We are nearly a week into the 2012 French Open, and six-time champion Rafael Nadal is off to a great start. We’ve asked Nadal for his insider analysis on how the tournament’s going so far, how his form is, and what he expects from the Open’s second week. Take it away, Rafael.
Uncle Toni, no! Stop! No, Uncle Toni! No suntan lotion! It’s icky! Stop! Get away! No lotion! Too sticky. Mean Uncle Toni!
Oh, hello! My name is Rafa.
So far, French Open go very badly. I win matches, but I do not care because Roger is best ever and I am just humble six-time champion from Majorca. Roger or Novak will just beat me in the finals anyway. I am lucky just to be on the same court as such all-time heroes.
Before every match, Uncle Toni make me put on suntan lotion. Yucky. He say it good for me but I think it is bad. And hard to rub in. Yucky yucky yucky.
Also, after second match, the lunch in the locker room was ham and cheese. Double yucky!
In Majorca, I make good friends with a piggy I find on a farm. I name him Mr. Oinkers. So now when I see ham, I think about Mr. Oinkers and I cry and I cry and I cry. And cheese is weird, no? It is not hard like candy bars and it is not soft like peanut butter. What is it? Weird. And yucky. No ham and cheese for me. Uncle Toni says I need calcium and protein for five-set matches but I do not plan to play any five-set matches in France. Oh, um, I mean, because I will probably lose my next match in three sets. I am just happy to be here.
Also at one match I could hear thunder in the distance. I knew Lightning Man was coming to get me and I wanted to run away and hide but the umpire tells me to keep laying and Uncle Toni gives me The Look, so I stay and wait to get electrifried. Very scary.
I am not having such a good French Open so far. I probably will not even get to bite the trophy like usual.
I’m sorry, I must interrupt.
Rafael Nadal is a savage.
This “ham and cheese” he’s complaining about? The “ham” was actually jamón ibérico I had flown in from Rafael’s home country, as a tribute to his greatness here at Roland Garos and as a special treat for all the gentlemen in the locker room who compete like Athenian Olympians of old upon the sacred red clay. The jamón ibérico comes from a specific farm in Salamanca with which I am well acquainted. The meat typically wholesales for more than 50 Euros per kilo, but I get it for 45 because the owner appreciates my seemingly effortless grace on the court. The meat is created from the noble black Iberian pig, which has been fattened on a decade of the finest grains and barleys. I consider it the finest cured meat in the world, and as with all things, I am something of connoisseur.
The cheese that so repulsed Mr. Nadal was an artisanal Stanser Schafkäse from my hometown in Bern. I offer it to my fellow competitors every year as a way to honor my homeland and to communicate the respect I have for the players on tour. Turning it down — or throwing it in a nearby toilet while shrieking, as Mr. Nadal did — is something I consider to be a personal insult and a rebuke to proper decorum. Master fromager Rolf Beeler creates the cheese especially for the Federer family in his private aging caves, using his proprietary rind process honed in his family for centuries. Now a piece of this near-priceless delicacy clogs the sewer system beneath Roland Garos thanks to that Majorcan animal. Even Primitive Americans like John Isner appreciate the refined taste of this cheese, and the passion and delicacy with which it was created.
As for Rafael’s near-constant protestations about players using sunscreen in the locker room, I can only assume he is concerned about hazardous carcinogens. I’ll have Mr. Nadal know that I only use a sunscreen personally curated for me by Anna Wintour’s team of cosmetologists, and it’s as safe as it is effective. Mr. Nadal must understand how harmful the sun can be when you are out on the court for a grueling 6-0. 6-2, 6-3 performance. I suppose that when Rafael is 70 and his skin resembles the remnants of what my servants clean out of my garbage disposal, he will perhaps understand how mistaken he is. He will look at my milky, smooth face, which will still appear to be the visage of a 23-year-old, and Rafael will know regret, perhaps for the first time in his simple life.
HEY ROGER MAN, I AM TWEAKING PRETTY BAD OVER HERE! CAN I GET SOME OF YOUR FANCYBOY HAM AND CHEESE? I JUST DRANK THREE BOTTLES OF YOUR SUNSCREEN AND NOW I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGS.