It seems that, for all the luster of his return to the pro game, Rafael Nadal could use some positive press. Sure. there is the word that he's sporting a new $690,000 watch in matches, but there are also plenty of annoyed passengers on the tennis-fan train who are fed up with his complaints about court conditions the world over. Where you may fall on the continuum from Rafanatical to Rafaghast probably depends, as it does with Victoria Azarenka and the rest of the top guns, on what your already existing notions are about him.
With that said, here then is footage from a decade ago of a 16-year-old Nadal just starting out on the ATP tour. The kid is bright, video-game savvy, supremely talented ... and surrounded already by trophies.
Times were simpler then, surely, but there was already an anxiety about going up against the top pros at that time. Even so: "Because I'm a fighter, and I really hate losing, things tend to level out." Sounds like someone else we all know well, one Maria Sharapova, seen here in another video from Trans World Sport:
Some things don't change. At the same time, a lot does turn. These two are different people now, or just evolved. They have become the persons and the champions that their family members set out to fashion them into, and they are milking their native talent for all it is worth. Each is likely to make a huge dent in the 2013 season.
So it's crystal-ball time, Spin readers: Do you foresee Nadal and/or Sharapova taking a Grand Slam singles title this year?
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)