Manacor, Mallorca, Spain (CNN)It’s business as usual at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, on the Spanish island of Mallorca, the week before Christmas.
Rafael Nadal, the “King of Clay” with 17 grand slam titles to his name, is in a good mood as he drains a can of Coke while talking about his comeback from injury and surgery following an intense two-and-a-half practice session in the morning.
But when asked about the flash floods that struck Mallorca in October, killing 13 people, the former world No. 1 goes quiet.
“It was terrible,” Nadal told CNN Sport in an exclusive interview at his academy. “Scary, and very sad.”
Most of the deaths occured in the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, near Manacor, after 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain fell in just four hours.
“It happened in the village just next to us, just five or six kilometers away from here,” reflected the Spaniard. “It was a tough day.”
Soon, pictures of one of the world’s greatest tennis players, covered in mud and sweeping the streets with a broom, went around the world.
“The next day, we went on court and after 10 minutes, I said ‘Guys, I can’t practice.'” he recalled about that day. “I came back, and I was here with the friends and after that, we decided to go there. That’s all.”
Nadal also opened up his academy to victims of the flash floods who were in need of shelter and this week he donated one million euros ($1.1 million) to the victims of the disaster.