The power and the glory [Updated]

Photo by James Dimmock

Photo by James Dimmock

This article is basically a repeat of the one that Elizabeth Kaye wrote for Men’s Journal, but a bit has been added that ties it to the upcoming Wimbledon tournament.

To win big is to have much to lose, and everyone loses someday. Nadal has always said he knows he can lose any time that he steps on to the court, and now we know, if we ever doubted it, that he wasn’t kidding. That this day would come when and as it did breathes new life into the old term “cheap irony” given that the loss occurred two days after Nadal set the all-time record for consecutive wins at Roland Garros with his 31st straight victory, and that he lost to an inexplicably on-fire Robin Soderling, a 24-year-old journeyman who’d suffered a 6-1, 6-0 beat-down at Nadal’s hands weeks before, and was known chiefly for the startling viciousness with which he’d mocked Nadal when they played an attenuated five-day match at rain-drenched Wimbledon in 2007.

What occasioned the loss? All we know for sure is that, for whatever reason, Nadal’s calm – the quality he most values and requires on court and off – abandoned him. “At key moments,” he said after the match, “I couldn’t take the opportunity because I was losing my calm and I didn’t play well.”

So the stone has rolled back down the hill, but Nadal takes it as an opportunity to better his game. “I need to learn,” he said, “and you learn more when you lose than when you win. You need a defeat to give value to your victories.”

Photo by James Dimmock

Photo by James Dimmock


As the grass-court season begins, he’ll be out there trying his best, and cheering him on will be that diverse, ever-expanding throng who call themselves his fans: the young couple who named their son Rafa, the dozen teenagers, male and female, who each wear a T-shirt sporting a single letter which spells WE [hearts] RAFA NADAL, the older ladies yearning to get his autograph on their sun visors, the armies of kids with their Nike bandanas and lasso forehands, the posters from vamosbrigade.com, where fans worldwide worry when he loses weight and rejoice when he wins. These are the people who adore Nadal, first and foremost for his spirit and second, for his game. In defeat, Nadal proved to them, and to everyone, what he could not show us in victory: that there is more than one way to be a champion.

Updated: I’ve updated this to include some scans that skyejaden found. I tried to clean them up the best I could. Note to people scanning from magazines or newspapers: put a piece of black construction paper behind the page you are scanning (prevents text from leaking through); use any and all moire filtering that your scanner offers. [/endPickyBitchRant]

20 Responses

  1. jimmy says:

    Thanks so much for posting! The feature on Men’s journal was one of the best I’ve read on Nadal. Glad it’s published in a mainstream paper. These are tough times for Rafa, but whatever happens, he’ll always be our champ!

    “”
    In defeat, Nadal proved to them, and to everyone, what he could not show us in victory: that there is more than one way to be a champion.

    “”

  2. loverafa4ever says:

    awesome… its alwayz nice to read such articles when there is no new new abt our hero.

    Now we knw the reason why he was loosing his calm in dat match… coz of his knee. I hope Rafa restores his colm before Wimbledon.

  3. CC says:

    I love this article, beautifully written and such a celebration of everything that is Rafa.

    “Nadal’s golden-umber skin, deep-set inky eyes and prominent cheekbones evoke 19th-century paintings of Mayan chiefs”
    That’s exactly how I felt when I first saw him play, which I think was Wimbly 2006. I was so sure he was South American/Native American.

    • loverafa4ever says:

      He does look like a Native American, his features, esp his face and the long hair he had.

  4. Trish says:

    ” …that there is more than one way to be a champion.”

    Love that line too and I am with you CC — there were times when I thought he could be Native American.

  5. killian says:

    Thanks for posting this, Miri! Great article about a great champion. Missed your witty comments/clarifications/kudos; your additions always make good even better! :D

  6. faecoleman says:

    What a great article when I’m missing Rafa! love the bit ” that there is more than one way to be a champion’ fantastic, thanx Miri.

  7. June says:

    Yes, I agree & thanks oh so much Miri for this one again. You are wonderful putting together your posts on your site. I didn’t know if anyone saw this article recently. I think it really says a lot about our RAFA. Whenever his tennis playing days are over (not soon I hope) but he will go down in history I believe & leave a legacy of his being a very humble champion!

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-media1-2009jun01,0,4168871.story

  8. johanne says:

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but I am feeling oddly chilled out about Wimbledon. I say oddly because I was soooooo incredibly nervous before RG. Assuming Rafa plays (I get the sense he will) I think I will just be so happy to see him on the court, that his presence alone will be enough to make me smile. Of course I always want to see him do well, but whatever happens, happens. Rafa will always be a force in every tournament he enters. He has brought so much to the sport of tennis and has so much to look forward to. VAMOS!

  9. johanne says:

    Oooh I really like that cover photo. Rafa looks great and that quote is totally the best. Thanks for scanning!

    • CC says:

      Oh…I could write an essay about that cover picture!
      It’s such a great pic.
      Love the expression on his face and the hair. Looove his beautiful arms(I mean, OMG) and the biiig hands holding those suddenly very teeny looking tennis balls. Love the jeans and t-shirt. The rolled up sleeves and the fact that the t-shirt looks scruffy and creased, makes it all…very sexy.
      *sighs*

  10. loverafa4ever says:

    “Be calm.. I am goin 2 win”

    What is he talking abt?

    • johanne says:

      That is what Rafa said to Toni in the locker room during the rain delay in the 5th set at the Wimbledon final last year.

      • loverafa4ever says:

        Oh…k… wow! datz showing how confident he was den.. which he probably lacked in the 2007 Wimbledon… I hope he keep up this confidence in Wimbledon this year… Or at USO (if he is not playing Wimbledon)

  11. faecoleman says:

    I guess the “Be calm” bit is from Rafa because he said in the RG match against the sod that he was not calm and this was why he could not take his chances (in other words focus), so therefore he probably feels if he is “with calm” he will win…. (oh if only!) this is what I! think he means anyway. Just love Rafa’s opptimism. Just love Rafa!

  12. tiemyshoe says:

    THOSE PICTURES. THANK YOU GOD.

    I realize I still think of Rafa as boyish when I saw photos of him like the first one and go GUH anew. He’s actually giving some decent ‘come hither’ right there. He’s getting better at the sexiness business. And the body, I gotta say, is lean and mean. Omnom.

  13. Atch2 says:

    Rafa is so so so so gorgeous. I love that he is so easygoing and natural.
    And you guys are really tame about your comments here. I’m a bit surprised. Where’s natch?

  14. faecoleman says:

    Sorry forgot to mention it, (how gorgeous Rafa is bit I mean), but nowadays he usually does, especially in the kind of tops that show his muscle definition, is there a more beautiful body on this planet? na no way!

  15. June says:

    Oh, mama mia, here I go again. Yeah, I wonder too what comments Natch would have to say about this pic ;-) It’s raining here where I’m at, so this is nice to look at for a Monday being at work.

  16. AnaR says:

    OMG! I didn’t see this interview before! I have put it again this interview I think. I’m sorry.