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Sarasota News Leader May 24, 2013 Page 85 Did I forget to mention that he had won this very important tournament for the previous seven years? He began a clay-court warm-up for the Barcelona event by entering three ATP tournaments in South America, and he did very well. Finally, the announcement came out online: Rafael Nadal was to be among the players in Barcelona. All was in balance again in the wonderful world of tennis. I left Sarasota on April 20 with anticipation of having a marvelous trip and seeing Rafa play tennis again. The Barcelona weather was unusually cold and rainy, and on April 23, when Rafa was scheduled to play, his match was cancelled. But on April 24, the sun burst through the clouds about 10 a.m., and, as if on cue, Rafa walked onto the court, to the wild applause of the fans. And, once again, with his magic and mastery, he won his match and reminded all of his followers why we are so passionate about watching him play. He continued his impossible streak and also won the championship. Why is Rafael Nadal so universally admired in the world of tennis? Why does he appeal equally to males, females, the young, the old, boys and girls? If I had to sum up his personality in a few phrases, I would say he has impeccable manners; even though he is a tremendous competitor, he has the highest respect for his fellow tennis players; he always focuses on praising his opponents instead of criticizing them; he is extremely humble about his success; and he always talks about improving. Harriet Cuthbert poses at the Barcelona tournament. Photo courtesy of Harriet Cuthbert Rafael Nadal awaits a serve in the ATP World Tennis Tournament in April. Photo courtesy of Harriet Cuthbert In short, Rafa Nadal is a true gentleman. And, since I will follow him anywhere, it is never too soon for my next fantasy — the 2014 French Open. Paris awaits … % 'Rafa' waves to the crowd after a match. Photo courtesy of Harriet Cuthbert

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