RafaLint: January 29th

Today’s recommended reading:
Everything You Can Imagine – by Steve Tignor (tennis.com)

When Federer plays Nadal, Federer’s fans ask, “Why isn’t he more aggressive? Why doesn’t he do this, or that, or something else?” It looks like he should be winning. When Nadal plays Djokovic, Nadal’s fans ask the same exasperated questions. It’s not so easy. Djokovic hits with deceptive weight and accuracy, and he’s better than anyone at forcing Nadal to hit his backhand. He’s always going to have the advantage when he does that. When Nadal plays Federer, he can play his game, while his opponent must find a solution. When Nadal plays Djokovic, the roles are reversed. It’s Nole’s who’s comfortable, and Rafa who’s searching.

True. Against Fed, Rafa has a game plan that is comfortable, natural and works. Against Nole, Rafa doesn’t have a game plan that is comfortable, natural, and works. He has to feel confident enough to go out of his comfort zone.

I felt bad for Rafa as he shook hands with Djokovic. I wondered how he would get that missed pass out of his mind. I wondered if he would break down in tears on the trophy stand.

We got none of that. What we got instead were words that spoke to why you play the sport in the first place—for matches like this, even when you lose them. In my favorite moment of the evening, Rafa raised and shook his second-place plate with a sad pride.

“When you are with passion for the game,” Nadal said, “when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?”

But it isn’t just a feeling you have on a tennis court, and it isn’t something, in Rafa’s mind, that only star athletes can understand. It’s there for anyone who wants to try for something greater.

And it is that spirit, that ability to keep going on despite the odds, pain, and tough opposition while actually enjoying it that makes me admire people. I’m a wuss. I tend to flee as soon as things get difficult. I honestly can’t imagine seeing a huge challenge and getting excited about tackling it. These guys shame me and make me want to be a better person.




Finally, some additional presser pictures:

Photos by AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill and REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

16 Responses

  1. Aini says:

    Thanks for all the photos..I woke up today still feeling so sad for Rafa’s loss..Hope he gets over it and start anew..long season to go..

  2. rafanatica says:

    I think Rafa is fine. It always amazes me how level-headed he is, how he’s able to keep things in perspective. We can all learn a thing or two from him.

    • Aini says:

      Yes true..we all should learn from Rafa..his Amazing fighting spirit, humility, graciousness in defeat is exemplary

  3. Silhouette says:

    I only dared to read Tignor’s piece. Maybe I’ll come back and read in late Feb when I’m desperate for some Rafa articles.
    “I’m a wuss. I tend to flee as soon as things get difficult. I honestly can’t imagine seeing a huge challenge and getting excited about tackling it. These guys shame me and make me want to be a better person.”
    I definitely could learn from Rafa, the way he played with so heart and courage. I was telling my husband in the 4th set that if I were Rafa, I definitely would have just given up and tanked and get the hell out of Rod Laver ASAP. The way Rafa fought and fought is enough to bring tears to my eyes. Such a brave man. Enough said.

  4. Emma says:

    that’s why it pains us so much to see him fight and be disappointed again. that’s why we desperately want him to do well, correct his weaknesses and stand at the baseline and come nearer to receive second serves. cos we know he tries so hard and we can’t bear to see him disappointed.. so we may sometimes sound harsh and inconsiderate and unappreciative of his efforts but it’s cos we love him too much and don’t want him to suffer again when he loses another time.
    but now i feel at peace – i think rafa will figure everything out by himself sooner or later and let’s just be with him during this whole process.

    • Patricia says:

      Well said Emma – right on the button x

    • patzin says:

      “Let’s just be with him during the whole process.” We can trust him to know; he has the motivation for sure.

      Wonderful words and my sentiments exactly.

  5. Julie says:

    Thanks for the presser photos. I am always struck by the beauty of Rafa’s hands.

