Apr 22, 2012

Book: RAFA – My Story

Author: Rafael Nadal with John Carlin

Many times I watched Rafa, one of my few favorite players, speaking in English after presented with the championship trophies during grand slam finals. With that, I’m damn sure of the great influence of the second author on the way the content is written, in English, in this book. But the content itself would be obviously the own property of Rafa himself.

Sportive spirit is what I’ve been observing in Nadal since long, not just when we win but also when he lose. This book has given more insight into the making of this attitude of him. Every line written in this book on opponents or contemporary rivals splashed a sense of respect with zero controversial statements.

Lives of sports men are the most influenced by their families and earlier coaches. In Nadal’s case, his big family has been his backbone. His first and the only coach so far, his uncle Tony Nadal, has his mark on especially the ‘endurance’ he shows at critical points of the matches.

The younger Rafael, who bowed his head and did all that his coach wanted him to do from collecting balls to cleaning the courts, played his matches the way it was instructed by his coach, attended the punishing schedule without a complaint, reiterate the importance of discipline and love towards the game to build a career off it. Tony Nadal used to ask Rafa’s family to keep the celebrations simple after he won the tournaments as a boy in his teenage. Celebrations and boasting often have badly influenced the players, especially of younger age. Fortunately, with the presence of his coach as one of his family members, for Rafa it was not the factor anymore.

“Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sport played at the professional level is not good for your health”

It’s rightly quoted in the book. Professional level play demands a healthy and active body always. With the long running rallies and matches running into five sets, Tennis at times makes your muzzles go dead. Fitness is often the most anticipated. To maintain it, you need a team, a good physical trainer of course. Rafa’s team has been his best asset in this regard. They all have mingled as if they were just family too. Rafa, in return also shows the same love and respect towards them by treating them less as his appointees and more as his friends. Their hard work was the reason behind Nadal coming back to the professional game after being hit by a career threatening injury.

The authors have given a try not to let the superstition remain as a superstition on Nadal setting his bottles in angel. But somehow, it didn’t convince me. I often heard, sports men have lot of superstitions. Maybe, the pressure levels are high and no surprise if they end us choosing few of their own.

“The higher you are, the greater your duty to treat people with respect” – another quote from book and I agree to it.

Playing games is about reading the strategies of opponents and winning games is about reading the mind frames of opponents. Given a pressure situation, most players act human and that’s when the mind readers cash in. In the individual games like tennis, being strong minded is even more important.

“People connect more with the battling underdog than with the effortlessly superior performer, because the battling underdog is more recognizably human; more people see themselves in the flawed Nadal than in the Olympian Federer”

The above lines from the book are the true reflection of what I could not frame in words since long on why I chose Rafa to Roger. Hats off to the writer. Loved it.

I wonder how we sit back miles away, oceans separated, and expect our favorite players win every match they play, without knowing a bit of what’s going on in their personal lives. After all, they too are human and have impacts of family reasons. In Nadal’s case, the separation of his parents impacted more than expected, both his body and mind and in turn his game too. This book has made me take back some of the cursing I’d given him during his down turn in 2009-10. Now I know how to react for such situations in future.

Finally I would like to mention about the Rafa’s girl friend. She is such a nice one for him that he is lucky to have got the most suitable one. A steady relationship with his girl friend has undoubtedly made him concentrate more on courts. With no break ups as yet, the couple looks so cute. The higher you are, not just the greater your duty to treat people with respect but also greater your responsibility to maintain your relationships inspiringly. As people look at you and want to take inspiration from you, you need to be as perfect as possible with less room to be wrong. I admire Rafa and his girl for their successful run. I would like to wish the couple long life together.

Well, this book has made me know more about the game, the practice, the fitness sessions, the team work and the hectic schedules. Taking inspiration from sports is what I love the most and I feel for me the easiest way. I would like to wish Rafa more successes in the years to come.

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