The thing I found most remarkable is the Wimbledon locker room, which the players share. I played middle school basketball, and we wouldn’t prepare in the same room as the opposition. These guys were in the fifth set of a Grand Slam final, with the rule of the sport hanging in the balance, and during the rain delays they are both repairing to the same little room.
I just can’t imagine being stuck in the same room in the middle of all that…drama, you know? I mean, I’m sure their teams circled around them to help form a buffer, but I can’t fathom how odd that is.
In the first rain delay Nadal was up two sets to love, and his uncle, Toni Nadal — who is also his coach — basically says, “You’re up two sets to love. What do you need me for?” Then he actually took a nap in the locker room. [During] the second rain delay, in the fifth set, Uncle Toni is giving Nadal a pep talk, and Nadal interrupts him and says, “Look, don’t worry. I won the first and second sets — I can win the final one.”
Good thing it doesn’t weird out the Nadals to be in that situation.
There were a thousand individual memories — a tidy little package of what we like about sports. But there was one moment at the end, after the trophy presentation, when Federer and Nadal were circling the court in opposite directions with their trophies. And the place was dark but for everyone’s camera flashes. Federer had his runner-up trophy — which was jarring in itself — and they had been fighting and battling, and they pass each other and sort of spontaneously they slap each other a high-five. It was a simple but unrehearsed gesture that for some reason I found so touching.
*pssst – they’ve done something very similar in other years at the exact same tournament.