I knew Rafa would spend Sunday afternoon with vested interests as he watched his favourite football team - Real Madrid - take on his local team - Real Mallorca, of whom he is now a share-holder and Uncle Miguel-Angel is assistant coach - as they fought it out for a boring 0-0 draw. Here's a report ...
The day before the start of the U.S. Open, Toni Nadal and his nephew Rafael sat in the lobby bar of the St. Regis Hotel watching... soccer. "We practiced tennis very quickly because Mallorca and Real Madrid were playing," said Toni, who is also his top-ranked family member's coach.
It's been a distracting few months for Rafa, with so much action happening on the soccer field. The tennis superstar is a huge "football" fan and part shareholder of his hometown team, Real Mallorca, where his other uncle helps out as a trainer. Rafa kept close tabs on Spain's matches in the World Cup and was ecstatic when they won. "He's crazy!" Toni said laughing, referring to Rafael's passion for the game. (Toni never calls him by his nickname, Rafa.)
After the game ended, Toni said that he went for a walk in Washington Square Park, but Rafael went back to the room. "It's not easy for him to leave a lot because there are so many people," Toni said, talking about the mobs of autograph seekers trying to get a glimpse of the Spanish superstar.
Rafa will play the first night match in the stadium on Tuesday against Russian, Teymuraz Gabashvili. "Before beginning the tournament Rafael goes to bed at around midnight or later," he said. "Rafael doesn't like too much to sleep."