Rafael Nadal finds deep meaning in defeat

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/ AFP/ Getty Images

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/ AFP/ Getty Images


The Times Online has posted a wonderful article about Sunday’s “rare accident.”

Some will take Nadal’s defeat as eloquent testimony to sport’s infinite capacity to spring surprises, to keep us guessing, to ravish us with its glorious capriciousness. And there is something in that. But Nadal took a different lesson, a subtler lesson, dare I say it, a more philosophical lesson. In his defeat, Nadal told us that he had glimpsed the meaning of victory.

It was a crowded press conference after the match. Neil Harman, the tennis correspondent of The Times (a man who, if you ask me, has one of the most wondrous jobs on the planet), wrote that it was stuffy and airless, the room so full of people and curiosity, so weighed down with disbelief, that it was difficult to breathe. Nadal came in with his boyish face and sculpted biceps and, sensing the tumult, raised an eyebrow.

Then came his quote, one of the more revelatory to emerge from a post-match press conference, occasions that typically incubate soulless banalities: “Defeats never make you grow, but you also realise how difficult what I achieved up until today was, and this is something you need sometimes. You need a defeat to give the value to your victories.”

(patzin posted this in the comments area and johanne sent it in via the contact form – thanks to both of you.)

17 Responses

  1. CC says:

    Yeah, this is great! I like it that The Times are always behind Rafa, AND write some decent stuff. They kind of know what they are talking about.

    Hey, miri, just checked today’s order of play at RG and saw that Mats Wilander is playing doubles against Johnny Mac in the over 45’s. What a great game that’ll be!

  2. tiemyshoe says:

    What a fab article! It’s every bit what all of us need to hear, I think. I’ve not read any RG press this week, so I would’ve missed it. Thanks patzin.

    It sucks, this loss, and there’s no doubt Rafa would’ve preferred to win. But just imagine – next year when he steps onto Court Philippe Chatrier, it’ll be a clean slate. That’s got to help him have fun at that tournament again, instead of being there just dealing with crushing pressure.

  3. vamsi says:

    thats what makes rafa a great champion
    man how can he be so positive always
    why cant we take it that way
    with or without the trophy he is the best!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. rebel naughty says:

    I’m in tears just reading this. Its taken me so long to read anything after the loss because it was too devastating. But to read this… well, it reminds me why I support Rafa. Its not just the winning but the passion and the spirit with which he accepts his wins and losses. I’m so proud of him.

    I was there at the French Open, watching him play in the first round. The most shocking thing was the lack of support he got. All around me, people were cheering on Daniels. Sometimes, a lot of the time, my clapping was the only sound for rows and rows of seats if he won a point.

    I was hoping I would write more while I was there but well, it was crowded and not that fun, actually. The best part though, this being my first tennis tournament and all: while I was lining up outside Roland Garros to validate my e-tickets, the first sight of a human being on a tennis court was RAFA. There he was in the last practice court, taking a break and I happened to catch a glimpse through those things they cover the fences with.

    That and my husband buying black market tickets so I could watch Rafa play…. were the best gifts of my little holiday. BTW, the crowd are totally into Federer… and I must say, I hope he beats that SOD.

    • nic says:

      oh lucky you, got to see him in the flesh! :)
      so you really felt the lack of support being right there yourself. that’s such a shame. i just don’t get it. he’s such an amazing champ to get behind, and so exciting to watch. what is wrong with them?! really, think losing the match was tough for him, but it was the lack of support that really broke his heart i think. it’s obvious toni reacted that way to the press because he must have seen rafa saddened by it. anyway, i’m so glad the people at the times really respect him and give him lotsa love all the time. hope the UK is more appreciative of rafa in upcoming matches.

    • vamsi says:

      you are so lucky to have seen rafa play live
      thats amazing
      i hope u got some autograph or photo so u can cherish the moment

  5. loverafa4ever says:

    So true… thats our Rafa! the true Champion…

  6. Josh says:

    I think one of the main problems that Rafa faced this year was simply too much commitment. I mean I know Federer has been endorsements and all for the past 4 years but Nadal now being Number 1 has got lots more commitments than ever before.

    Whenever I went on the official Rafa site all i could read was “Rafa has a busy day today with press commitments, practice, endorsement stuff” and a whole other range of commitments and I just felt like Rafa never got anytime for himself. Maybe that contributed to his defeat, and I am not trying to make excuses but it just seems like Rafa doesn’t seem to get much time left for Rafa now, even on his blog he mentioned how much stuff he was doing.

    Maybe this unexpected week off will allow him a tennis and press free week that he so deserves.

  7. johanne says:

    “Defeats never make you grow, but you also realise how difficult what I achieved up until today was, and this is something you need sometimes. You need a defeat to give the value to your victories.”

    Rafa is wise beyond his years. What an amazing champion. Rafa is THE BEST!

  8. faecoleman says:

    Oh dear dear Rafa, amazing isn’t he? there really is no other champion like him, I too am hoping to go to Wimbeldon this year and hope to catch Rafa on the practice courts, would mean everything to see him in the flesh! a friend of mine was allowed down @ queens to meet him, she was totally beside herself, I was soo jealous but if I get to at least see him it will be awsome and nice to share my experience with others who have had the pleasure also!

    • dutchgirl says:

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, faecoleman. I know how thrilled I was to notice him all of a sudden on a practice court in Rotterdam (and later on see him play a match as well), I hope you get to see him!

  9. natch says:

    I swear, Miri, every time I look at this headline, I read, “Rafa finds deep meaning in “Deep Throat” and I get so excited and my mind wanders back to Linda Lovelace (RIP)…

  10. AnaR says:

    You can see here the exquisite treatment, respect and admiration of the British press to our golden boy .. nothing to do with the French press that tells him directly, without subterfuge that the French want that Rafa loses. I sincerely believe that the British would never do this .. is too blatant.

  11. dutchgirl says:

    I’ve read the full article and there were tears in my eyes as I did. Great one!

  12. dapxin says:

    darn! the times link is dead. shame!
    anyone got a copy of the article. I need to read it now.

  13. Mim says:

    A complete gentleman and a true Champion. Vamos Rafa!