Rafael Nadal has been one of the most admired and loved sportspersons in the world. His career hasn't been blotted by any scandal. His sportsmanship and conduct on court has been exemplary. But now, the 19-time Grand Slam winner finds himself caught up in a controversy, that too in his own country and town.
Rafael Nadal sought clearances from authorities to expand the Rafael Nadal Academy situated in his home town Manacor in Mallorca region of Spain. The required clearances were given by the regional government but now, the mayor of Manacor and conservationists are opposing the expansion. This prompted an emotional response from Nadal.
In a letter written to and published in local Spanish newspaper Manacor Noticias, the 12-time French Open champion said: "I don't like to enter into these types of controversies. I just wanted to express my feelings of pain and disappointment. I think you should, also, have my point of view about things that people are saying.
"Some people may not like the way I held Manacor's name around the world but I think that I made my best effort in order to do it in the best possible way. I was always there when Manacor needed me. Manacor and Porto Cristo are everything for me. Here I live, train, I have my family, friends, it's where I live my day by day," Nadal asserted.
He then went on to talk about the project and its importance for the city.
"I can assure you that this academy project could have been located in several places around the world where we were offered important benefits and a lot of facilities. But though it was a higher economic cost, I wanted to do it in my home, in Manacor, where this project could be positive for my region and the Balearic Islands."
The Rafael Nadal Academy has opened centres in Mexico, Greece, and Kuwait. The expansion of the main academy in Manacor would see it increasing, in terms of area covered, by 54%. It would then possess 45 tennis courts, a football field, two swimming pools, two squash courts, a fitness center as well as a hotel having more than 200 rooms.