SHE has only been cheering him on from the sidelines for 14 years.
Now, finally, Rafa Nadal is to take long time girlfriend down the tramline, er, aisle!
The tennis ace has finally proposed to Maria Francisca ‘Xisca’ Perello on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to keep the news private until now.
He announced the happy event – expected to take place in Mallorca this Autumn – in an interview with Spain’s famous Hola magazine this week.
The pair, both from Manacor, lead independent lives, with Xisca working in insurance, having graduated from Mallorca university with a business degree.
While she is usually only seen at the final stages of most tournaments, she is behind many of the projects of the Rafa Nadal foundation where she works.
But she isn’t always there.
“He needs space when he is competing and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out,” she told the Telegraph.
“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there’s a risk we might stop getting along.”
The 17-times Grand Slam winner, announced the news after his loss at the Australian open to Novak Djokovic this weekend.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca last year, the Manacor player hinted that he wouldn’t be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis.
‘I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness’, Nadal said. ‘I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.
“Having family? I don’t know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”