Rafa Roundup: Have You Ever Met Rafa on a Plane? This Fan Did!

AP Photo/Vincent Thian
AP Photo/Vincent Thian


10 wins in a row. Two sets dropped. Back-to-back titles.

Who ever truly doubted Rafael Nadal?

The Spaniard’s comeback gained further pace in Barcelona, where he won ten straight sets to reclaim his crown from Kei Nishikori, who had won the previous two tournaments in Catalonia.

His latest triumph puts him level with Guillermo Vilas on 49 clay court titles, and it seems increasingly probable that he will make it to 50 before the last ball has been hit in anger at Roland Garros.

Nadal’s 6-4, 7-5 win over Kei Nishikori on Sunday gave him nine titles in Barcelona, which matched the ninth title he just won in Monte Carlo. Those are both records as well, but for Nadal the last two weeks have been less about the numbers he’s putting up, and more about the opponents he’s been putting them up against. If the last two years have been about Rafa losing to people he had never lost to before, and who you could never imagine him losing to before, the clay season so far has been about him turning the tables back around on his competition.

So in the space of a week, Nadal has once more catapulted himself into the reckoning not just for the other two clay Masters in the coming fortnight but for that 10th French Open title that slipped from his grasp in the face of Novak Djokovic last year. Now that would be some way to celebrate his 30th birthday.

It’s the ninth time Nadal has won Barcelona and the eighth time he followed up a Monte Carlo title with Barcelona. Seven of those eight  “doubles” (2005-08, 11-12) were the forerunners to the French Open title.

Of his 49 career clay-court titles, 27 have been scored at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Paris. Throw in seven more at Rome and that’s four tournaments producing 34 titles. It’s domination on its own pedestal.

Imagine the clay king as playing the role of spoiler to King Novak’s destined march to his long-overdue entitlement to the French Open throne.

Suppose Nadal continues to strengthen at Madrid or Rome. What if he has the belief he will be at his very best on clay—a surface where Djokovic must be keeping one eye on the demons he has incarcerated somewhere near the changeover, hoping they will not escape and force him to the other side.

“I start walking toward the front of the plane, look to my right, and there he is. I go over to him. He is sitting in a row of three on the aisle, with his girlfriend in the middle seat. Nobody is at the window seat. I wanted to play it that there was a bathroom at the front of the plane and then on the way back to my seat I would say, “Oh my God, hello!’  So that is basically what I did. I said, ‘Oh my God, I am a huge fan and I am coming this weekend to Monte Carlo to see you play, I have seen you play at Indian Wells and the U.S. Open.’

”He was very nice and I took a couple of selfies with him and my friend got a picture with him also, and then took a picture of Rafa with me kind of sitting on the floor next to him. I told him that I was studying in Barcelona and that I loved Spain and mentioned I was trying to get to Mallorca, which was actually funny because I did get there a weekend later. He was really nice. I was speaking very quietly and we were kind of whispering, but at this point nobody realized Rafa was on the flight. He said he was happy to hear I was studying in Spain and said he was honored that I was coming to the tournament. His girlfriend was kind of wanting me to leave, but he was great. We spoke for about ten minutes.”

VIDEO: Nadal Reflects On Career Moments | ATP World Tour


  1. Of course, we are over the moon for Rafa, muy feliz para Rafa, winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona I thanked him in Spanish for giving us so much pleasure. The dip in the pool, la piscina is always good. Let s hope it continues, the stadium decorated with his name in Barcelona is smart, next Madrid, Roma, I have my tickets for Roland Garros. Fiona in Paris

  2. Rafa’s humble attitude and lovely demeanor is what makes him one of the most likable tennis players in the history of the sport. America has Andre Agassi for this and Spain and all the world has Rafa! Two beautiful souls of tennis who share the title of the only men in tennis to possess Golden Career slams. Vamos Rafa and good luck in Madrid!

  3. Wow that would be every fan’s dream! What a great Champ and so down to earth…. No private planes for Rafa! Vamos Rafa!

  4. I ve never met Rafa on a plane and I never will coz am from Nairobi n poor so will never be on a plane bt will always be a Rafa fan till I die, was so happy wen he started this year with a win n l knew this gonna be his year, the king is back!!bt if he ever visits the maasai mara, l’ll be there to see him, VAMOS RAFA!!!

