I witnessed my first mid-day Rafa practice today and it was......an experience.
I was walking on my way to the Devvarman/Ferrer match when I saw a HUGE group of people watching a practice court and, of course, the player on it was none other than Rafael Nadal. I calmly approached the fence about 3 rows back and then madness ensued.
I started getting shoved and pushed from behind by sweaty bodies, all to the soundtrack of screaming, crying, and Rafa grunting. It was DANGEROUS people. I went around to the other side to get away from the horde and got some better shots.
You knew when Rafa was leaving, because the screaming came to a cresendo. I get it, Rafa is a rock star, but the craziness was otherworldly. Kudos to the Sony Ericsson Open to giving fans such great access to players, but double the kudos to the security guards who have to deal with this on a daily basis. They literally risk life and limb protecting Rafa.