‘An important part of my life is leaving too,’ says emotional Rafael Nadal in a phone interview from his native Spain. It is the fourth time he has come here as part of his six-month-long world-wide tour with ‘La Vuelta’, to take in the sights of his home city, Barcelona. He is not here to win but to experience them. And though he will have to contend with the rigours of competing at the highest level on clay or in the same arena on grass, he does not shy away from the challenge. Instead, he puts his head down and smiles, the tears sliding over his face. He has been here before on his first visit to Barcelona four years ago and it was with a similar feeling, of wanting to discover things about his city. This time he is just here to enjoy the moment.
‘La Vuelta is a great show, a great experience. For me, going back with ‘La Vuelta’ is like going back with ‘The Voice’. It is amazing to be back in Spain. I miss it a lot here and it makes me feel like I am home. It is always good to come here: it is the best part of my year,’ he says. He admits he has already made up his mind to watch him at play, but only one. ‘I am going to look at him so I can figure out who he is and what he is like. I have seen him on tour, but until I get here to the city I will only look. I am getting older. I want to appreciate him now and see him play.’ In the interim he adds: ‘As much as I love competing, I am a little bit of a sadist. I am going to watch him in Barcelona and then go back to Madrid. When I watch him play, I will fall in love with him.’
The first tennis match between Nadal and del Potro takes place in the Barcelona Dome, a stunning arena whose roof takes two minutes to drop 30