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Xisca Perello: What we know about the elusive, private partner of Rafael Nadal.

On Friday night, tennis legend Rafael Nadal broke Aussie tennis fans’ hearts when he defeated our up-and-coming star Alex De Minaur in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open.

In the world number two’s post match interview with John McEnroe, he praised De Minaur for his fight, and thanked his coach, and all the fans who came out to watch the match.

Unlike many other players in the Australian Open so far, the 32-year-old didn’t thank or mention a wife, partner or girlfriend.

Nadal’s long-time girlfriend, now fiance, Xisca Perello is currently in Melbourne with her partner for the first major tennis tournament of 2019.

On Wednesday night following Nadal’s round two match against another Aussie player Matt Ebden, the camera panned to Perello’s face as she laughed at her partner’s post-match interview.

Despite accompanying Nadal to many of his 2018 tournaments including the US Open and Wimbledon, we hardly ever hear of or see the 30-year-old other than a quick smile from the player’s box.

Take fingers to keyboard and Google Perello’s name, and this information isn’t easy to come by. Many stumble over her age, it’s hard to glean what she does with herself now and almost all of the photos of her that exist online are ones she has not posed for. Take a scroll through Nadal’s own Instagram account, and Perello’s face is a rare sight.

We took a deep dive into the life of Rafael Nadal’s girlfriend, the woman behind one of the world’s greatest athletes.

Who is Xisca Perello?

rafael-nadal-girlfriend
This photo of Rafael Nadal and Xisca Perello back in 2013 is the last time the couple were pictured together publicly. Image: Getty.
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Perello, born Maria Francisca Perello, is an intensly private person. She isn't on Twitter or Instagram, at least not publicly.

To the world, Perello isn't 'Nadal's girlfriend', but a former insurance worker, business graduate, and the current project director for Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

The first time many knew Nadal even had a girlfriend was when tennis commentator Jim Courier mentioned it in conversation with the Spaniard at the Australian Open in 2017.

"This is the first time that you brought your girlfriend Xisca [Perello] down to Australia if I'm not mistaken, is that right? How has that been for you to have her with you here?"

After clumsily navigating the sudden interest in his private life, Nadal joked. Yes, it was true. Ten years of Open appearances and his girlfriend "finally gets a wildcard to come here".

Courier pushed a fraction more, but got little in return. “You know, uhhhh, better we stop here," Nadal concluded.

It was all in jest, the atmosphere was relaxed and as the camera panned to Perello, she smiled.

What became clear, however, was how the innocent fun and the awkward exchange secreted a real sense of embarrassment in Nadal --  he simply is not used to, nor interested, in speaking about his long-term girlfriend. And that's always been the way.

Their love, it seems, is one that is characterised by its refusal to play out in the spotlight. Their love is theirs, her life is hers, and his tennis? Well, that's ours.

Digging a little deeper into Perello's time in the public eye, we found so very little. This in itself is notable feat. Their red carpet appearances are sparing, their talk of each other more so.

Perello is widely known for her desire to stay put while Nadal tours the world playing tennis. In our research, we found just the one occasion, in 11 years, where Perello speaks on record to an English source.

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It was an interview with The Telegraph back in 2011, and it's a telling one. When asked about why she does not accompany Nadal on tour, she was clear, if not totally unpretentious.

"The idea of me hanging around waiting on his needs all day wears me out. It would asphyxiate me," she said.

Even more than that, she touched on the other-worldly kind of bubble so much fame generates.

"It’s not a world I want to be part of, nor do I think Rafa would have chosen to be with a woman who looked for that in life."

How long have Rafael Nadal and Xisca Perello been together?

A photo posted by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal) on

Nadal and Perello are believed to have been together since 2005, despite having known each other for a number of years beforehand.

The coupe reportedly met at school in their home town of Palma de Mallorca in Spain. She went on to study Business Administration and English in London, while he went on to become one of tennis' greatest players.

Nadal and Perello aren't engaged, nor have they announced any plans to become engaged anytime soon. They don't have any children together.

From all reports, or perhaps lack of them, Perello breathes fresh air and meaning into the notion of being an enigma. In a realm where we are so totally obsessed with money, fame and identity, she seems to buck everything we thought was so.

Her relationship with Nadal, it seems, exists in spite of his tennis fame and fortune and not because of it. And it's that, perhaps, that's demanding the most attention of all.

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