In the city that never sleeps, Rafael Nadal wasn’t resting on his laurels after capturing his first career US Open to complete the career Grand Slam on Monday night. The World No. 1 stayed on site at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center until after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, celebrating with his family and friends, making a point to personally thank the members of the USTA staff for running the tournament and conducting interviews with Spanish television.
“I had the control antidoping, and saying hello, all the US Open staff and say thanks, everybody, for the organization, for the facilities that they give me, they give to me,” Nadal said in explaining his activity immediately after he crashed to the court following championship point. “After that, I was with the authorities, they came, thank you very much. And the president of the Spanish Federation and the family. Just be out there for the family for a few minutes, and afterward I was in the locker room organization, and having organizing all the clothes.”
So exactly what did Nadal do the morning after his triumph in New York City?
Nadal and girlfriend Xisca, who sat by herself in the player dining area gazing out of the window and watching the rain fall during the one hour, 47-minute rain delay that interrupted the men’s final, sat side-by-side in a van that took the pair back to their Manhattan hotel after 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
The nine-time Grand Slam champion only got about three hours of sleep before heading to Times Square with his family and management team for a photo shoot across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe.
Tourists and fans, seeing the swarm of photographers waiting and blue police barricades set up in Times Square knew something was about to happen and began to crowd the area.
Nadal and his team rolled up, he jumped out of a car and posed for a series of photos while fans screamed support (and a couple of marriage proposals) in his direction. An immensely popular presence in New York, Nadal acknowledged the crowd then it was back in the car for the short ride to Nike Town in mid-town Manhattan where fellow Nike endorser and tennis television analyst John McEnroe, who picked Nadal to win the Open before the tournament began last month, conducted a question and answer session in front of fans wearing Nike Nadal t-shirts staffers passed out at the door.
At the start of the interview McEnroe asked Nadal the question that had long been on his mind.
“How are you so damn humble?” McEnroe asked. “(You must be thinking) Why is this old man asking me these boring questions I want to get the hell out of here and go home.”
A grinning Nadal replied: “Always a pleasure to talk to you John. That’s the only thing I can do (be nice to people). There are people out there every day waiting for a photo. That’s the normal thing to do. That’s my opinion.”
An unconvinced McEnroe shot back, “I tell them to get a life sometimes” prompting laughter from both the crowd and Nadal.
Nadal said life in Mallorca has shaped the player and man he has become.
“It’s part of the character in Mallorca; we are very relaxed,” Nadal said. “The life there goes a
little slower than here in New York so for that reason I am more relaxed on court.”
Completing the career Grand Slam on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, Nadal fell to his back in a complete collapse and said his match point moment was purely a physical response.
“You don’t have control of your body at that moment,” Nadal said. “I don’t have any plan to go down when I win the title. When I won the last point I am (there).”
Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.