Yeah, I missed yesterday – sue me!
If Nadal didn’t distinguish himself enough with his courageous tennis, his response to the postmatch dramatics was pitch perfect. Honestly, could you have scripted a more gracious reaction? This was a total improv job, too. Not as though an athlete has a canned response for what he’ll say in the event that his rival sobs uncontrollably on the trophy platform. And what an extraordinary ability to compartmentalize: one minute you’re fighting to the death; the minute the match ends, you’re a compassionate human being. We’ve talked plenty about how Nadal has proven to be Federer’s equal (and then some?) on the court. But he’s a rival in the mensch department too.
As a result, would it not be too surprising to see Nadal-barring serious injury-win, say, the next four French Opens? No, I don’t think it would.
Can I just say that I despise all the GOAT talk? First, I hate the acronym; second, it’s impossible to compare players from different eras. Not only because of court, schedule and equipment differences, but also because of depth-of-field differences.
The brilliance that is Nadal
It got me thinking, just how good is Nadal at this age? Compared not just to Federer but to the previous tennis greats over the last 50 years.
It was a gesture of compassion from a champion who can be hard to read. (The Spaniard’s English is rapidly improving but remains an impediment; a colleague who speaks fluent Spanish told me Nadal is “impressive” in his native tongue — thoughtful, serious, articulate.) The postmatch exchange between the two players made their rivalry that much more compelling. Their words and actions illustrated the extent of their mutual respect, and the importance each places on winning and on his respective place in the history of the game.
He repeated the message a thousand times yes, we can, because if somebody can deliver that message, that’s Rafael. It was a way as any other to say that positive thinking and that was a great opportunity to make history.
Rafa’s victory underlines his greatness and proves indisputably that he is the world No 1. Having beaten Roger on clay, grass and now on the hard he deserves his place at the top of the pile and is going to be difficult to dislodge this year.
Imagine what it must be like, to be the very best … and there’s one guy you just cannot beat. Federer has lost five grand slam finals since 2006 — all five have been to Rafael Nadal.