I’ve talked about this before: Rafael Nadal is not only an amazing tennis player, but he is an interesting person as well. I just ran across this headline in the Guardian, “‘I would love Andy Murray to win a grand slam,’ admits Rafael Nadal”
Murray is the young Scot who carries the weight of the Empire, particularly at Wimbledon.
If it was not for his 10 grand slam titles and 36 other tournament victories, it would be hard to associate the Nadal who is courteous and who loves family life with the one who tears opponents apart on the court. On Friday he knows a whole country will be willing Murray to victory. And if Nadal was in the crowd instead of on the other side of the court, he would be leading the cheers.
“If I have to say one player who I want to win a grand slam, if it’s not me, I would say it’s Andy,” Nadal says. “He deserves it. [Novak] Djokovic has already won a lot of things this year, [Juan Martín] Del Potro has won a grand slam. Del Potro’s a fantastic player but he got to the semi-finals of a grand slam once and then he went on to win. Andy has been there seven times in the semi-finals. When you look at his career he deserves to win a grand slam. I know him as a person. I like him. He’s a good guy. That’s why I think it would be fair if he won a grand slam. The first thing is that I always want to wish the best to the good guys, the good people, and he’s a good person.”
Considering that they spend their working life trying to knock each other off the court, it might seem strange that Nadal and Murray should be such good friends. Not to Nadal.
“A lot of people believe that competition is like life,” says the Spaniard. “That’s not how I see it. I love to win, I love the competition and I will try my best until the last moment but what happens away from the court is not going to affect what happens on the court. We can try our best on the court and when we are off it we can be close friends, because we are talking 10 minutes before the match.
“I always go with the good people, not with the bad people or arrogant people. I know Andy is not like this. He’s a normal guy. He hasn’t changed with all the victories. That’s always a very positive thing for our sport, a positive example for all the kids and everybody. That’s why I like him and that’s why I wish him all the best.”
When Nadal steps on to court , though, he will not allow himself to worry about how devastated Murray might be if another chance goes begging. “I am sure he’s going to win a grand slam but probably not this time,” he says, before quickly correcting himself. “Sorry. That is a mistake in my English. I meant ‘hopefully’.”
This is why Nadal is a winner. And even if he hasn’t gotten a grand slam yet, Murray is also a winner.