Rafael Nadal: Spaniard’s will to win goes beyond the court

Rafael Nadal plays a shot

Rafael Nadal is notoriously competitive and doesn’t like to lose whether its on the court or off of it.

Compatriot Feliciano Lopez once revealed that Nadal is also a dab hand at Poker.

Lopez added that his fighting spirit and determination to win has made Rafael Nadal a national hero in Spain.

“He wants to win all the time in any game he plays. He will do anything in order to beat you. We play poker sometimes – he’s a great player, aggressive sometimes, but he’s a good poker player, I have to say,” Lopez said in an interview some years ago.

“I think Rafa went further than being a great tennis player. In the society in general, in Spain, everybody loves him as a person. The way he behaves on the court – always fighting till the end – this is what makes the connection with the people possible. He is the son that every mum would love to have.”

Casper Ruud lost to Nadal in the French Open final and has also taken on the Spanish great on the golf course.

However, Ruud revealed that Nadal wasn’t a social golfer full of jokes but took his rounds incredibly seriously.

Asked whether he had played any gold with Nadal, Ruud said: “Yes I have. Played with him a couple of times in Mallorca. He’s a very good golfer.

“No, I didn’t win. He beat me there as well.

“He’s a very, very tough competitor. Honestly, like, a bit tough to play with, because he doesn’t say much because he’s so focused. Usually on the golf course you are laughing a little bit and joking around. With him, it’s no jokes. Yeah.”

Ruud may not have got a smile or a joke out of Nadal but there has been joy at home for the Spaniard who welcomed his first child into the world last week.

Nadal has thanked fans for their well wishes and declared that all is well with baby and mum.

The Spaniard said: “Hello everyone. After a few days and many loving messages I just wanted to thank you all.

“We are very happy and everyone is very well! A big hug.”

Nadal was spotted back out on the practice courts the day after his wife gave birth as he continues to step up preparations for the ATP Tour Finals.

He is expected to return to play the Paris Masters indoor event before the finals and could still finish the year as the World No 1 if things go his way.

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