Gentlemen and players

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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.

7 Responses

  1. loverafa4ever says:

    This relationship dey share is really admirable. I was watching some of the on court interviews frm last years AO and Federer was saying that he likes to watch Rafa play more than playing against him. And Rafa is like I like to play as roger in video games coz then its impossible to loose. It is soo sweet, and they always have a lot of fun when they meet off court, or even after the match (if Fed wins otherwise he does his bit of sulk act). And I saw Jim couriers interview at CNN (an old interview) where he says that its not really possible to see this kind of relationship between top players in any sport.

    • faecoleman says:

      I prefer watching Rafa play than playing against him” wow did Roger really say that, I missed that one! Andy Murray voted Rafa his most favourite player to watch! (of course he is!)…

  2. nic says:

    I love this picture, Rafa just looks gracious and humble, warm and beautiful. Love to see pics of Rafa and Rog in a ‘moment’. Gosh I can’t wait to see Rafa again!!

  3. dutchgirl says:

    There definitely is something special between these two that is rarely seen in tennis. Despite Roger’s aspects we don’t like (at least, some of us), he and Rafa look great together. There’s so much respect between them, though I sometimes feel that Rafa has a little more respect for Roger than vice versa.
    Hope to see a lot more of it!

  4. kefuoe says:

    Articles like this make me wonder a little bit what other players must be like. I mean, is being decent, kind and polite really so noteworthy in the ATP? Kinda’ crazy.

  5. natch says:

    “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.”
    Straining sinews, mobilising fibres…succeeding in wider, richer…Suddenly, I’m very turned on…;)

  6. Ch F says:

    Thank you for this article…I read it all and it’s really interesting; so are some of the comments posted!! Good luck Rafa, come back and win it all :-)