Not watching much tennis for in recent days, not much of the Davis Cup Finals, even, that concluded last week with Spain lifting that title for the sixth time, the first time since 2000.
I definitely want to give a nice ovation to this team and their leader, not Sergi Bruguera although his competitive tennis IQ should be applauded, as well. I’m talking, of course, about my nemesis, Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera.
I have hinted at, if not offered more conciliatory discussion (see: concession), the fact that Rafa and his competitive desires and even athletic style remind me of me. I played and excelled in soccer at the collegiate level, even brandishing my hunger (and skills) at Queen Mary College of the University of London for a term. I was pretty good. My son just made his varsity high school team as a sophomore, a decent distinction, but relevant to note that this kid, my son, has a lot more skill than I had at that age.
But he does not have my hunger and desire to win, at all costs.
Watching Rafa, in a way (let’s not lose track of reality here) reminds me of how I like to approach sport.
So, indeed this criticism of mine (Nadalism and the like) seems pretty ironic (to me).
I just wanted to make sure to pen an appreciation of Rafa and this great run from this Spanish squad.
From Bruguera to RBA, to Feli Lopez and even the grinding and competent Carenno Busta (along with Granollers — not to leave anyone out), any tennis fan has to appreciate this team’s tennis, competitive desire and class.
Bautista Agut’s emotional win over Felix Auger-Aliassime after attending his father’s funeral (I think he started 2019 with an emotional run of tennis, at Doha if I’m not mistaken, even beating Djokovic in the process, securing a title, in the wake of a family illness or death) seems so typical RBA.
We’ve written about RBA at length, his class, his consistent BL game that harkens us back to the good old days when players (and people in general) seemed more apt to punch-the-clock, put-in a solid day at the office, and go home to be with loved one’s, with an old world modesty and sense of virtue or character in the bag.
How can we forget Roberto’s run at Wimbledon this year, the postponement of his wedding (or bachelor party) in the wake of his run to the Semi-finals. Great stuff continues to flow from this legendary athlete who probably won’t make many great chronicles of the sport (other than this blog).
We love Feli’s classy all-court tennis, and appreciate the grind of Busta, but we have to acknowledge the run from the real Spanish leader, coach and inspiration.
Rafa I’m told never got to bed before 3am during the string of DC ties that he needed to win for his team to advance. I hear one or two evenings he got to bed around 5am.
The indoor court, hard, dismissing the usual clay of Caja Mágica, does not play at all to the Spaniard’s game. No worries: he overcame. Winning, I try to tell my kid this, relates to heart as much or more than it does to skill. Nadal manifests this better than anyone.
Thinking Novak might be in a position to lead his team to the DC title (he seemed motivated, etc.) yet watching Nadal come-out on top, despite the aforementioned playing conditions, invoked a pretty clear thought in my head, that I’ve had many time before with regards to this Spanish great: the guy is a winner. I know that seems too obvious.
But that’s seemingly all he does, again, despite what I prospect and raise to my mantle of tennis discourse on the regular, throughout the year. His playing style makes me queasy, but his style of overcoming odds and winning so consistently despite what are clearly skill deficiencies is actually the greatest skill one can have, in the end.
Sure I will have more to say about this as I chronicle this love/hate relationship with one of the sport’s GOATS.