Facing Nadal: Djokovic and Cash Open Up
Tennis journalist Mark ‘Scoop’ Malinowski has published his fourth tennis book, Facing Nadal: Symposium of a Champion available from Amazon.This first in a series of three book excerpts includes insider views from Novak Djokovic and Pat Cash.
This first in a series of three book excerpts includes insider views from Novak Djokovic and Pat Cash.
“I think challenges, big challenges that I had in my career changed me in a positive way as a player. Because of Rafa and because of Roger I am what I am today, you know, in a way, because when I reached the No. 3 in the world and won the first Grand Slam title in 2008, the years after that I struggled a lot mentally to overcome the doubts that I had. And all the big matches I lost to these guys was consistent but not winning the big matches, and then they made me understand what I need to do on the court. I worked hard, and, you know, it’s paying dividends, I guess, in the last couple of years.
You know, obviously it’s not easy when you’re playing a top rival at the finals of any tournament, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, you know. You have to win against the best players in the world. That’s the biggest challenge you can have.”
“I played Nadal when he was a few weeks from being fifteen. In Mallorca. Boris Becker pulled out of the senior match and so they asked me last minute to come in and play, and play the world junior champion. And I said, ‘Yeah sure. I don’t mind playing. The show must go on.’ A bit of entertainment. I got a great photo of him, actually of us together. He played the same way. Obviously, he didn’t hit the ball as hard then. But he played the same intensity, top spin. I was kind of shocked by it all [smiles].”
“As a young kid his age, it wasn’t as if it was something I couldn’t handle but, I mean, the crowd was quite amused when he won the first set against me. And I was sort of being nice to him, Okay, no more Mister Nice Guy. Because this kid is really good. He’ll beat me if he can. It’s not sort of like a fun game. He won the first set and the crowd thought it was hilarious. They were roaring for us. So we were on the court together, so I started chip-charging, serve and volley, that sort of stuff, won the second set pretty comfortably – 6-2 I think. The ten-point tiebreaker. As I said before, 99% of the kids would have choked. And fallen apart. And he was just tearing everywhere. All over the court. And hit some unbelievable winners. And you now, then I was 38, I was still hitting the ball pretty well.”
“And so I lost that match. I don’t remember what the score was. It was close. He didn’t get nervous or anything. Obviously, he didn’t have anything to lose. But I came in the locker room after, the guys sort of looked at me, just to look at my reaction. And my reaction was losing to a fourteen year old. And I just sort of looked at them, Wow, this kid is something else…”
Over 50 ATP players – including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Pat Cash, Stefan Kozlov, Francis Tiafoe, Radek Stepanek, Ivan Ljubicic, James Blake, Marat Safin, etc. – describe in detail the actual experience of playing tennis against Rafael Nadal. Also, this book includes Nadal interviews, media, celebrity, fan, insider perspectives.