As athletes and fans descend upon the city in the waning days of summer, billboards conspicuously transform from beach inspired to tennis themes. The US Open is upon us, and the tournament has begun to consume New York as it does each year.
The king of them all, Rafael Nadal, made an appearance yesterday in New York. The Spaniard, who is working on a responsible drinking campaign with Bacardi, appeared at a Q&A session yesterday afternoon in Midtown, appropriately held at Bar Basque.
As select fans and media arrived, the bar was serving elaborate themed mocktails including “Rafa’s Berry Smash,” “Pineapple Punch,” and “Apple Mojito” (perhaps they ran out of tennis puns?). Below the bar’s solarium lounge, swarms of fans gathered at FoodParc, eager to see the US Open’s defending champion.
Although the shy tennis stud only joined Twitter three weeks ago, he has unsurprisingly developed a formidable following (324,755, to be precise). Rafa used the social networking site to promote yesterday’s press conference, which was projected via telecast to the loyal fans who turned out for the event.
“Because of the earthquakes you have in America, we’re running a little late,” the host said, as guests eagerly sipped their drinks, waiting for Rafa to arrive.
He soon appeared, however, waving to cheering fans below as he entered. Walking into the conference in a pair of tight Armani jeans (we forgive him, he’s European), a particularly tan-looking Rafa sat down and began to discuss, with quiet conviction, his preparations for the US Open.
Don’t expect to see Rafa out partying, responsibly or otherwise, in the next few days, however. The defending champion is all business, practicing his game and priming himself for the tournament next week. Well, not all business. “I think today I’m going to see the Mama Mia,” he said.
Moreover, Rafa’s eponymous memoir came out today, which details the first twenty-five years of the young star’s life. He discussed the book with an almost apathetic nonchalance. “I think it was the right moment,” he said of publishing his life experiences thus far.
After Rafa wrapped up the press conference he signed a few tennis balls and hit them (don’t worry, he didn’t show-off his killer serve) gently down into the crowd below. One of his shots didn’t quite clear the pool below, and immediately a gaggle of excited female fans were splashing in the water, grabbing at the bobbing ball.
The tournament begins next Monday, and we eagerly await what Rafa has to offer this year.
Follow Elise Knutsen via RSS.