Rafael Nadal's secret weapon? The sea

    Story highlights

    • Nadal seeking a record-extending 11th French Open title
    • Top-ranked Spaniard tells CNN of his love of the sea
    • Grew up on the Spanish island of Mallorca

    Paris (CNN)Triumph, defeat or injury, there is one place Rafael Nadal keeps going back to.

    The sea.
      Born and raised in Mallorca, the largest island in the Spanish Balearics, Nadal has had a special connection with the ocean from the day he was born.
      "It's difficult to understand the life without having the sea next to me," the 10-time French Open winner told CNN in an interview after his first-round win at Roland Garros.
      "Difficult to imagine for myself living in a place without the sea.
      "I am always very connected with the sea, I am always very close to it and I have spent hours and hours on the sea in my life."
      Rafael Nadal at the helm of a classic yacht during the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters.

      'Always had boats'

      Although the men's tennis ATP World Tour has a relentless, 11-month schedule, the longest in professional sports, Nadal tries to get away on his motor boat to fish and explore Mallorca's rocky coastline, sapphire sea and sheltered coves whenever he can.
      His yacht is named "Beethoven" after his grandfather, who was a director in an orchestra and who was nicknamed after the German composer.
      "Of course, great news that I have the possibility to have a boat since already years ago, and come back home and have the possibility to go out and spend some time with family, friends, girlfriend, going out, sleeping on the boat," said Nadal.
      "I always had boats, my father always had boats since I was a kid."

      'Feeling of freedom'

      Having turned pro when he was in his mid-teens, Nadal has been competing on the men's Tour for 16 years. During that time, he has reached great heights, becoming world No. 1 and winning 16 grand slam titles, including an unprecedented 10 Roland Garros championships.
      Nadal by the numbers
      Rafael Nadal French Open Roland Garros Paris day two


        Nadal by the numbers


      Nadal by the numbers 01:22
      But he has also struggled with long-term injuries, which kept him home in Mallorca for long periods of time.
      Time and again, being out on the sea has given him the chance to recharge his batteries.
      "Being away of everything is an amazing feeling," said Nadal, who turns 32 in June.
      "The feeling of freedom the sea gives you is something difficult to compare."
      Although he's still chasing grand slam titles, Nadal is looking forward to spending more time on the sea once he hangs up his tennis rackets.
      "I love being inside the boat, I would love to navigate different places in the world and I hope to have the chance to do it in the future," he said.