More man than machine

Photo by BEN STANSALL/ AFP/ Getty Images

Photo by BEN STANSALL/ AFP/ Getty Images has a report on the Wawrinka exhibition.

The theories among the stands covered the full spectrum of possibility. He failed to register a point on Wawrinka’s serve in the first game – there’s no way he’ll be at Wimbledon! He then held serve to 15 – of course he’ll be there! Every flex and grimace, every bludgeoned drive and fluffed drop-shot, every glance to Toni and Benito in the courtside player’s box – everything was a sign.

The crowd were so intent on pseudo-analysing the world No.1 that the match became an afterthought, with only a handful of cat-calls and shouts of support for both Nadal and Wawrinka coming from the stands.

The mood most of been very tense and weird.

After saving set point at 6-5 on the Wawrinka serve with a sublime forehand return down the line, Nadal was two points from the match and very much in the rally at 6-6, when he sliced a backhand lob above Wawrinka and rushed the net. Wawrinka recovered, swivelled and hit a looping cross-court forehand that Nadal left.

The ball landed at the junction of baseline and tramline. Nadal looked round in amazement, his shoulders dropped, and afforded himself a smile.

It was then that we should have known the game was up.

*sigh* yeah.

The smile was undoubtedly a flash of relief. The relief of recognising that the world will not stop spinning if he doesn’t play the game. The relief of a man who probably accepted before he stepped on the court on Friday that Wimbledon was beyond him. The relief that soon he can do what it seemed he’d never need to, and rest.

And perhaps relief that he’d known he’d made the right decision and that, while tough, it was one he could live with.

61 Responses

  1. nic says:

    Absolutely spot on Miri, a decision that Rafa knew he could live with. Like he said, there was no option. And seeing him in the pressers speaking with calm and just seeming so centred, feels like Rafa already knew before Friday’s match that he couldn’t play Wimby. Imagine, right now Rafa is already back in Majorca resting, and trying to get on with life after finally making that decision.
    *Sending healing thoughts to Rafa*

    • CC says:

      I think he knew before he went to London that he was going to have to pull out, but being the competitor he is, he wanted to show everyone that he’d done his best to try… And of course he wanted to pull out and apologise in person!
      He’s such a good, good man.

      • nic says:

        Absolutely CC, you’re right, he probably wanted to do it in person to some extent. But I also think that Rafa wanted to be able to physically go to Wimby, be there at the club, in this year that he is the defending champ, and just BE. To feel what it’s like to be a part of it, practice with everyone, walk the grounds, and remember how it felt one year ago. Then to just confirm what he already knew in his heart, by playing the exhibition. For peace of mind I guess. What a tough man he is. Think it really shows how he came there as a fighter, and left with his head held high. Indeed, what a good, good man.

      • johanne says:

        “And of course he wanted to pull out and apologise in person!”

        I can’t helping thinking dirty on this one.


        Apology accepted, Rafa. ;)

        On a more serious note, CC, I think the efforts he made in trying his best to recover and prepare well for Wimby have shown that the passion is indeed still there!!

        • nic says:


          johanne! hehe.

          oh yes, rafa was absolutely certain he’s gonna come back guns blazing!

          vamos rafa!!! vamos.

          • johanne says:

            Good to know you laughed too, lol. ;)

            Tough moment for lovely Rafa but I’m sure there will be many more great moments to come. In the meantime I will definitely miss watching him play. The withdrawal symptoms are seriously bad! Already!

            • nic says:

              i know! look how much we’re going on about it here. it’s obvious we’re all still dealing with it. thank goodness we’ve got each other here to commiserate. would be way tougher if we couldn’t express all these things running through our mind. man, i am so gonna miss him too. and i bought a darn dvr before french open so that i could tape all of rafa in action and at wimby. now it’s just sitting there with no purpose in life. it’s like it should be put out of its misery with no worthy footage to record.

