In a recent interview, Rafael Nadal revealed how shy he was as a teenager, the time he was trying to make it big and join the tennis elites on the professional tour. The Clay King shared that he used to be a little bit intimidated by the environment, but when playing tennis he always had a great fighting spirit.
‘I was really shy when I was a kid’, the 32-year-old said. ‘I started on the tour very early with 16, and I was very shy. Well, I was not shy playing on court. That’s the most important thing, no? You can (be) shy in life, but obviously when you are going on court, when you are competing, you compete.
You cannot be shy. At the end is obvious if you are shy playing, probably you will be in trouble. But the normal thing, if you are a good junior, all your life you did that, it’s difficult to be shy on court. You can be shy outside, but on court, is the thing that you do, you are by yourself, and probably will not happen.‘
Carlos Moya had clashed with Nadal very early on in his career. He too noticed the shyness of the then sixteen year old player. He recalled the first meeting with Rafael Nadal at the 2003 Hamburg wherein Nadal prevailed in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Now they are respectively coach and player.
‘His level didn’t belong at (that position). He was very young, a 16 years old who had already beat Albert Costa in Monte Carlo months before or the year before, I don’t remember well. He was already someone to look out for, we got a glimpse of what his game would become later. It was not my best game, to be honest. He didn’t play great either; both of us were a little bit nervous about the situation. I was the favorite against a 10-year younger person. He respected me and when he beat me he was very shy, nervous and said: “I am sorry, I won,” and I replied “No worries.” I understood that it was one of the many times that he would win and I knew he was going to be a great player.’
Federer had similar anecdotes to share about Nadal. “At the beginning he was very shy and respectful with other top 10 players, and especially because I was No. 1,” Federer recently told Tennis World.
“Then as the time went on his personality increased and he started playing his chances. It was interesting to see him growing up until that he became the champion he is today.”
The 17 time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal reveals how shy he had been as a teenager.