  6. wenche says:

    I am still feeling sad for Rafa`s loss. It was so close. I simply want to give him a big hug and tell him that we all love him.
    Rafa millions of hearts are with you even when you lost! We will always be with you! You will always be our no. 1! Siempre seras mi numero uno Rafa!

  7. Shake says:

    Cheer up guys. Rafa is the class act on the tour right now. Losing at the highest level of any sport is difficult but for what it is worth, Rafa has cemented his legacy after yesterday’s match. He is a like a bull-fighter and will never give up and or give in no matter the outcome. To me, he’ll go down as great as fighter as Pancho Gonzales or Jimmy Connors. I think the pressure is off Rafa and he will now play a little looser and freer throughout his career. Who knows if he’ll ever get back to the top but this has never been his motivation to play tennis anyway. Rafa can play at peace knowing that he’s given every ounce of his being to this endeavor. There is a lesson here for all us and transcends sport. He has shown the way to giving your all at anything you attempt without ever having expectations of getting anything in return except the blood, sweat and tears that go with it and the feeling that you did your absolute best.

  8. Mari says:

    Rafa is a credit to his country, the perfect warrior, courage, humble to a fault and will be remember as one of the very best in tennis, people simply adore him.

  9. mafie says:

    Rafael Nadal couldn’t inspire me more than he does right now. I just told my friend that had it been a lesser mortal, like me, I would have thrown a fit and sat in my own little corner and weep. And stare on the wall for a while. A long while. That he can still see the positives from a heartbreaking loss (at least for me) is testament of his winning/fighting spirit. Lesser mortals could really learn a thing or two about life from him.

    Anyway, I read an article from Grantland (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7518166/the-epic-warfare-rafael-nadal-novak-djokovic-australian-open-final – I think Miri has shared this on her twitter), and I agree that Rafa brings the best out of all the players on tour. It says, “he plays like he’s fighting giants…. When Nadal falls behind, he turns the match into life and death.” That he says he’ll keep on fighting makes me want to tell him “and we’ll fight with you.” In spirit of course, it would be very hard to play tennis with millions on court, heh (excuse my attempt at humor). I do believe that Rafa will solve Nole. He’s getting there.

    While I’m at it, I’d like you, guys, to know that this site is amazing. The fans that come here are the best. :)

    • miri says:

      Yep! it’s a great article. Was going to post it tonight. Been stuck in a conference all day.

    • Silhouette says:

      Thanks for the article. It is excellent! One takeaway, how Rafa comes back to fight and fight in most of his matches. That is so very precious. I think what this means for Djokovic is that, he has to prepare to ‘suffer’ time and again if he wants to beat Rafa because Rafa is ,oh so ready to suffer. That is a challenge mentally, no? Hopefully to Rafa’s advantage!

      And i think we are definitely in the golden era of tennis now. So little yet so much separating the top 4. And the difference in the the top 4 and the rest of the field.

  10. Oliver Matar says:

    Rafa’s demeanor on and off the court during the AO final is nothing less than exemplary! On court he fought like a lion. Off court, his behavior gave new dimensions to the word “gracious”! Especially once he refused to blame his loss to the now famous missed easy backhand passing shot when he was up 4/2 (30/15) in the 5th set. He reminded the press that he was also on the verge of loosing when he was down 3/4 (0/40) in the 4th set. This is classy at the core!
    He played extremely well baring in mind that hard courts favour his opponent who is currently the best player in the World by a good margin. Rafa gave himself real chances to win.

    It’s true that Rafa lost the AO title, however he won the admiration of all tennis world starting by Novak’s respect. I second what the AO Tournament Director said at trophy ceremony “Rafa you walk out as a winner”

    Although is only 25 years old, Rafa has become a role model on how to behave in life. He walks the talk when he says ” I try my best at every moment”. This is what really counts! I’d like my children to learn from people like him.

    For Rafa fans, I say, cheer up! In case he plays at Roland Garros and Wimbledon the same way he played in the AO, it is highly probable that he will capture one or two of those majors.

    Vamos Rafa!

  11. tariq says: