The King Of Clay Returns To Rule The Court

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco



#1 With 11 wins behind you at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, do you feel more pressure looking for victory number 12 on the clay courts this month?
Rafael Nadal: No, my previous wins don’t add any extra pressure—I feel the same as I always do when trying to win such an important event. I’m looking forward to playing again at this amazing court and amazing club. I have lots of memories from the Monte-Carlo Masters and it will always be one of the most special and most important tournaments of my career.

#2 This tournament at the Monte-Carlo Country Club is a big social event for tennisgoers and residents. From a player’s perspective, how do you deal with the unusual boisterous lunch crowds eating outdoors at the adjoining country club?
Nadal: As a matter of fact, I love this tournament because it’s played at a real tennis club and that always gives it a special feeling. The noise? Yes, it’s a big social event, and that’s something positive, but it doesn’t particularly bother me. I’m sure that people enjoy their lunch and watch some tennis at the same time.

#3 You’ve been dogged by a recent wrist issue and then in March, you had to pull out of the semi-final match against Roger Federer at Indian Wells because of a knee problem. How do you mentally cope?
Nadal: Yes, it’s been really unfortunate but that struggle has always been part of my career. It’s never easy to come back after an injury and with age it gets even more frustrating, but you have to accept it. Plus, the will to compete and come back has always been stronger within me. Mentally, it’s just part of the game.

#4 How important is mental coaching to young players?
Nadal: In my case, mental coaching was very important when I was a kid, especially at the beginning because that’s when you really learn to be mentally strong. You have to train for the mental game as well as the other parts of the sport.

#5 With social media 24/7, when does a pro athlete not have a responsibility to their public?
Nadal: I’ve always believed in the accountability of public figures. Sport is a very important part of our society and we have a certain responsibility towards the younger community. And now with social media it’s even more so but, as a role model to many, your public behavior is an obligation.

#6 In your 20 years of playing, how has technology and science changed nutrition and fitness?
Nadal: Every element has evolved and changed, starting with the racquets, the surfaces in a way but, more importantly, the extreme professionalism and specialization of every component of the game. Overall, it’s mostly for the better.

#7 You once said, “If you’re happy, it becomes easier to play good tennis.” You unwind by heading out on a boat, fishing, snorkeling and spending time with family. Would you live in Monaco, known for its quality of living?
Nadal: I’ve never had the chance to live in Monaco but I can’t complain since I live on the beautiful island of Mallorca, which is also one of the most privileged places in the world.

#8 At the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, schedule permitting, you support the Indigo Foundation, a children’s cancer support association in Nice, who bring young fans diagnosed with a life-threatening disease to the tournament. What does this mean to you?
Nadal: For many years, some of these kids have come to the tournament to see my pre-event practice. It’s always nice to see them and spend a bit of time together. I understand the importance of these things and always try to support them.

#9 You launched the Nadal Foundation in 2008 with your Mom. What values did she instill in you that you carry over to your foundation’s initiatives?
Nadal: I learned that you need to give back and this is definitely a very important project for me. We have a great team of people dedicating themselves to help children through sports to get out of difficult situations in life.

#10 What prompted you to set up the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy in Manacor and, as of this spring, in Mexico and Greece?
Nadal: I wanted to have something for the future. We started planning the project over four years ago and within two years it became a reality. I believe it’s an amazing facility that not only has a tennis academy but many more things—the Sports Center has much more to offer, including my museum with all the trophies I’ve won. I invite people to take a look at the academy. Regarding the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre in Costa Mujeres, Mexico, and the one in Greece, they’re different projects, smaller and focused on specific tennis centers for people wanting to experience tennis in those parts of the world.

#11 You currently have endorsement deals with Richard Mille, Nike, Babolat, Kia Motors, Telefonica, Banco Sabadell, and other brands. What advice would you give about the business side of tennis to young players hoping to secure endorsement deals?
Nadal: Think only about tennis and a career. Enjoy the game, but surround yourself with honest and loyal people. All the elements must be aligned for that moment when your efforts pay off in a big way. But the most important advice is to think about the sport, what elements are needed to win on the tennis court. Some people tend to do too much of one thing and not enough of what is really important: practice, improve and win matches.

Nadal with Indigo group at the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters


IN A LESS THAN groundbreaking 60 Minutes report, “Inside Monaco: The ultimate playground for the rich,” which aired on CBS on March 17, Anderson Cooper twice made reference to Somerset Maugham’s go-to aphorism of “a sunny place for shady people.”
One in three residents is indeed a millionaire. Some are happy to pay up to €250,000 a month for rent at One Monte-Carlo, others are willing to spend $55 million to travel to Low Earth Orbit for a week. But as Michael T. Suffredini, CEO of Axiom Space, pointed out in the last issue of Forbes Monaco, “It takes capital to make a significant change and UNHWIs have the resources.”
Monaco’s “playground for the rich” has housed Syrian refugees and nearly 50 NGOs, foundations and associations make up the country’s International Solidarity Organisations. Still benevolence in the Principality extends beyond these designated groups.
Look no further than the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which takes place April 13-21. While tennis fans flock to the tournament to sip champagne over the melodic ponking of a long rally, behind the scenes a gaggle of youngsters await the chance to meet their idols.
Unofficially, it’s referred to as Indigo Tennis Day, when young cancer patients can watch the champions train or play with the chance to get an autograph or selfie. They are treated to lunch and given souvenir t-shirts and giant tennis balls, courtesy of Kory Tarpenning, owner of Nike Monaco.
The idea came to light 16 years ago with Anthony and Karin Stent Torriani of Monaco Asset Management when their daughter was treated at Lenval Hospital in Nice for an immune deficiency. “Children with cancer in Monaco are treated in Nice,” explains Karin Stent Torriani.
Their experience with the Indigo Association, a non-profit foundation based in Nice that works with the hematology and oncology departments to improve the quality of life and caring for a child diagnosed with blood disorders or cancer, prompted the Torrianis to give back.
They decided to create a tennis day and donate their box seats during the first day of the Masters tournament and provide lunch for the group.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.