Tennis greats flocked to the Lotte New York Palace for a friendly game of badminton last week. While there, we chatted with the 18-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal about his preparation for the US Open and his most iconic matches with rival Roger Federer.
Talk to me about your preparation for the US Open and what you do to get yourself acclimated for a Grand Slam. RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, I do the same as always. I just try to be here with plenty of time to adapt myself to the conditions, to the ball, to the court, to the weather and stay present. So, I’m just trying to put myself in a position to become competitive from the very beginning.
What does a morning of training look like? RN: I do my normal stuff. I practice in morning or the morning and afternoon, and then, of course, I have to do my workout and see my physical therapist. Then, I have to do my workout, and focus on injury prevention.
You’ve played everyone from Agassi to Federer to Djokovic, but is there anyone you find most complimentary to your tennis style? RN: I don’t know. I enjoyed playing and competing with all the great players that I have been playing for the last 17 years. Honestly, I’ve had fun playing against different kinds of players, different kinds of styles and different kinds of mentalities. Of course, I enjoyed the process of trying to stay competitive throughout it all. The first time that I was in the top position of the rankings was in 2005. So all these years later I'm trying to maintain the level of play I had then, find goals in different phases and continue to achieve things through all these years, which has been a process that sometimes was hard, but most of the time has been very unique in tennis. I have had a lot of injuries in my career, so I have always had to find a way to survive despite the physical problems that I've had.
Everyone loves when you play Federer and the greats, and I imagine those matches must be tense, no? Perhaps we'll see you in the finals competing together again... RN: I really enjoy going on court and seeing the full crowd. Of course, when you play semi-finals or finals, big events against Novak, Roger or Andy, or any top player, the emotions are always a little bit higher. We have been competing against each other for such a very long time. It’s something that never happened in the past. That creates interest when we face each other.