What do you do against a player who has defeated you 3 times in the GS since last year, who has taken away the World No.1 ranking from you, more than that who has owned you mentally?
You challenge him on your own turf daring him to do the unthinkable…You are ready for the challenge, you have put in hours and hours of work daily to improve your game, you are ready for the moment, you are ready to reverse the table.. But can you?
Yes, because we are talking about the Wall here…the player who is mentally the toughest competitor out there…the player who is the greatest clay court player in the world….
53-1, 5 sets dropped till date, 7 French Open titles…something not even the greatest players like Bjorg, Laver, Federer has been able to achieve… Ladies and Gentleman: That’s Rafael Nadal for you!
Rain Delays, heavier balls, nerves, nothing could stop this warrior who is also one of the nicest guys on the tour, to claim his 7th French Open title. When he first won his French Open in 05, no one had thought that this 19 year kid from Majorca would surpass the record of Bjorn Borg in a matter of just 8 years.
Both Nadal and Djokovic were running for a place in the history, one trying to win his 7th French Open title trying to cement his status as the greatest clay court player, the other trying to be the seventh player to win a career grand slam.
The match was pretty interesting with Nadal coming out yesterday in ominous form and winning the first two sets comfortably. But then mother nature interrupted and Djokovic won 8 straight games (first time someone has ever been able to do that against Rafa on clay court and the only human element shown till now by Nadal on this surface). And then again play was called off to be resumed the next day. And when it did, Nadal came out playing with the same intensity that he has always been known for. It was just 10-15 minutes in the game and the question in everyone’s mind was: will Djokovic even be able to keep his own serve leave apart the thought of the next set?
The final scoreline was 6-4,6-3,2-6,7-5 with Djokovic committing a double fault on match point. To be fair to Djokovic, he played good tennis but against Nadal on clay court, good, great are not enough. You have to be at an exceptionally high level to beat this guy on his own turf (which makes Soderling victory even more special). In the words of a commentator when Nadal won his 11th GS equaling Borg and Laver : "This is the best marriage one will ever see between a player and this court!"
Nadal once again proved to all of us that it is the human will which defines the realm of our goals. Things thought impossible are only so because of the limits of our imagination. I have always believed in this one line: If one man can do it so can you! But Nadal today has redefined it: If one man has done it, I can do even better!
And with Nadal winning today after what he went through last year: Only one quote comes in my mind:
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."