              • nic says:

                btw was looking at some pics of hurlingham and saw this one:

                so cute!!! it’s rafa’s wimby shoe. with the purple swoosh. noticed how they put that little flame on the side of the shoe to indicate his one wimby title. just like they did with his RG shoes with the 4 flames. just looks so adorable. what a same he couldn’t add to it this year. poor honey. nvm, many more chances to come.

                • johanne says:

                  “i know! look how much we’re going on about it here. it’s obvious we’re all still dealing with it. thank goodness we’ve got each other here to commiserate.”

                  Seriously. This is like Rafatherapy or something. And I soooooo need it right now! :)

                  Ugh, sorry about your recent dvr purchase gone awry. Bad timing, just like Rafa’s injury. *shakes fist*

                  The shoe & the flame are both so cute! Agree it’s a shame he didn’t get a chance to add another tiny flame, but I’m still so happy Rafa was able to win Wimbledon last year, his dream title. That is def helping me feel less sad. He has his title. Even though this year sucks, he has his title. :)

                • dutchgirl says:

                  That pic just is touching. To see the one purple flame and knowing that he won’t be able to put anoter one up there this year.
                  But yeah, many more years to come, and I’m sure there will be more flames in the future!

        • CC says:

          “And of course he wanted to pull out and apologise in person!”

          Dirty?! Why!? ;)

          Heh, he’d never have to apologise to ME for pulling out of something. ;)

  2. loverafa4ever says:

    I like to believe that its all for the gud. Unbelievable things are waiting for him. Its basically to take some pressure off him and also to make him in better conditions before the USO. He is always tired before the USO after playing many matches. I think this time god wants him to be at his 300% for USO. He wants Rafa to win USO and complete the slam and he knows that if he allows Rafa to play at Wimbledon, he wudnt get the rest he needs. Gud decision Rafa. you will b happy later on for taking this decision.

  3. faecoleman says:

    Brave, remarkable Rafa!! he is soo wonderful I am going to miss him more than ever now after seeing him in his lovely outfit he looked soo handsome, so glad we got to see him a little bit. I hope his rehabilitation goes well and he come back all guns blazing as he seems to want to. If he could return to win the Us it would be fantastic for him, so glad he has done the right thing and is sure of his decision.

  4. johanne says:

    I just got really defensive when I read this part of the article:

    “The man-machine of 2008 set himself the most demanding of schedules, playing virtually every available Tour match, week on week. When he pulled out of the Masters Cup in November, it was clear that the regime had taken its toll.”

    Every available tour match? Ummmm, I don’t think so, Rafa doesn’t play any more tournaments than the average guy on the tour. In fact, if you look at the guys futher down in the rankings, they’re playing 5,6,7,8+ more tourneys than Rafa. You know why????? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WIN NEARLY AS MANY MATCHES AS RAFA!!! One of Rafa’s main “problems” is that he’s so good at winning! Seriously, he goes deep into so many tournaments that the tennis world freaks out when he gets dumped out in the quarterfinals (Miami, anyone?). Then they he’s tired and needs to rest, and when he rests he’s a pussy. I’m irritated by this! I think a few adjustments here and there and Rafa will be fine. By adjustments I mean maybe he drops 2 (or 3?) minor tourneys here & there, cuts down on exhos, and then pulls out of other tourneys with “exhaustion” or “injury” if need be. You cut much more of his schedule, and he’s breaking the ATP rules.


    • johanne says:

      anal grammar corrections:


      *Then they SAY he’s tired and needs to rest,…*

    • johanne says:

      OH and another “adjustment” could be that he starts losing more, so people get off his back.

      BLAH! >:/

    • miri says:

      I agree with one exception: he needs to not play a single optional event – especially if he’s going to say that the season is too long and requires him to play too many events.

      • johanne says:

        Agreed, and I think that could be applied to my “drops minor tourneys” adjustment. Unless you’re thinking about Monte Carlo, which I think Rafa should play that if it’s that close to his heart, BUT then he should for sure dump Madrid. Swap ’em out, you know what I mean? Obviously MC is way more important to him (at least that’s the impression I get).

