Xavier Budó Bartumeu, the Director of NOVAELITE Sports Performance Innovation, coach to Carla Suárez and co-director of the ELITIA group of women tennis players wrote the following article for puntodebreak.com - Rafa Nadal: mucho más allá de un tenista, de un deportista (Rafa Nadal: much more than a tennis player, than a sportsman). It has been translated for us by nou.amic.
much more than a tennis player, than a sportsman
By Xavier Budó
It is three years ago now since we inaugurated our centre, NOVAELITE. It was an unforgettable day with many Olympic champions there, Rafa Nadal among them. You can imagine what it meant to us to count on his presence and support. We thought and thought about what gesture we could make for him. I got in touch with Miguel Ángel Calleja, one of those friends who always help you: "Miguel Ángel, could you prepare us an emotive video of the 50 best points in Rafa's career with the type of music he likes?"... and he, who is really good at it, prepared the video for us.
Before the official inauguration and in private... we put the video on for Rafa... the 50 best points of his career. There were points from matches at any time... the 4th game from the 2nd round in Australia years ago... the 7th game from the 4th round at Wimbledon... and you cannot imagine our surprise, our incredulity... when he began to be one step ahead when he saw what point it was... and he described the point to us... before it happened!!! He even told us to watch out for a bad bounce in one point from a match in Rome... three years before!!
We had to rub our eyes... we were not dreaming... I will never forget this moment.
There are many things I admire about Rafa, one of which is every time he speaks at press conferences. He always does it perfectly. Not long ago he said: "There is something that makes me even happier than being number one and that is the process, the effort, the path taken to get there."
I have always thought that one competes as one lives. Rafa is an example of the importance of day to day work, of getting up each day and trying to be a bit better than yesterday, and of an unlimited desire to improve. He manages to achieve levels on the mental side, in the capacity to overcome adversity, that you do not think exist, you think are impossible, and Rafa shows you they are possible for him (only for him).
A person who is capable of remembering the points we prepared for him on this video, in detail... shows you that he lives his passion - tennis, competition and everything it involves - in his interior like nobody else, to an extraordinary degree.
I think we have run out of adjectives and qualifications to use when speaking about Rafa Nadal the person and Rafa Nadal the tennis player. He is an authentic world number one both on and off the court, because of his values, his attitude, everything he communicates to us, his capacity for surpassing himself, his passion and many things more.
For some time now, everybody has been talking about the present economic crisis society is having to endure. I never tire of repeating that, to my mind, there is a much more worrying crisis (and that is saying something) than the economic one: the crisis in values/principles. That culture of effort, integrity in what one does, commitment and ethics, the value of one's word and one's actions, work done in silence, inner fortitude (and not exterior superficiality), fighting for one's dreams, etc...
We all need to have models to learn from, who give us hope and show us the path to take. Socially and politically we are living through times when society feels a great deal of impotence and sadness in front of all that is happening at present. And, precisely at this point, a person who embodies everything that makes us proud and which we so need at the moment: real values, authentic values, has appeared in our country, in the world of sport. He is Rafa Nadal.
Every time I talk with friends, with the family, at work, or with anybody at all and Rafa's name comes up, there is nobody I see whose eyes do not light up, or who does not pay him compliments each one better than the other, or who fails to speak about his/her admiration for him, or who does not rate him excellent as a person and as a professional... Is it coincidence? Not at all. There has never been such unanimity in speaking about anybody.
Jorge Valdano put it in words that delighted me: "Rafa Nadal is a monument to the dignity of sport."
Rafa has managed to go much further than being the world number one at tennis or than being the best or one of the best sportsmen in history and being recognised by us as such. Rafa has managed to become, and that we see him as, a model, an example to follow, in any of life's spheres. That is something unique.
I think the greatest success and personal satisfaction is feeling happy giving 100% of what you have and are, any day of the year. I think Rafa is unique in this sense.
Obviously the merit is his and his alone. But, the magnificent team and people he has around him have also contributed a great deal. Behind a great unique player... a great team.
I am a great believer in team-work, even more so nowadays when growing and improving in any aspect is the sum of many small details and only team-work gives you more opportunities to obtain whatever objective or goal you set out to achieve.
Toni Nadal once made an extraordinary reflection with which I could not be more in agreement: "We always talk about the importance of improving a tennis player's strokes, but why don't we talk about forming character? That is the most important." He has always given and gives priority to this view... and the results with Rafa are obvious, they are unbelievable. Toni is his mentor, the point of reference, and has worked very well on all aspects of the game throughout Rafa's career, but above all on the mental aspect (which I think is the main and most important part of tennis).
Everybody talks about the importance of the mental aspect in tennis. But, you have to work on it and know how to work on it. That is the key.
Rafa's team is tremendously homogeneous and each member stands out in his field: Carlos Costa, with the vision and knowledge of a manager who was once a magnificent player himself, Rafa Maymó who travels every week of the year with him and is much more than his physiotherapist, Francis Roig, with his profound sound knowledge of tennis, and Joan Forcades, someone I really admire. I think he is a magician, a visionary, a person with unusual out of the ordinary knowledge. He is always in the shade, but he is extraordinary.
And the many more people who make up Rafa's team and I do not have enough space to name.
Coaching team and family. Family and coaching team. Two pillars that must go hand in hand in any project. Using one language. Just like his team, Rafa's family have done much to strengthen these values, this identity that is Rafa's. They are sportsmen, fighters and 'persons'.
Nothing happens by chance in this world and managing to achieve everything Rafa has done even less so. It has all been built up from when he was very young, that is where the key to it all begins, with a coaching team, and a family, working in unison to make Rafa what he is today, a really fantastic human being and professional. An extraterrestrial.
I like it when Joan Forcades talks about Rafa's "theory of Mondays" - Finish one tournament and the next day.... work and work and work to become a bit better every day. That is Rafa's key.
At the moment of maximum pressure, of maximum stress in any match, in any situation on court, what always comes out is what is worked on every day. It is the sum of the visible training plus the training that cannot be seen.
"Four hours of match, both players at their limit... extremely hard difficult points... an infernal rhythm... a very important point... Rafa gets to it at full stretch... and hits an improbable winner... " We have experienced this situation many times now. Behind it lies not just a good week of practice sessions or a good year of work. Behind it lies a life. A life forged by him and all his team under two irremovable non-negotiable pillars: values and attitude. That is what builds a character, a personality, a unique mentality.
I only hope that with time we come to live in a world where values of which we feel proud predominate in all fields. For the moment, every day Rafa teaches us and conveys to us what they are. Let us enjoy him and take notice of him and, starting from there, each one of us try to do our little bit to help, in sport and in life. I have never learned so much watching and paying attention to anyone in the world of sport as I have with Rafa Nadal.
Thank you Rafa.