Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly one of the strongest players of all ages, even if the Spanish phenomenon is known for his great humility and modesty off the pitch. The former world number 1 recently won Roland Garros for the 13th time in his career, the fourth without losing a single set.
By smashing a helpless Novak Djokovic in the final, the 34-year-old Majorcan equaled Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slams and reignited the eternal GOAT debate. Over the past few years, many fans and insiders have wondered if Nadal's extraordinary intensity doesn't extend to his relationship with colleagues.
Indeed, some believe that his concentration rituals can create an intimidating atmosphere in the locker room, prompting other players to move away. In a very long interview with Aldo Cazzullo for Corriere della Sera, the 20-time Grand Slam champion denied this hypothesis, claiming to be very calm in everyday life.
Nadal denies that he intimidates other players
“I'm not shouting in the locker room! I take an ice cold shower, listen to the music in my headphones and, yes, I tie the bandana. But I have never allowed myself to intimidate an opponent," Rafael Nadal said.
Rafael Nadal's friendly nature off the court was also recently corroborated by Piotr Sierzputowski, the coach of reigning women's French Open champion Iga Swiatek. "He's a great, well-mannered guy who always says hello, winks at you, smiles at you.
He is never rude," Sierzputowski said. "Rafa plays board games with his team, sits with other players, and eats the same thing as everyone else." Besides his attitude off the court, Rafael Nadal has also sometimes been seen giving cold handshakes to his opponents following a loss.
“Sometimes I do. It's rare and it's normal, we are not here to applaud each other. It's up to the public to decide," Nadal said. Nadal has already guaranteed his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. He has qualified for the season finale in a record 16 consecutive seasons.
“It’s part of the history of our game. It’s an important event and is a party of the best players of the season,” Nadal said. “London has been a big success, I think. We enjoyed a lot playing in The O2.
It has been a great atmosphere, great crowd. And moving to Turin, I'm sure that will be another success because the Italian fans are at heart enthusiastic”. For now, Nadal isn’t thinking ahead or worrying about his previous results at Paris-Bercy.
He is focussed on trying to capture his first Rolex Paris Masters title. “When I go to a tournament, I just focus on trying to play my best tennis,” Nadal said. “It's true that we are in different circumstances than previous years… But I am here to play my best”.