Hear first-hand stories about Rafael Nadal's approach to tennis and his mental toughness and attitude that makes him one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Coach: Chris Haggard, former world no.19 doubles. Won 7 ATP titles.
Bio: Turned pro in 1993. Spent 15 years on the ATP Tour. Excelled at doubles to reach career-high #19 ranking. Stayed in Top 50 for over a decade. Won 7 ATP titles. Reached SF Australian Open and QF of both US Open and Wimbledon. Career wins over Bryan Brothers, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Leander Paes, Pat Rafter, Leyton Hewitt, and Marat Safin.
Birthplace: South Africa
Length: 3 min 2 sec
Talking about mental toughness. The first person that comes to mind is Rafael Nadal.
I just wanted to share a few stories about him that (that) I experienced personally. You know, I was playing on tour for 15 years, I was blessed to play the sport professionally, and I got to be around him. And, I got to play against him actually, the same year in the Australian Open, and in the US Open. I did not win but it was a great experience. And, I got to feel that mental toughness on the other side of the court. It wasn't arrogant confidence that I felt was just this person that I was playing against had this attitude about him that was just incredible. I just felt like he was passionate and he was ready, and he would do anything to beat you. And, not with the shots but with his mind.
So, after that, I got to know him a little bit. And, I remember after the Australian Open the one year there was a tournament in Holland. And, it was the week after and I think he had to play, it was under his contract. I think it just won the Australian Open. And it's a Sunday evening and I had dinner and I (and I) walk past the gym and it's like 10 o'clock at night and there I see him with his trainer doing exercises and like wow, you know, this guy's just won Australian Open. And, it's maybe three days later and he's training with (with) his trainer in the gym and that, you know, that did something to me was like, wow, this is (this is) amazing. And I'll never forget that.
Another story I want to share is that one year a friend of mine, he lost his ranking and you know, he was injured for a long time and he was trying to make a comeback. He knew Rafael pretty well. And he asked him to play doubles of them at Queen's and Nadal said yes, he'll play with him. And, anyway, turns out that you know, Queens is the week after the Roland Garros so Rafa Nadal wins the French Open. And my friend is you know, he's (he's) thinking while you know is Rafa going to pull out of the doubles. Maybe he doesn't even remember that we supposed to play doubles. And straight off to the finals. Rafa Nadal calls him and says: "Hey, did you sign us up for doubles?" And, he's like, Okay, I will. And he's like, and don't forget to sign us up for practice courts, Monday at three for two hours. I mean, that just right there that just shows you that this guy is he's just won a Grand Slam title, that he still has that attitude of you know, I'm playing a tournament next week. And he's still thought about my friend and playing the doubles, which really, you know, that says a lot about his character.
So, fast forward a day later, my friend was telling me that they were practicing. And Nadal was practicing as hard as he could on the grass. And, he was actually asking my friend, hey, you know, if you want to give me some advice and when to move on your serve. And I mean, this is a guy that's just won a Grand Slam. You know, he's number one in the world. And he's asking advice for a friend of mine that's lost his ranking on some tips and doubles and that just shows you right there. What attitude can do for you, you know, attitude and being humble. How you can use that in every day in your (in your) tennis career. So, let's take a leaf out of Rafa's book and work on our attitude and being humble out there.