Rafael Nadal says that he is thinking about tomorrow, although in reality, the tennis player began designing the after. For a long time he has exploited his business facet – advised by his agent and his father, especially – and there are those who imagine a future for him with a tie, but Nadal is tennis and tennis is Nadal. So six years ago, in 2016, he fulfilled his great dream the day he uncovered that plate and shook hands with the Swiss Roger Federer. The frame officially inaugurated the training and training center that the player wanted, happy between rackets and young people. One of them, Casper Ruud himself, who in 2018, at the age of 19, entered and shaped himself until landing in the current situation.
Norwegian is a product genuine member of Nadal’s academy, directed by his uncle Toni and whose facilities are located four steps from the historic center of Manacor, five from the coast and in a fabulous environment that attracts parents who want to enrich the personal and sporting future of their children. Currently, 150 teenagers from all over the world study and learn to play tennis there and some, in the case of the Nordic finalist at Roland Garros –an exception because the quest for professionalism stops 99% of those who try–, is managing to reach far. He is number six in the world and right now, without a doubt, one of the best players on clay.
“Hello, Ruud, welcome. Everyone is excited about your arrival at the academy. I wish you the best”, Nadal dedicated to his arrival, aware that this disciplined boy with very good shots had very good manners and that now he will have him on the other side of the net. It will be, in fact, the first time that the two, who usually work together and have complicity, face each other.
“I have years of tennis left, but there is a future and this academy is part of the future. We hope that those who come enjoy it to the fullest, we want this facility to be a professional success for them, but also on a human level”, said the 21-time champion on the day of the kick-off; “That they learn to play tennis, but also education and that they leave with the necessary training to face life with guarantees, whether in sports or in any other field. We are doing something that is special and we are doing it here, in Mallorca, in Manacor, at home. So it’s doubly exciting.”
The Nadal brand it is suggestive, but not only for the training of minors. There are not a few top tennis players who have dropped by the center and have spent some seasons preparing, trying to soak up the spirit of the Balearic Islands and enjoying a perfect space to exercise: sun, good weather, by the sea. The list is extensive –Aliassime, Schwartzman, Bautista, Dimitrov, Andreescu, Davidovich, Isner, Sonego…–, but there are three names that stand out above the rest on the list, those of the Scottish Andy Murray, the Japanese Naomi Osaka or the Polish Iga Swiatek, already two-time Roland Garros champion after beating Coco Gauff (6-1 and 6-3).
In 2016, when he was number one on the circuit, Murray already chose Manacor to fine-tune his set-up for the US summer tour and three years later, while trying to re-engage in his sport after having undergone surgery a couple of times to repair his career, he played a challenger and it was shot during the summer in the same facilities. Then Osaka and Swiatek asked for a turn with the aim of polishing their game on the sand.
“It was inspiring, just to see all her trophies together… Wow!” said the winner in Paris, who chose Mallorca to storm Rome and thus reach the Bois de Boulogne in tune. She previously tried to do it Osaka. The Japanese, four greats in her record, had the first contact with the island in 2019 and later repeated, observing Nadal’s sessions to steal some tricks on clay that, in her case, have not given the intended result .
The magnetic effect of the academy continues to attract elite tennis players and has boosted Ruud. “I think being an athlete means being focused 24 hours a day, seven days a week on your work, taking it seriously and growing every day,” says the 23-year-old Norwegian who has fully embraced the culture of effort Nadal under the orders of Mallorcan Pedro Clar.
“They have trained many times together and it is true that they know each other very well,” concedes the coach in a statement collected by the ATP website; “They respect each other and we will surely see a great final, with very disputed points, since the game of both is based on being aggressive from the back of the track. For the Academy it is something impressive and unique”.
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