        • loverafa4ever says:

          I think MC is very important to him as well. Coz he really fought for MC not to be made an optional tourney. And to skip Madrid he might have to cook up some stories of exhaustion or knee problems (I wud b surprised if he doesnt get exhausted by that time) rit… Otherwise ATP will penalize him. Is there any other 1000 series that is optional? Or is it just MC? They shud make a hard court of two optional. Thats the one dat really takes a toll on Rafa or any other player for that matter. Does neone knw wat is so special abt Rogers scheduling? Everybody talks abt it.

        • miri says:

          Yeah, and I know that wasn’t the main bit of your post – it was more about the hypocrisy in comments. People always bitch that he plays too much and says he should skip things he can’t. I hate it that the press says things like “he should skip yadda” without going into the penalties that would incur. They make it sounds like it’s a no-brainer to skip when, in reality, it can have big repercussions.

          And yes, someone should tell the tennishead guy that is actually impossible to play “every available Tour match” since many tournaments happen simultaneously. I do wonder, however at the wording: it didn’t say “tournament” it said “match” – was that a ham-handed way to say “because he always gets to the finals”? Or am I being too kind? ;)

          My schedule rant:
          Madrid is required and MC isn’t. MC isn’t a stupid “optional” however because it fills in for one of the required 500s, but can give him up to 1000 points – plus, like you said, he loves it. So, I would keep that. The one he needs to lose is the one his heart is tied to the most: Barcelona. That would hurt, but it’s the one that has him playing 3 weeks in a row. Lose that one and he has a week off between MC and Rome. If they would move Madrid to early in the year (switching it with MC or Rome), that would be perfect.

          He shouldn’t be playing any 250s – that means no Doha and no Thailand. Queens is a mixed thing – only a 250, but his only chance to play on grass before Wimbledon. I’m not sure he needs that pre-time as much as he used to though. He knows grass better now…and he could do the silly Hurlingham thing instead – less pressure and fewer matches.

          I would have switched Dubai for Rotterdam (sorry!) both give him one of his 500s, but the timing is better for Dubai and I think Rotterdam is played on carpet which is pure evil.

          Other than that, though, there isn’t a lot of flexibility on the tour unless you are willing to take penalties or “have an injury.”

          • johanne says:

            Yep I agree with all of what you’ve said. I wasn’t even thinking about MC technically fulfilling a 500 requirement, so that’s def a keeper (and a very nice opportunity for extra points). And I hear ya on Barca – that’s the biggest bitch decision for Rafa…that one will totally hurt. But it’s prob a smart move. I wonder if the fact that he now has his 5 in a row there, if he’ll consider dropping it?? 5 is a nice round number, LOL.

            How many 500s do they have to play? Interestingly enough, he didn’t even end up playing both Rotterdam & Dubai this year because he was injured! So yeah, play one or the other and you’re good. I’m guessing he played Rotterdam this year bc he was bounced so early last year. Playing for pride and for the fans, I imagine. He’ll have to decide what tourney he prefers – Dubai or Rotterdam? He’s won Dubai hasn’t he? But the Dutch are crazy nice to him. But that superfast court is NOT nice to his knees. Hmmmmm.

            Do you not have to play any 250s? I don’t even know. I’d leave Queen’s sorta up in the air for him… how tired are you from the French Open? How confident are you before Wimby? Decide after RG.

            Doha is probably to get some matches under his belt before AO. I would forgive him for that, considering it’s soooo early in the season, and you don’t want to show up at the AO without playing any competitive matches. But def NO Thailand late in the year. He needs to try and be as healthy as possible for the Masters Cup. Something tells me he wants to show up with good feelings at the year-end championships so he can win one! That would be lovely.

