Commentary

Staying relaxed before Federer

Updated: July 6, 2008, 4:08 AM ET
By Rafael Nadal | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal is attempting to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season.

Throughout the fortnight, Rafa will illuminate us with his day-to-day experiences and inside details as he embarks on this journey.

Friday, July 6
Hi everyone,

First of all I would like to apologize for not sending this blog post on Saturday as usual. I was previously doing it after dinner while at the massage table. But yesterday we finished late and had post-practice obligations.

This is my last blog post from Wimbledon. I have to be realistic -- I don't think I will be able to do one on Monday. I am flying early in the morning to Stuttgart and it will be impossible to do it after Sunday's win or lose. If I win (please, please!), I will be going to the winners party/dinner that the club organizes and logically I won't have time then, either. If I lose then I will be packing everything (got a lot of luggage, as always) and I will be together with my family. In any case I have an early flight on Monday morning.

On Saturday, it has been quite a busy morning. I practiced for two hours. Initially it was going to be a smoother practice but I wasn't feeling that great hitting the ball and decided to practice a bit more with my uncle Toni and a player from Menorca names Nacho Coll. I've known him for some time -- he is in the Balearic Tennis Centre and he is around to play some future events. I use to hit with him on occasion when we were in Mallorca. After that I had a lot of media obligations: press conferences, TV interviews and a get together with the Spanish media that follow me around different tournaments.

In the afternoon I just stayed at the house with my family and team, playing cards, darts and some Play Station. It was a quiet and relaxed day, just trying not to think about Sunday's match. Over dinner, my uncle Toni and I talked a bit about the match and on how to play Federer.

It's what you call a tactics chat. This is the way we do it. Sometimes Toni gives me some advice -- some things to think about. He preferred to share those things on Saturday night so I can think about them instead of Sunday morning when the match is closer.

My parents went out for dinner with their friends and we stayed at home. It was Toni, Rafa Maymo, Tuts (my sister), Uncle Rafael and Benito. We cooked one of those dishes of pasta with shrimp and mushroom and stayed calm.

To finish with this, I wanted to thank ESPN.com for having me do this blog and you -- the readers -- especially for following it, reading it and hopefully enjoy some of the things I had to say. My job is not to write but to play tennis and that's what I do better. Definitely writing is not my best thing. I suppose you noticed it.

Many thanks again and hope to do this again soon.

Rafa

Thursday, July 3
Hi everyone,

I don't really know what to say today on this blog. It is one of those days that I really feel that nothing I have done has been different than what I have been saying before. I did wake up at the normal time; I went to practice at the normal time of noon for over an hour.

Then we played some foot tennis after practice. I always have fun with that and lot of people watched us doing it. It was me and Maymo versus my uncle Toni and Carlos Costa. Maymo was a complete disaster. We lost because the guy is just a zero on the left. Ha-ha! He might be the best physical therapist, but as a football player, he is just terrible. Still, we had a lot of fun. Despite us losing, it was close, and as I always do, look on the positive side.

Afterward I went back to the house and simply cooked lunch. During lunch -- we ate pretty late again -- I watched most of the Arnaud Clement versus Rainer Schuettler match. I am really looking forward to Friday's matchup. This is my third consecutive semifinal here, and I really find myself very motivated and fit. Lots of people might think it is an easy match, but come on, this is a semifinal of Wimbledon and it can only be a difficult match.

The forecast is good with sunny skies so we shouldn't have anything holding up our match.

We played some cards after lunch -- a game called "the one." There I lost. Maymo says that I am a "filet" -- a steak would be the translation from Spanish to English. I am told it doesn't mean anything in English, but it is the way we say someone is not good at something.

Benito filmed us playing cards on camera. I wonder what he does with this footage. He better not use it!

Anyway, thanks all for your support, and I hope to write some more blogs during the next days. It would mean I am through to the next round!

Rafa

Editor's note -- Benito Perez-Barbadillo is Nadal's publicist, and Rafa Maymo is Nadal's physical therapist.

Wednesday, July 2
Hi everyone,

Well, on Wednesday I have that big match here at Wimbledon. I play against the local player, Andy Murray. It is funny in one way since I have always gotten a lot of support here. The crowds really support me and I really feel it. So I suppose they will mostly support Andy. I have been asked a lot about this. It is normal that the support will go to his side, but at the same time I am sure that they will be respectful to me. I am also sure they will applaud the good points of both players. I expect this kind of atmosphere, and I am sure that if the match is good and close, the crowds will get very much into it.

On Wednesday I woke up at around 10 a.m. and immediately after breakfast I changed plans. I had scheduled a practice at 1 p.m., but since my mother and sister arrived, I decided to spend some time with them.

I saw that the sky had cleared and that it was sunny. The forecast was great for the day, so I decided to change the practice to 6 p.m. At the same time, I had more time to rest the back of the knee just to be on the safe side. I had a lot of questions about the knee but, as I said Tuesday, everything should be fine.

Apparently for the next few days the weather forecast is bad. The tournament has been great so far in that regard. But despite the gentleman in the locker room telling us it is not going to rain -- normally the locals know these things well -- I told him the forecast is not too good. Let's see.

So, Euro 2008 is over and I miss football a bit. So to kill that, we watched a DVD that an Italian newspaper published a couple of years ago of goals. It is called the best 200 goals. So while we ate, we watched that on the TV. Glad that Euro 2008 is over because we won but, on the other hand, I miss those matches every afternoon and evening.

See you tomorrow!

Rafa

Tuesday, July 1
Hi everyone,

To be very honest with you, I never thought I would be writing this blog coming off such a comfortable win against a difficult player in Mikhail Youzhny. We always had very difficult matches, and the outcome of the match was a surprise to me. I also want to say to you that I feel very comfortable and very good playing since I have been practicing great and also playing good matches so far. But except for that scare I had on Monday in the second game, I felt great on court.

About the scare, I really thought I injured myself. I even thought about the ligament since I heard a crack. I was very scared, believe me. Then when Michael Novotny (the ATP trainer) and the tournament doctor came and checked it out, they told me it looked normal and OK and that I could continue to play. Scary moments considering everything going through my mind.

Having to retire in the second game of the match in the second week at Wimbledon is precisely not what you dream about. So the worries are big. But, as I said, everything is OK, and hopefully when I wake up, the back part of the leg will be fine. I did a precautionary test after my news conference and I should be fit to play Wednesday.

It would have been terrible -- especially in a personal way, now that my mother and sister arrived this morning. Can you imagine? They arrive here, and after only two games I am out. Same with the crowd, huh? Anyway, things are well, and I am really looking forward to playing Andy Murray on Wednesday. I watched most of his past three sets, and I am very excited about that match.

For you, my American fans, I was at the Tennis Channel on Monday, and I am supposed to go on Wednesday if I win (They want me only if I win!) and then to ESPN after the match. I met Chris Fowler the other day, who is one of the great TV guys, they tell me. Well, I will sneak in again next time.

But let me tell you a story: The other day when I went to their show (Darren Cahill and Mary Joe Fernandez were there, too), the guys from the TV told me to go to the set. But they were in the middle of a shot and told me, "No, don't go!" So I was confused, and in the end it was picked up by the camera. We had some fun there, and they told me I sneaked in. I will do it again on Wednesday!

Many thanks to all, and you probably have noticed I didn't say anything about Spain today, huh?

Viva Espaņa!

Thanks,

Rafa

Saturday, June 28
Hi everyone,

Well, I am still jumping and shouting after the football match on Thursday. What a match. Don't take me wrong, I simply just love football and I am happy Spain is doing well. We deserve it. But I am also thinking about tomorrow's match against Nicolas Kiefer.

