He is the second best tennis player in the world. Now the Spanish master of the clay courts will try to beat out No. 1, Roger Federer, in the upcoming U.S. Open. Rafael Nadal will now take your questions.
They say you really admire Roger Federer. How can you have a rivalry with someone you admire? —Rafael Flores, San Salvador, El Salvador
Yes, I admire him, but there's really no rivalry. Roger is No. 1 in the world; I'm No. 2. I'm just trying to do everything I can to get as close to him as possible. But in general, I think you can maintain a rivalry while admiring your rival. When I play him, it's a special motivation to play better. On the other hand, it's just another match, no? There's a little more attention, maybe, but it's another tennis match.
Do you think your playing style relies a lot on physicality? If so, are you worried that your career might be shorter than other greats like [Andre] Agassi or [Ivan] Lendl? —Valentín Feito, Madrid
I started playing very young, and if my career ends short, then it would be because I started playing younger than almost anyone else. My tennis is aggressive, though I wouldn't say that it's more physical than technical. I rely more on technique than physique, but being physical is always a help to me.
Can you explain the decline in American men's tennis? —Randy Arnold, Chattanooga, Tenn.
[Andy] Roddick is No. 4, and [James] Blake is in the Top 10. So it's not bad, no? It's not the same as when [Pete] Sampras and Agassi were No. 1 and 2. But American tennis is working.
How do you feel about women tennis players earning the same salary as men? —Candyce Pecot, Los Angeles
I don't have much opinion about that. I totally agree that women and men are the same in all areas of life, but my opinion is that, well, if we are the same, then women should have to play best-of-five sets [instead of best-of-three] if they want to earn the same amount of money.
What do you think about the recent doping scandals in cycling? Do they affect the tennis world in any way? —Andres Valentin, Madrid
For one, tennis is a much cleaner sport than cycling. Cycling has seen a lot of people involved in doping recently. I think in general this is negative for the image of all sports, and anytime something like this happens, all athletes are damaged.
What's up with biting the trophy when you win a tournament? —Kylynn Fontaine, Bethlehem, Conn.
I started doing it one day when I won my first tournament. I continued. I don't know, I just prefer that to kissing the trophies. It's one of my trademarks.
Why wear the Capri pants that you have to constantly pull out of your rear? Why not shorts? —Sara Norm, Chicago
[Laughs.] It's not the fault of the clothes. It's a habit that I picked up when I was competing when I was young. I am trying to break the habit, but it's not easy.
If you could play against any player in history, who would it be? —Simon Coakley, Stanford-le-Hope, England
I'd choose [Bjorn] Borg. He had such an incredible mental approach to the game. He had ice in his veins, and I'd love to see what I could do against him. If I had to say, I suppose he'd win.
Are you still able to lead a normal life now that you're famous? —Cherie Snyder, Seattle
In Mallorca, I can live a normal life. I go to the supermarket without signing autographs. That's because in my small village, everybody knows everybody. The people know me not because I am a tennis player but because I am a guy from [my hometown] Manacor.
How long does it take you to recover from a tough loss like this year's Wimbledon final? —Ellen Polo, Warwick, R.I.
I give 100% on the court, so I do get upset when I lose. But it doesn't take me much time to recover. The first hours after the match are tough. After a while I forget, and I look forward to the next days back home in Mallorca. I love fishing and golfing there, for example—just being with my old friends. I'm a good loser.
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