            Unfortunately, looks like Rafa will have to say “no” a few more times next year, and will have to sacrifice other tourneys with “injury” or “exhaustion” if he does well at too many other tourneys in a row. HA HA HA, look at us, thinking we know so much! ;) I think we’re onto something though. Let me talk to Rafa, Benito!!!

            • miri says:

              They have to play 4 500s and one has to be after the US Open – on Rafa’s schedule this year, that is the China Open. With Rotterdam, MC, Barcelona and the China Open, he’s right at his limit without going over. It’s just the timing of Barcelona that makes it suck for him. Also, timing-wise Dubai might be a smarter choice than Rotterdam. I know, however, that he really likes the guy who runs the Rotterdam tournament.

              I think he could skip Doha and do the less taxing Abu Dhabi exhibition to help him find his rhythm pre-AO.

              • loverafa4ever says:

                That is true… Abu Dhabi is definitely a better option coz its all abt getting some practice. And Queens is a gud tournament to get some prep before Wimbledon but as u said we dont’ knw if that tourney is required for Rafa to do well at Wimbly coz its jst a matter to adjusting from clay to grass.

                It is so nice that we are having dis discussion even when we know that nothing is really going to change unless Rafa and his team decides to. But its gud that we can share our thots. Usually I hear peole say that Rafa and his team knws what to do and knws wats best. That must be true/ or might not be true. But we can definitely discuss about what we think is rit. Just for fun and for our satisfaction… :)

              • Atch2 says:

                I’m from Thailand and was looking forward to seeing Rafa play here in Sept (bought tickets to 2007 but Rafa pulled out bec of injury), and I thought he planned to play here bec he was playing Shanghai and was in the region anyway. But seeing that Rafa needs rest btw tournaments, I would prefer Rafa skip Thailand and rest fully for Shanghai Masters.
                (But then playing Thailand, rest then play Shanghai would be better than China Open then Shanghai. I’m conflicted, forgive me).
                And pay a fine for missing Madrid if they don’t swap it with Rome. Serena said it’s about $75,000. Wish he missed it this yr, esp bec of the altitude and Ion Teriac and he needed the rest.

                • miri says:

                  As a ticket-holder to Montreal (as well as a pre-paid plane ticket and hotel room), I understand your conflict. :)

                  I know I’ve said this before – many times, but it’s not just a $ fine.

                  Q. What if a player is injured and can’t play in a Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament?
                  A. If eligible to play in one of the Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, a player must count the points from these tournaments, even if it is ‘a zero pointer’ because he missed the event. Just as in Formula One and numerous other sports, if a competitor misses a race or an event, he loses his chances to earn points. Players with direct acceptance who do not play an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament will be suspended from a subsequent ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event which will be the next highest point earned ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event within the next 12 months. If an injured player is on-site within the first three days of a tournament to conduct promotional activities over a two day period, a suspension will not be enforced but a 0-pointer will be counted on a player’s ranking.

                  They get no points for the tournament; they get suspended from another tournament. In short: they lose two tournaments.

                  • Atch2 says:

                    Man they are strict. I u/st now.
                    It hurts those players like Rafa who play well and go deep into the draw. And he always feels he has to give 100% even if his body is not up to it.

                  • nic says:

                    gosh, pretty complicated and sometimes confusing. does that mean that even if you are injured you have to go to a tourney to do promo for a few days so that you don’t get a suspension?? does the atp take injury THAT lightly?? like it’s incidental? so rafa still gets the fine too for missing wimby? geez so much pressure on the athletes to compete so heavily. arranging a player’s calendar is really a fine art, especially when you’re someone of rafa’s calibre who consistently goes deeper into tourneys than most others. tough stuff.

            • dutchgirl says:

              Being Dutch, I feel obliged to step in ;)
              Hell yeah, the Dutch like Rafa! So I’m hoping he likes us just as much so he’ll come back next year, and skip Dubai instead.
              And by the way: the court in Rotterdam isn’t carpet, miri. And johanee: this year the court was indeed very fast, but according to the tournament’s director, Richard Krajicek, this was due to a miscalculation in the paint and they’re gonna change that for next year’s tournament.