I heard somewhere that someone said it was not very professional to have asked the tournament to put my match early so I could watch the football match. I didn't ask them to cancel my match, come on! I only kindly asked if it was possible to schedule me early.

But anyway, and jokes aside, I am really focused on and thinking of Saturday's match against Germany's Kiefer. I will come back to the football later, but first I want to say that he is a very difficult player that I have played twice this year on a different surface (hard). It will not be easy. I am playing well, but this is very difficult.

On Friday, what a surprise -- it rained! That brought back memories from 2007! I had a practice scheduled at 2 p.m. and had to change it to 4 p.m. I had arrived at the club at 12:50 p.m. and got ready for the practice.

When I left home, it was raining, so I knew I would practice late. I decided to have lunch at the club -- had some pasta with salmon. I think this is the year I have eaten less on site, because I usually go home and have lunch there if it is on the day I am not playing. The funny thing was that some pasta got stuck in my throat -- just like the banana a year ago. My physical trainer helped me and everything is OK. Very funny.

After practice I had to do a Nike filming for something for their Web site and the Olympics. So it was a busy late afternoon. It took me over an hour and 30 minutes. I always have something and it is OK with me. This way I keep myself busy and the day of the match comes faster.

Thanks to all,

Rafa.

Friday, June 27
Hi everyone,

Well, to be honest with you, if it was up to me, I would only talk about football all night. I am writing this blog a couple of hours after Spain has defeated Russia and qualified to play in the finals of the Euro Cup. Big night for us Spaniards -- very big. I love football and everyone knows it. I had a great time on Thursday night and I am very proud of what the guys have done. What a match, what a team we have. I believe they can really win the whole thing and that could be historical for my country. I might sound a bit over excited, but you know what, I really am.

I watched the match again at home, at the house I have rented during my stay at Wimbledon. I had my team with me, the people traveling to the tournaments with me and also Feliciano Lopez and his team. We had a great time before, and after, and now I am writing this short blog before going to bed.

I have been asked if I did really ask the organization to play early. And yes, I did. I am not sure if this is very professional. But why not?

We can play our tournament and also be looking forward to watch football. I did ask to play early so that I could be on time to watch the match. It is not only the tennis match itself -- one that lasted almost four hours -- but after that I have some work in the changing room with my physiotherapist and then all the media and TV. That takes almost 1½ hours.

On Friday I have a half day off -- as I call it -- since after practice I will take it easy and rest. Maybe it is not the right day to go for that ride on The Thames. Maybe next week if I am still at the tournament.

Many thanks to all and allow me to say today: Viva Espaņa!

Rafa

Thursday, June 26
Hi everyone,

Thursday is an important day. Not because of my match, but because of the football match between Spain and Russia. I hope you don't take this comment in the wrong way. I mean, my match is very important for me and I am very focused on it. I want to win and I know it is a very tough and difficult one. First things first.

The Gulbis match will be very difficult since I know him and he is a very promising young player with great shots and an especially great serve. I know it will be tough.

Coming back to football, we will watch it at the house I have rented at Wimbledon, with some other Spanish players, coaches and managers. There will be a great atmosphere, and we are all very excited about it.

Again, don't take me wrong since the tennis is my No. 1 priority. On Wednesday, I practiced only one time, and I have to say I am feeling great. I am playing good and hopefully Thursday I can play at my best.

You might think that I am getting boring with these blogs since I don't talk much, but I think this is more or less a diary, and with the fact of having the house so close to the tournament site, I really don't do much.

From the house to the club, back and forth -- it is great for the concentration on the tournament but not much for my social life, sightseeing or anything like that.

We don't even go out for dinner -- only with the exception of a special day. My uncle Toni, who loves to walk, does go out for walks and even goes to the city if he has a free afternoon or morning and walks. I simply can't do that. A lot of people say to us, "Well, your life looks great with all that traveling." But to be honest we don't have much time to go out and do what other "normal" people do when they travel.

