Rafa Roundup: “Nadal is not just a gladiator on the court – he’s a philosopher at heart”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“My nephew is my nephew”, the Spaniard told ATPTour.com on Friday in Paris. “I told Felix that when he asked me to work with him. I want Rafael to win. If he were to lose, it would be a less painful loss because the player I work with would win, but I don’t like to deceive anyone; I’m Rafael’s uncle and he’s more than just a distant nephew. If Felix played against my son… I wouldn’t want him to win. This is the same.”

“I’m not going to go and watch the match,” said Toni. “I’ll watch it on television. I’m not going to sit in a box. If they give me a standard ticket, maybe I’ll go and watch,” he added. “I’ve told Felix’s coach that tomorrow [Saturday] I’ll be at the training session, but I won’t on Sunday. I don’t want to know what he tells him so that I’m not tempted to tell Rafael, whom, of course, I won’t be telling any tactics either,” he remarked.

Still, as FAA says, we all know that Rafa is in another class. The Spaniard won their only meeting, in two sets in Madrid in 2019. Auger-Aliassime says he’s a different player now, and that’s true. His serve is a big weapon, his return has improved, and he does a better job of moving around his backhand to hit as many forehands as he can.

But therein lies the problem for him in this matchup: Rafa’s lefty serve and forehand are tough to run around, which means FAA will probably have to hit more backhands than he wants. Advantage Rafa. Winner: Nadal

Sports, it’s been said, reveals character. It also reveals something else: philosophy.

There’s no better example of this than Rafael Nadal, the 35-year-old professional tennis player who’s competing this week at the French Open. Nadal is not just a gladiator on the court — he’s a philosopher at heart.

But it is Nadal’s mind that may separate him from his greatest rivals. His ability to play with physical pain, to come back from devastating injuries, to problem-solve during a match — all are part of his greatness. So is his attitude — his visceral delight in competing, whether he wins or loses.

Whatever happens at this French Open, one outcome is certain. Win or lose, Nadal will react not just as an athlete but as a philosopher — with humility, temperance, and as someone who “enjoys the suffering” that comes with every noble pursuit of excellence.

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  1. Whatever the label, gladiator/philosopher-Rafael Nadal is in another echelon from most players. His
    approach, philosophy, has helped him achieve incomparable results. He deserves every accolade.
    There is still such enduring love, respect, and fire for tennis-he is a phenomenon❤️‍🔥🙏

  2. Rafa Survives in 5 tough sets. What a fight shown by Toni’s new pupil…. Vamos Rafa
    Please improve your game to beat Djoker
    You know you can and we know for sure only you can…. Congratulations Rafans

    • I think he needed this kind of Match before facing novak because now he knows the level he needs to be at to beat Novak . Novak is playing really well so it’s going to tough anyway

  3. Rafa you are the champ! Stand firm on your service games and you will get a chance soon enough. Steady on champ!

  4. Rafa has to find more length on his shots. A lot of them are just reaching the service line, allowing Felix to tee off. Come Rafa dig in!!!

  5. I am not enjoying this at all. Of course Rafa isn’t trying to avoid Djokovic. Felix is just playing very well – give him some credit. Hopefully Rafa will come through in 5.

    • Yes, Felix is serving better and getting greater length on his shots, whereas Rafa isn’t getting enough first serves in and dropping the balls short too often.

  6. Rafa goes to a 5th set!

    It’s all or nothing now champ, you’ve won this tournament 13 times. Let your experience see you through.

    You can do this champ! Get it done!

  7. Rafa is trying to avoid playing Djokovic hence the uncharacteristic errors.

  8. Terrible start from Rafa going 1-5 down in the first set.

    Come on champ! Get your match going!

    • Yes Mac. I agree. But I sat through 5 and a half hours of the AO final and I’m not giving up as we all know what happened there. Cmon Rafa. Vamos!!!

  9. Love you Rafa and have loved you ever since I first saw you – many moons ago. You caught my eye and heart immediately.

    I send only positive thoughts and vibrations into the universe and of course prayers.

    You’re the best in every way – a wonderful, superlative human being!!!

    All the best!!!

  10. I don’t think it’s possible to love a human I’ve never met more than I do Rafa. I’ve watched him since his first match as a pro because he “caught my eye.” His ability on the court is only PART of why a we grow to love this man. He is such a good person. I pray he loves Jesus because I want to meet him in Heaven. That’s the ONE PLACE his good character alone can’t get him into. Regardless, I love watching him more than any other sport, player, show. Because he is A GOOD MAN, INCREDIBLE SPORTSMAN, and an OFF THE CHARTS TENNIS PLAYER! VAMOS RAFA!

    • You took my words right out of my mouth. I also pray for him nightly that he believes ib Jesus.

  11. I have been your fan now for 20 years and l am at the grand age of 75 l feel like l now you have read lots of books about you too you have made my life much happier 😊 and l thank you so much for being in my life vamos rafa hope your match goes well today

    • Here here I’m 75 too Rafa is my hero because he not only is a warrior but is also a gentleman.

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