              So that you know… (ofcourse defending my change to see Rafa in real life again!)

              • An says:

                As another dutch-girl i would hate it if he skipped Rotterdam… But indeed its a very nasty hard-court and as i said it before the only thing i care about is Rafa!

                If its better for his healt and will keep him free off injury during the season, of course he should skipp Rotterdam.

                I only had to save more money and travel more to see my Rafa life. So be it!

              • miri says:

                No sympathies for the Dutch crowd! You have far many more wonderful tournaments much closer to you than I do in central Texas in the US! ;)

                Glad to hear that Rotterdam isn’t carpet. Thanks for clearing that up. I personally think that surface should be outlawed. Did it used to be carpet?

                • loverafa4ever says:

                  ATP is not using carpet surfaces anymore. They have stopped using it as of 2009.

                • dutchgirl says:

                  Not that I know of, and I’ve been following this tournament for many years now. In fact I think I saw John McEnroe play in the doubles there (OMG, that makes me realize I’m getting old…)

                • dutchgirl says:

                  And okay, miri, you need more sympathy than we do! I wish I’d win the lottery – I would take a year off and follow Rafa all around the world in all the tournaments he’d be in :))

          • jimmy says:

            And no davis cup plz. Switching from hard to clay and then back to hard is really asking for it.

            • miri says:

              Yeah – although the surface changes from tie to tie.

              • jimmy says:

                Right. Fed hasn’t played the Davis cup 1st phase since 2004. Nadal’s got to start being selfish.

            • johanne says:

              Agh Davis Cup…he loves playing for his country. I think he should play if it works with his schedule, but probably shouldn’t play EVERY tie. Spain has proven they CAN win without him, so maybe bring him in for some key match-ups, and then wait and see how they do. I don’t know.

              • miri says:

                See – this is where I can understand Rafa’s sticking by Barcy and other tournaments a bit. I LOVE Davis Cup and totally want to see more players involved…and not just in the final rounds where they stand a chance at some glory…but…yeah. There’s already too much on the schedule. *sigh* At least there’s always a chance he’d only be playing one match if things go really well.

                Thing is, I think DC helps his mental state more than it hurts his physical state. (Keeping in mind, of course, that I don’t know shit.) But I think he loves the team atmosphere and hanging out with the rest of the guys.

                • jimmy says:

                  Dunno about DC( davis cup) and Masters. Fed doesn’t do DC much, and Sampras also skipped DC all the time.

                  At the end of the day it’s just about the majors (grand slams). I don’t want Rafa to end up with 7 G.S and 30 Master shields and Fed to end up with 23 G.S and 15 masters.

                  • johanne says:

                    Fed doesn’t do DC because Switzerland doesn’t stand a chance. Sorry, but it’s true. Plus, Fed doesn’t strike me as very “team-oriented” if you know what I mean. Whereas Rafa loves that sort of environment and plays for a country who historically does well at DC. Personality differences and probable success heavily come into play there. But don’t get me wrong, I see your point. Just sayin’.

                    Masters Series (or 1000s whatever the hell they’re calling them these days) are technically required tourneys. That’s where we’re saying he’s going to have to come up with an excuse not to play every one of them, if he keeps being really consistently at all of them. He either needs to back out, or start sucking. I’d go with “back out.”

                    • loverafa4ever says:

                      Rafa really likes playing as a team and he luvs playing in his country in front of his people. Which is very understandable considering how much he luvs his people and how much it means to him. I was also wondering if he cud skip barcelona. But if they are required to play 4 500 series, and considering how much Rafa luvs to play there, I dont think he will skip it. The only option will be to say that he has “injury” and withdraw from Madrid. Nobody can question that decision because of the wonderful run he usually has on clay. Anybody wud b exhausted and tired and his tendinitis are gud enof reasons not to play.

                      They dont get penalized if they withdraw due to injury rit?