On rare occasions, I do go out and be a tourist. I did it during Roland Garros since I had two days in between the quarterfinals and semifinals. That was OK. It's good to break the boredom of the long weeks.

Here at Wimbledon, I found out there are boats that go through the River Thames. If I go further in the tournament, I am thinking of one day going there to have a different view of London from the river. We'll see.

Anyway, as I say, big day Thursday and hopefully Spain will win -- after I hopefully advance to the third round!

Thanks all,

Rafa

Wednesday, June 25
Hi everyone,

Once again I am happy and it is nice to be like this every day. I won my first-round match at Wimbledon and that, for me, it is great news. It is always difficult, believe me, these first rounds.

Tuesday's opponent (Andreas Beck) has a great service and, as I said Monday, can hit very strongly. But I played well and especially served very well. I guess you don't want to hear more from me about the match, so I tell you other stories.

It is funny how at most of my press conference after the match, some of your questions are about football. I know football is the biggest sport in the world and I also love to talk about it. So it is cool with me -- especially when Spain is playing in the semifinals of the Euro Cup.

So there you go, I had a lot of questions about my thoughts on the match against Russia, etc. I love answering questions about football but I don't really understand why they ask me. I know that I am quite popular and what I say is always useful but when they ask me for the ideal 11 players or things like that, it is funny.

One other thing is that Giorgio di Palermo, a tour manager from the ATP, is really upset with me and some of the other Spaniards around since we gave him a hard time the other day after the Italy vs. Spain match. Well, he has to remember that when Roma eliminated Real Madrid from the Champions League earlier this year, he more or less behaved like this. So here it is, my revenge. In any case, Giorgio is a great guy so, come on, man, don't get upset. We deserved to win and Italy, a country that I truly love and enjoy very much, played simply ugly and badly. But they are the world champions, so respect to them.

I did not mention the other day that I bought a nice painting of Marilyn Rock at recommendation of Daniel Muszkat, who is the representative of the artist, Daniele Donde. My agent, Carlos Costa, introduced me to him and I just loved that painting. Not that I am very much into art but I do like these things and especially paintings. My uncle loves it, too.

I also got a present today from a sculptress named Louise. It's really beautiful, so I have to thank her. Last year she already made one of me and gave it to me. She actually brought it to Mallorca and it was really nice of her.

I am sort of shy and when people give me these presents, I really have a tough time. I hope they all take it right. It is simply that also my English is not the best, so I struggle a bit. But I really appreciate all these gestures.

Many thanks to all and until tomorrow.

Rafa

Tuesday, June 24
Hi everyone,

OK, so today I start playing. I am very excited since you all know I love the competition. Last year I arrived early here in London and the wait to start was long. Also, we had bad weather and all that, but this year I arrived late to Wimbledon and the wait has been incredibly short. It is actually almost time to go off and play.

So my days have been easy and quiet. No hiccups. I have been practicing, and since the weather has been holding we cannot complain. This year the house where I am staying is even closer to the club. Walking it takes me one or two minutes, so I can practice and go home for lunch, watch some TV, play some PS [PlayStation] and go back to practice.

We had lunch today and did the normal pasta I always do. Pasta with mushrooms and seafood. We didn't have seafood today so I just added some surinami, I think it is called. These Japanese sticks that taste so good. I put a lot of onions before so it is really nice.

Carlos Costa, my manager, arrived Monday night so he came for lunch, and we also took the chance to talk about different things. I also talk to him a lot about tennis since he was a very good tennis player and knows a lot, so it is always good to have him around.

Tuesday night, we are going to the city since we have been invited to Albert Costa's birthday dinner. His wife has come and has organized this secret dinner. A whole bunch of people will be there and so no cooking tonight for me. I normally don't go to London during these weeks, but tonight it is special so we will be there. The dinner is of course at Cambio de Tercio! I think we are over 25 people, so I am sure it will be a lot of fun!

I am feeling good, and let's see how this starts. You never know with Wimbledon and grass.

Thanks to all, Rafa