Rafa Nadal (July 20, 2023)

Tennis superstar Rafa Nadal 37 discusses life after tennis. He is Spanish, lives with his wife Mery Perello and baby son who takes his name

I live in the island of Mallorca, Spain in a small town called Manacor. Well, I actually live in an even smaller place but the sea in the area of Manacor but called Porto Cristo. I was born in Manacor and so has my family for centuries and I love it here. It is my home and I find it the best place in the world to live.

I think the pandemic changed many things for everyone. Beside the horrible news of people dying and all the tragedies we saw, it also made us realise how freedom is important, it made us appreciate more the simple things in life and it definitely made us all think about our world, our lives and how we live. All negatives have positives as well and that was no exception, but again starting with the respect of all the families who lost their beloved people.

I always see myself as just normal. In the end we are talking about a sport, about hitting a yellow ball over the net and defeating your rival in front. Is it that special, well maybe on the sports field, but life is much more and I have to admit that I am a very lucky person that never expected to achieve all I achieved in the world of sports.

We do travel the world since we are very young, but nowadays is not as bad as it used to be. We travel confortably, we stay at good hotels, we have nice places to go eat, etc. At least at the professional level. So, yes we do have a tough traveling schedule and the pressure of the competition, but no complaints

If you are injured, truly injured it’s not possible to play one tournament. You might be able to play one match but that would be it. Same if you are injured.  we play and practice with pain, the answer is yes. I believe all players play with some degree of pain. You can count with one hand the times you play 100% free of pain. But injured it’s a different story. And regarding emotional pain, not sure what you mean with that. ….Tennis is very mental and you also practice that since you are young. You have to accept defeat, a point, set, whatever, but you have to recover and be ready for the next point, match or tournament.

Roger ( Federer)and I have had a very healthy and off court friendly rivalry and I believe that’s the way it should be. The competition is for the court and it is much mor comfortable and nice to live without confrontation. I have a nice relationship with him and I am sure it will increase more with time. It’s always been good and, again, I believe that’s the way it should be.

I wouldn’t use the word addiction. To the win  It is true that we are all competitors and we take business, sports, very seriously. I am a strong believer in always trying your best on anything you do. In sports it’s not different, you play to win and if you don’t you should stop competing because in a way it would be a lie.

I love the competition , I always did, and I miss being at tournaments and competing, that feeling of practicing, getting ready and competing to win.

To be honest I am not sure I left anything behind that I didn’t have to -and that in any case helps me to be a better person and competitor, so I don’t think I left anything behind.

It is difficult to go to tournaments as a spectator I  went to the Mallorca Championships to see my friend Feliciano Lopez play and yes, you miss being part of the tournament. But fingers crossed I will still be part of tournaments as a player before I retire and I am sure I will enjoy every moment of it as I always did.

I may return to play Wimbledon I suppose time will tell. I don’t know anything about next year and a tournament calendar.

I can say that I have learned a lot I have been traveling around the world for most part of my life and stayed and see many different hotels around the world that helped me in having an idea of what I want for our ZEL brand. I think that the fact of making it feel my second home has that part of my experience and what I want from a place I am staying. 

For me it’s very important to feel the closest possible to a home. In my case to a Mediterranean home, and to have those services that make a stay easy and comfortable. The rooms, the staff, the amenities, the pool and open areas, the gym, … many things that we have tried to apply to ZEL

I got to know Gabriel Escarrer (president of Melia hotels) and his team and in many conversations we discussed at some point the possibility of building something together. And after many more meetings not only with Gabriel but also my team and part of his team we arrived to this concept that today is a reality and that we hope that the guests will enjoy when they come to our properties. 

It was important to have the first hotel open in Mallorca because Mallorca is my home and it’s also Mr. Escarrer’s home. It makes sense like it did to me when I created the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor. I had many options and places around the world offering to host it but I decided to have the main one in Mallorca. I suppose my mental exercise, on my part, has been the same with ZEL.

I like the contemporary style but at the same time with a traditional Mediterranean feel and I believe we have achieved that. Contemporary is nice and I love that kind of decor. But also having a soul and something identified with my roots. 

My closest friends – I grew up with But I have also collected some good friends during all these years.

I just always stayed in touch with them, some played with me, some did other things in life but we are still close and friends. Every time I am in Mallorca we are together. 

I am very close with my family