                  • gundu_nimmy says:

                    But shouldn’t that be rafa’s decision? if he loves playing for his country, shouldn’t he decide whether or not to play DC? (you’re right miri, I remember reading somewhere recently rafa mention that his passion for soccer lies in the fact that he gets to play for his country with his friends and fellow spaniards). At the end of his career rafa needs to be able to at peace with whatever choices he made, even if it means he ends up with less GS.

                    And why do we want him making similar choices to fed? One reason, I can’t bring myself to like fed inspite of his game is his attitude towards slams vs masters and DC. I am not saying fed is wrong to play the year he wants, it’s just rafa should make his own choices. maybe rafa thought he was young enough to pull the harder schedule;maybe he’ll rethink his future commitments.

                    • miri says:

                      Of course he should. We can all sit her and banter back and forth about what we think he should play and shouldn’t, but that doesn’t matter one iota. He has to do what feels right for him and what he can live with.

                  • Ch F says:

                    Indeed…grand slams count more in terms of points and public attention…if Rafa wants to be among the greatest he has to schedule better and prepare for these. Which I’m sure he knows already ;-)

                    • jimmy says:

                      We can argue till Kingdom come, but the fact remains that slams are the only thing that matters in tennis. That’s how greatness is measured in tennis. I’m sure Rafa knows that, and he seems to have learned a lesson the hard way: little bit of impetuosity cost him 2 slams.

                    • aRafaelite says:

                      But does Rafa play tennis to be the best in other people’s eyes? Or to be measured as the best by his success in grand slams? I don’t think so. I think he plays because he loves the game. Pure and simple. Sure, I want to reconsider his schedule to look after himself better, but I don’t want him to stop being Rafa. One of the things I most admire about him is that he loves to play, he loves to fight, he wants to know that he’s given it his best. I sense with Rafa more than any other player that winning is the outcome of playing his best, fighting the hardest, more than than the objective of playing the game. If he loses but has given everything he’s happy. He’s only unhappy when he knows he could have done better. I hope he never loses that, and plays for himself and his country with all of his heart, and doesn’t start picking and choosing his tourneys just to maintain his ranking or rewrite the history books. Slams are not the only thing that matter, and while some people may use them to measure greatness in tennis, they don’t define it.

                    • nic says:

                      aRafaelite, I love what you said about Rafa and his fighting spirit, and playing for the love of the game. That’s so true, it’s the essence of Rafa. And yes, he follows his heart very often in terms of his decisions, and wants to play all types of tourneys, not just the prestigious, not just the big ones, not just the ones that will be good for his ranking, but also for the little ones that could :), or the new ones that need his star attraction, or a place that is close to his heart. I LOVE that about Rafa. Unfortunately it can sometimes be his downfall, but at the same time, it’s what makes him special, and that he won’t change, no matter what. I just hope he’s able to balance all that out with looking after himself better for the rest of the year as well as for years to come.

                • faecoleman says:

                  I so agree with you on this Miri, he loves the team atmosphere at DC, he always plays well and is inspired by playing for his country. Also he gains confidence from this. Fine examples are his matches in Madrid bull ring last year @ altitude! and of course his Olympic gold, winning for spain means so much to Rafa, I really admire this in him, a true sign of a great sportsman.

          • loverafa4ever says:

            Actually making MC optional was a bad decision according to me. Because its the first clay court tournament after the first session of US hard courts. And most of the players who have got gud results/bad results will be willing to adapt to clay as soon a they can. They shud have made Madrid optional. First because the conditions are different from FO(if that is true) and its coming after 2 master series. Or they shud shuffle the schedule. Well thats not goin 2 help Rafa as he will anywayz play MC.

          • aRafaelite says:

            I agree – it’s Barcelona he needs to drop, but I don’t think he will – his sense of history and duty is too strong. Hopefully he’ll drop most of the other 250 tourneys (except Queen’s, which he needs for the adjustment to grass) and as many 500’s as he can afford. I was encouraged by what he said about the tendonitis not being chronic. Maybe if he allows himself to fully recover this year, we won’t need to have these discussions in future years?

