CC sends in this Times Online op-ed by Matthew Syed about what being a sportsman means.
But there is something else about these two sportsmen beyond the belief that they play tennis from the heavens — they also happen to be jolly good blokes.
Now, I know that we have all seen politicians with smiley, back-slapping, baby-hugging, kitten-stroking public personas who have turned out, on closer inspection, to be odious charlatans. But in the case of Rafa and Roger, it is not just an image.
It turns out that pretty much all the people who know them best — journalists, practice partners, tournament organisers, even their fellow competitors — regard them as the kind of decent, warm-spirited, courteous, honest and sensitive human beings that they appear to be to the rest of us. To put it another way, two of the greatest players in history also happen to be men with values, perspective and morality.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I find this deeply gratifying. When I watch them I really do feel — alongside my admiration for their skill, finesse and competitiveness — a profound sense of gratitude that they are, first and foremost, honourable. Men who would rather lose than claim a dubious decision, men who would rather not play than behave disrespectfully towards their opponents, men who, in straining every sinew and mobilising every fibre in pursuit of success, understand that victory can only be judged in a wider, richer context.