Rafael Nadal is preparing for the Australian Open, but may have had a few sleepless nights in the lead up to it.
No, it’s not because of the Novak Djokovic visa debacle ahead of the tournament as their pair will by vying to win their 21st career Grand Slam.
Nadal picked up his 89th career title last week, and is hoping for a run at the Australian Open titleGetty
It will be because his beloved Real Madrid will be in action three times between now and the scheduled end of the Slam.
The 35-year-old famously gets up at all hours of the day and night to make sure he does not miss a game.
There has already been one against arch rivals Barcelona on in the Spanish Super Cup final.
Nadal has a connection to both clubs as his uncle Miguel Angel was a Barca hero who won the European Cup with the club in 1992 alongside current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, while he also played with Brazil legend Ronaldo.
Nadal’s uncle, Miguel Angel, is a Barcelona legendINSTAGRAM
He played more than 200 times for the Catalan club, also winning five LaLiga titles during his eight years at the Nou Camp.
As a child, the tennis star would go to training at the club and his family would not let him forget the time he donned a shirt of the rival club.
He wrote in his book, My Story: “I went to watch him play often, but I especially remember him taking me to Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, the largest in Europe, when I was ten, to play with half a dozen members of the first team after their official training session had ended.
“I wore a Barcelona shirt that day. A long time would pass before my family stopped teasing me about that because, despite adoring my uncle Miguel Angel, I have always been and always will be a Real Madrid fan.
“As everybody knows, Real and Barca are the two most bitter rivals in world football.
“Why am I a Real fan? Simple. Because my father is, which gives you the measure of how great his influence has been on me as a person.”
Nadal is a huge Real Madrid fan and watches them wherever he is in the worldAFP
Nadal was a talented footballer as a child and he dreamed of becoming a professional.
In his book, he also revealed the lengths he goes to to keep up with Real Madrid games.
He wrote: “Football was my passion as a child, and remains so today. I can be at a tournament in Australia or Bangkok, and if there is a big Real Madrid game on TV at five in the morning, I’ll wake up to watch it – even, sometimes, if I have a match on later that day.
“And I’ll build my day’s training program, if need be, around the timing of the games. I’m a fanatic.”
He continued: “My dream then, like so many boys in Spain, was to be a professional footballer. Even though I was playing competitive tennis too, from the age of seven, and doing well, I always got more nervous before a football match.
“I guess it was because I wasn’t playing for myself alone; I felt a sense of responsibility toward my teammates.”
Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, winning 20 Grand Slam titlesAFP
And it is clear the love between Nadal and Real Madrid is mutual as the club congratulated him on winning his latest title in Melbourne last week.
The club posted on Twitter: “Congratulations on your magnificent victory in Melbourne, @RafaelNadal.
“We are proud that a great Madridista like you and an honorary member of Real Madrid continue to expand his legend with his 89th title.”
The biggest Madrid star in recent years is Cristiano Ronaldo and the their paths have crossed many times.
Nadal has previously said he has huge respect for Ronaldo, but would not go so far as calling him a friend.
“Friend is a very strong word for me,” he said.
“My friends are the little boys from Manacor I grew up with.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a compañero, a colleague. I met him several times, I respect him.”
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