — I have visited a lot of cities in the world, but I don’t know much about a lot of the cities because I don’t have the chance to visit when I am playing a tennis tournament. But here in New York, I know the city very well. New York is a special place; it’s a city that I love. I have been here a lot of times in the last 10 years: Every time I had the chance to play in New York, I’ve spent more than two weeks. And I spent holidays here a long time ago, before I started to be a professional tennis player.
On how he’s preparing for US Open: Just like every tournament — trying to be in the place a few days in advance, try to play in every practice with the right attitude, try to the adapt yourself to the conditions. I arrived here Monday, I started to practice on Wednesday, so hopefully every day I’m going to feel a little bit better, a little more adapted… I hope to be very competitive for the first day.