french open tennis, Shakira and Rafa

(and don’t ask me why this post is all in italics … blame wacky wordpress)

french open clayIts French Open tennis time. Awesome time if you are a tennis fan. Bunch of guys and gals rolling around in some dirt under the guise of the game of tennis. I have been to three French Opens in my life. It’s an unbelievable experience and I recommend it to everyone.

First it’s in Paris. Can’t go wrong there. No one actually stays near Roland Garros stadium so taking the metro every morning with your coffee trying to figure out the metro station transitions is part of the experience. Then getting off the metro and having to walk maybe ½ mile on a crowded sidewalk with one of those amazing French gardens to your left (jardin des serres d’auteuil I believe). You can be a tourist and tennis fan at exactly the same time.

Second. The actual grounds are incredible. Most tournaments you can get close to players on side courts and practice courts but at the French Open there is an intimacy throughout the grounds that is unmatchable. I have seen Steffi Graf, Sampras, courier, Henin, and others within spittin’ distance (not that I did actually spit to test it). I actually walked through the front gate at my first French Open walking side by side talking with Luke Jensen on his way to his practice court. And court 1, the bullring, is infamous for featuring topnotch players in a classic seemingly ancient environment where you are right on top of the best playesr in the world. It’s all fun. Its red clay … okay … crushed red brick (although the French call it terre battue). Its grind and grit and all these South American and Spanish players you have never heard of grinding out win after win.


I am a big Roger Federer fan. Always have been. Because of that I would imagine that when Rafael Nadal took the court I immediately took a dislike to him. His style. His quirky on court characteristics. His clothes (were a little wacky in his Capri pants). FRANCE TENNIS FRENCH OPEN

But then he started doing something. He started beating Federer. And saying he was not the best player at the same time. Saying he hadn’t earned that yet. He is charming in interviews. He is respectful when winning … and when losing. He has a swagger without the swagger (he tends to leave any swagger on the court). He shows a maturity for a young 20something I wish I could bottle up and use as an example in high schools and colleges everywhere.

In fact. With my whole Global Generation thing in mind I wouldn’t hesitate to ask Rafa to be a spokesperson for the upcoming generation. Heck. Both Federer and Nadal would be excellent role models. I have come to not only like him and watching him play (I am not sure there is anyone in any sport with more guts and ‘no quit’ in them) but, most importantly, I have come to respect him. His game is a combination of a whirlwind of bulging bicep masculinity, bull like bullring flair (Federer is more like a smooth matador and Rafa is more like one of the infamous majestic bulls who took the ring and beat the best matador), a passion to play every point and an unmatchable ability to play his best on pressure points. He is a good role model not only for athletes but people in general.

And Beyond his game and class?

Well. Then there is Shakira (huh?). Yup. She used Rafa in her “Gypsy” video.

Shakira, was quoted as saying on her call to pick Nadal, as her partner in ‘Gypsy’, “I thought that maybe I needed someone (in the video) I could in some way identify with. And Rafael Nadal is a person who has been totally committed to his career since he was very young, since he was 17, I believe.” (hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … “hot for the young thing” comes to mind when reading some of her thoughts on Rafa)

“Shooting this video with Rafa was a great experience, he is very sweet and made it easy and fun,” said Shakira.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … again.

In addition beyond the video it looked like Shakira has been busy not just following the latest tennis matches but also warming up to the (Daily Telegraph’s word) “hunky” tennis player Rafael Nadal.

(I cannot believe I typed “hunky” in one of my posts)

shakira-nadalAccording to the Daily Telegraph, the 23 year old Spaniard player was seen sharing a meal with the 30 something sultry Shakira at W Hotel in Barcelona after shooting the video together.

“There was just the two of them at the table together. They were whispering and all smiles. It definitely looked like they are more than just friends.” (quotes some paparazzi dude hovering over the table with some telescopic lens).

However, the tennis champ’s rep, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, has reiterated that Rafael and Shakira’s relationship is purely platonic and they are definitely not dating. The six-time Glam Slam winner has been dating high school sweetheart Maria Francisca Perello for four years.

ok. How many 23 year olds can say they had a chaperone and not be embarrassed let alone be okay with having someone along while on a non-date date?

–          Denying all the rumors on the alleged relationship he insisted that he, Nadal’s manager Carlos Costa, and video director Jaume de Laiguana were very much present at the restaurant.

(note: I love typing all these Spanish names because it makes me feel my site is so internacionale)

And how happy do you think his high school sweetheart is that he is not only mature enough to head off these rumors with no hesitation as well as continue to avoid the trappings of celebrityhood that seem to haunt 20somethings these days in this position.

Pretty mature stuff for a 20something who has earned millions already and has had his picture in umpteen magazines and well whatever comes along with being famous and talented. I am sure he has good role models and advisors but most importantly is it appears he listens. Nice job kid.

Check him out at the French Open. He is worth watching play. If not only because he may be the ultimate red clay court player of all time.

Oops. Gotta go. Time to watch some French open on TV.

Written by Bruce