I was getting ready to post Steve Tignor’s new article when I got a message from kefuoe about it and how wonderful it was. So, I asked her if she’d care to write about since I often get tired of hearing myself type. Here are her thoughts on The Rafa Rules. Thanks, kefuoe!
I was looking for a small piece of tennis information today and thought it might be found on the forums of Tennis.com (I was curious about why Sampras doesn’t have more Master’s Series shields). It can be a bit of a slog to go through those forums given the sheer volume of commentors, but also because of the amount of, let’s say, passion, that the commentors bring to the site. Anyway, I left the site with my question unanswered and a renewed vow not to visit there anymore. I was most aggravated by Ed McGrogan’s analysis of why discussing Nadal’s fifth Roland Garros victory is premature. Aside from the fact that I don’t know of anyone who is saying that a victory is a given, I felt that there were some basic logic flaws (e.g., comparing Federer’s difficulties in defending a 5th consecutive slam to Nadal’s with the players having two very different years and at two very different points in their careers). The slightly less than humorous part of it is that Nadal was meant to be “Grogan’s Hero” this week!
Anyway, when Steve Tignor sent out a tweet announcing his new “Concrete Elbow” post entitled, “The Rafa Rules” I headed back to the site. What a fantastic piece! Tignor writes very specifically about Rafa’s game, and what even casual players like me can take away from it. What struck me the most however, was a sentence early in the piece that is revisited later:
After getting to know Nadal a little better, most of us have come to realize that his exhortations are just that: self-directed, self-generated energy boosts, reminders to himself to keep his desire to win, rather than his anxiety about losing, uppermost in his mind.
Later, he writes,
Nadal approaches each match as if winning it is a new goal line to cross, rather than something to be afraid of losing.
These two sentences felt like a revelation to me. That’s what just hasn’t rung true in all this talk about streaks and pressure and even GOAT status. It all harkens back to creating a fear of losing, of stopping the streak, of not making history, and that has never seemed like Nadal’s approach. He has held on to a desire to win (and the joy in winning), and has rejected a fear of losing. Tignor’s pieces on Nadal have all be great, but I particularly enjoyed the new insights in this one.