    • CC says:


      That’s exactly what I try to tell people, but some people don’t seem to understand how good this guy is!!!

      • CC says:

        Sorry, Johanne, forgot to put “…” on your quote!

        • johanne says:

          No problem, girl! :)

          You know what really irritates me too? When the commentators say something like “Jeez, Rafa’s played more matches than anybody so far this year….he’s played almost 50 matches! Compare that to [name of some of other player] who’s only played around 35. Rafa needs to think about his schedule. He needs to slow down.”

          Ummmmmmm, maybe he’s played more matches beause he’s WON MORE MATCHES????!?! What the hell kind of logic is that?!?! It’s not like he sat down and thought about it and then CHOSE to play more matches…he won the damn matches so he moved onto the next round and then played another match!! If he starts losing earlier, then he’ll have played less matches!! DO THE MATH!!! And if he had played less matches, then you dumbass commentators would talking about how he’s had a crappy season because he’s losing pretty early and he’s playing less matches!!! So he better start winning some more matches so he can gain some confidence!!

          Whatever he does is wrong, I swear.

          My head is going to explode. ;)

          • CC says:

            I know, the commentators/journalists are just…hopeless.

            When I went home to Sweden just after Rafa had lost to Soderling it was just shocking for me to read and hear how unknowledgeable most of the press and people in general are there about Rafa and his achievements. However, just because he was beaten by a Swede, everyone was suddenly experts on Rafa’s careera and the state of his knees and confidence. I even heard people say “oh, that Spanish guy, he’s SO unsympathetic and horrible…him and Soderling are the worst enemies and…” Oh, it pissed me off so much.

            At least the press here in the UK know a bit more. But it’s still tiring to hear how they want to run Rafa’s careera for him.

  5. PistolPete says:

    Nadal hailed his nemesis as “still the greatest” and here lay a key reason why his withdrawal from this year’s tournament left such a void. Despite the ferocious forehands and piratical bandana, there was something ineffably gentle and endearing about the Spaniard; something very Wimbledon.

    He might have worn the meanest look of concentration during his epic contest with Federer but, his final winner unleashed, the mask slipped. The sights of him mock-biting the Challenge Cup, glad-handing the king of Spain in the royal box, and breaking into a smile that was almost beatific converted every neutral to his cause. Yes, he derailed Federer’s remorseless dominance but he was, indisputably, a people’s champion.

    It is a rather mixed metaphor that likens Wimbledon without Nadal to strawberries without cream, but you get the picture.


    • Atch2 says:

      Beautiful article. Captures our Rafa well.

      I like this bit
      “Federer also tried hard on Friday to sound pained, to roll out some robotic platitudes in sympathy, but when the loss of his principal rival has brought a sixth Wimbledon title several steps closer, it was a loss he could just about bear.”

      And we luv Murray, here talking abt Rafa
      “”Everyone would have liked to see him here,” Murray said. “I enjoy watching him play. He’s my favourite player, so I’m sure all the fans who wanted to come to see him will all be disappointed. But he has to do what is best for him.” “

      • jimmy says:

        Murray and Rafa are BFF. Murray also said that ” Rafa must be obviously in a lot of pain..”
        unlike another player (read Fed) who said Rafa’s injury did not look all that bad.
        Class from Andy Murray. He’s the one I’m supporting in the absence of Nadal.

        • loverafa4ever says:

          and fed even said this that he has played Rafa gud enof times and he knws wn he is playing in pain. (continuation of rafa’s injury not looking dat bad) I jst cant ever like this guy.

          • ava says:

            Good that you guys finally see Fed for the person he is. Their ‘friendship’ is mostly media hype. I know 100% Rafa will choode Nole and Muzz over Fed.

            Fed has always found a way to insult Rafa even while complementing him.