Tennis: Nadal's New Spin

Photograph for TIME by Lea Crespi

BREAK POINT: Nadal wants to project a more mature image and develop interests beyond tennis. "It's only a game," he says. "It's not work. It's hobby work."

After studying the exotic wildlife of the Galápagos Islands, Charles Darwin surmised that animals can develop unique traits when they evolve in isolation. In the tennis world, Rafael Nadal is such an animal. Based on the island of Majorca, Nadal and his family shunned mainstream training programs as he grew up, preferring the more homespun methods of Rafael's uncle Toni, whose tennis credentials consist of a brief stint competing on the national circuit. Passing up funding from Spain's national tennis academy, and scholarship money from America's private academies, Rafael and Toni would travel to the mainland only when a...

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