His mind was in Spain where his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, was in the hospital after an operation.
Rafael Nadal is perhaps the best tennis player in history. His family is his driving force. An example on and off the court, he has nothing left to prove, but after each match he continues to give lessons.
He did so most recently this past September 6, when he lost in the round of 16 of the US Open against Tiafoe. Once again, his family became the protagonist as the driving force and center of his life. The tennis player was only thinking about his first child, due to be born in a few months. “Right now what I have to do is go back home,” he said at the post-match press conference.
Injuries have haunted Nadal for years, and as he has stated on many occasions, “I don’t know what it’s like to play without pain.” His foot problems have forced him to play his last few games with his foot medicated and anesthetized. Rib and abdominal problems have accompanied him this year.
Despite this, he won the Australian Open and the Roland Garros, as well as the Melbourne and Acapulco tournaments. He couldn’t win Wimbledon because he had to withdraw in the semifinals due to a quarter-inch tear in the rectus abdominis muscle that prevented him from serving.
The press has been speculating for months about his possible retirement. But Nadal endures; he gets back on track after each tournament and continues. However, he clearly says that what will determine his return after the defeat in the U.S. will be his family and his impending fatherhood:
“I have much more important things to attend to than tennis (…) I don’t know when I’m going to come back. I’m going to try to be ready mentally. When I feel like I’m ready to compete again, I’ll be there.”
His marriage, his main support
Rafa explained that there are more important things than tennis, and that’s what concerns him now above all else. His mind was in Spain where his wife, Mery Perelló, who is pregnant with their first child, was in the hospital after undergoing a minor operation on medical advice. Everything went well and it was the tennis player himself who confirmed the success of the intervention.
His most important challenge
In a few weeks, the Spaniard will face the most important challenge of his life – the birth of his son – and that is what now occupies all his mind. “On a personal level, I have to finish something that is important in my life: having my first child and trusting that everything will go well.”
Jealous of his privacy
Nadal has never given explanations about his private life. However, he does give lessons about family and love for those dear to him, who always accompany him to the tournaments. It’s common to see his parents, his uncle (who was his trainer for years), his sister, and his wife in the stands. They follow him wherever he plays to support him and show him their affection.
“As you know, I don’t usually talk about my personal life because I think that I’m already exposed enough in my professional life,” he said, but in response to photographs of his pregnant wife he confirmed that “if everything goes well, I’m going to be a father” – an announcement he made when his wife was already five months pregnant.
An example for all
At 36 years of age and counted among the elite of world sports, Rafa could not be more simple and loyal and a true friend of his friends. He does not hesitate to help others, something he takes very seriously and puts into practice through his foundation that collaborates with numerous educational, sports, and solidarity projects around the world. But his goal is now at home, with Mery Perelló and their baby. “We want to live in a peaceful way. I don’t know how it will change my life. I don’t think it will change my professional life,” he says.