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Last Updated: Saturday November 11 2006 11:45 GMT

Sportsround meets Rafael Nadal

Tennis ace Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is the second best tennis player in the world, and in years to come could challenge Roger Federer as the real ace of the sport.

Sportsround caught up with the smash hitter to find out what he thought of the game, football, and our very own Andy Murray.

What got you into tennis when you were young?

I played football too, but my uncle was a tennis coach and I went there to practise a couple of days a week. Over the year I started to improve and finally I started to play tennis more, because I was playing better.

Did you realise straight away when you picked up the racket that you were good?

Not really. The most important thing for me is to enjoy the game, enjoy the competition and enjoy the practice. It's a lot of hours practising, and if you are not happy playing it's very difficult.

Were you good at all sports, or was it just tennis?

I like a lot of sports. Especially football, it's my favourite sport. My uncle played football in Barcelona for nine years and played for Spain in three World Cups.

I support Real Madrid and Real Mallorca.

Did you enjoy the World Cup?

Yes. The World Cup is always a special show and competition. In the last one Spain were playing well, but then they lost to France.

When you're playing tennis you're travelling all over the world, that must be tiring?

Sometimes it is difficult. Every week you travel to a different place, a different city. For example I have to fly to Chennai in India for a tournament on 28 December.

That is difficult sometimes, but I enjoy it and I have some very good friends on the tour and that's very important.

Talking of friends, how do you get on with world number one Roger Federer?

My English is not the best, but I have good relations with him. I wouldn't say we are friends as he is from Switzerland and I am from Spain, but we get on okay.

My friends on the tour speak Spanish, like Argentines or Spanish players.

What keeps you going, with all the travelling and hard work?

I always have very good motivation. I love the competition, and not just if I am playing tennis. If I am playing golf I love the competition, if I am playing football it's the same.

But tennis is my sport, and I have a long time playing tennis left. I enjoy playing tennis and it's my life too.

What do you think of Andy Murray?

He has improved a lot in the last year, he is playing so much better than last year.

And in the second half of the season he played so much better than in the first half. That's very important. He will have a good chance of getting into the top 10 next season.

Do you like coming to play in London?

I played twice in London this year - at Queen's and at Wimbledon.

I like the grass courts, I know it's difficult sometimes playing on them, but I love playing on a different surface and the fans were very good to me.

What advice would you give to young players?

Just enjoy it. Play without pressure and enjoy it. Enjoy the sport and be happy playing tennis.

What are your three top tips for success?

The first thing is to love the competition.

Second is enjoy practising tennis.

Third, enjoy the difficult moments. Sometimes when things are not going well, or you are losing or not playing well, you need to be happy because you are okay. There are a lot more people in worse situations than you, you need to be happy.

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