  5. Unfortunately no, but gee I wish. – Saw Rafa in DK last year, and that was a dream come true 😍 To also speak with him – that would be like unbelievable WAUW! ❤️😃
    VAMOS sweet Rafa and all the very best 🎾💪😊😘

  6. No I have never been on a flight that had Rafa on itBut Gee Whiz I wish i could meet the wonderful young man he will never know this but I have adopted him as my Grandson. just love him All the very best Rafa in your next match schedule Vamos Rafa

  7. I would be very very very happy to meet Rafa!!! That’s my dream..i hope one day to meet him and say how much inspiration he gives to me and how much i love being his fan 🙂 Started learning Spanish because of Rafa 🙂 Love it 🙂 And oh love you Rafa 🙂 “His girlfriend was kind of wanting me to leave”))) I think Xiska is a good person just she maybe was afraid that all who were on the plane would photograph them and etc) We know she really doesn’t like fame and paparazzi. We should understand her..
    Oh, i forgot to say….VAMOS, RAFA!!!! 🙂

      • Yes… Sorry 🙂 It was just my suggestion and of course you are right 🙂

    • Sorry if yes doesn’t like “the fame” she’s with the wrong guy he’s a world famous athlete and will always draw attention

      • Yeah :)) Everyone would be happy to take autograph or take a photo with Rafa :)) And speak to him 🙂 Just i read several times that she doesn’t want to be a part of “famous people world”) But Rafa and Xiska such a very cute couple 🙂 Oh and i’m so looking forward to the moment Rafa will propose a marriage to her 🙂 That will be great!!! 🙂


    Again, you fail to mention the author of the original article, Steve Fink, a columnist for Tennis Channel. Nor do you provide a link to his excellent and lengthy article. The fan who created such great fodder for Mr. Fink’s article is Ruthie Freilich.

    • Dear Margo, we posted his name and above is link for whole article.

      I have no idea where did you come from on our website, but you should know that Rafa Roundup presents summary of Rafa daily news, photos and videos so for all articles each time there is a link so you can read more if you are interested and all fans know it.

      This is the last time that you are accusing me for something you didn’t understand. I have warned you.

    • Margo the Nutty Fruitcake! Forgot again to take your meds??? You need to chill out fruitcake, and if you don’t understand how the site works, go away, so play in the traffic O_O

  9. I have known Rafa always to be gracious. On some occasions during an interview when he is asked a stupid question he has turned it into a funny reply. He is not only an athlete, he is an intelligent athlete. Gotta love the guy!


  10. That’s a lovely fan moment on the airplane ….. very nice photo as well. I enjoyed reading about it very much!!!! : ) VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) Enjoy everything & point by point ALL courts are yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) KUDOS SWEETHEART!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) It is AMAZING & a testimony of your BEAUTIFUL TENNIS that with all the difficult draws, match timing, and an umpire w unfriendly bias tendencies covering your very first & last FINAL matches in Barcelona, you are naturally prevailing and prevailing brilliantly due to your FANTASTIC STRONG TOP TENNIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) 😉 : ) ci….ci….ci….ci….. VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) It has been such a treat to see you gliding and sliding and reaching and making fantastic RETURNS & powerful SHOTS AND SERVING SO WELL & moving fast with an ENDURANCE SO BRIGHT & STRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) 🙂 ….. If you review some of your matches you can clearly see how your opponents are tired with in the end of first set, and 2nd set, due to your powerful hammering and fast relentless strong returns….. YOUR GAME IS SO SPECIAL . I wish there was a large barometer right there at the court to notify you that : “yep…this one is tired now…. time to close in right away…..: ) ” At the end, you find your way to command and that is the most important part of your well earned victories.
    Your approaching 30th birthday is already well celebrated with your current on going fantastic play, and any further trophies will be simply adding to your blessed special celebration. My birthday is 3 days after yours,and so I always cherish your wins as mini gifts : )
    VAMOS SWEETHEART & have lots of fun enjoying your nice break!!!!!!!!!!! : )

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