He lost only 23 games in the first 3 rounds before being severely tested by Auger-Aliassime in 5 sets, but found a way to win. The quarter final against Djokovic was a spectacular battle with many changes of momentum and the beauty of the long deuce games were amongst the key moments of the match. Nadal managed to adapt to the slow conditions with the cooler temperatures and once again found a way to succeed. Novak has been one of the most resilient players in the history of the game but I felt that it was the even greater resilience of Nadal that pulled him through. You can talk tactics all you like but his mental strength to compete point for point no matter what the situation, is quite something to see. As many of the pundits were saying he has to be the greatest ever sporting competitor. It's difficult to measure across the sports but the scoring system in tennis is so brutal that you must have huge reserves of determination and perseverance to pull through in a best of 5 sets match against another mental giant like Novak!
I love Nadal not because he is such a great tennis player and a serial winner but mainly because of the way he handles himself both on and off the court. Never smashing a racket or disrespecting his opponent. Never taking any match for granted. If disagreeing with officials, always in a respectful manner. As a role model it would be hard to think of anyone better.
The last question in his Spanish press conference was "is it worth it, continuing to make so many sacrifices in order to continue his career?"
His answer was along the lines of:
"Sacrifices? Are you joking? I'm so privileged to be able to lead the life I lead, to train every day and to play tennis every day. I love it. No sacrifices!"
Tennis is a game and a great one at that, but we are so fortunate to have the GOAT (in my opinion) as someone with such a great perspective on life.
I love Swiatek too, but there will be plenty more opportunities to speak about her with such a wonderful career still ahead of her.
Clay Court Tennis
I have just finished reading a book by Paul McNamee (famous Oz player and partner of the late Peter McNamara) called "Welcome to the Dance" which is about his love of clay court tennis and why everyone should learn to play on the stuff. It's a great read and Mr McNamee really gets to the heart of the beauty of Italian and other European clubs as sanctuaries where we should pay homage to the beauty of clay and its benefits to our development of our tennis skills.
I quote from Mr McNamee:
" My contention is that the gateway to mastering tennis is mastering clay, because the deep insights you gain by unlocking the mysteries of clay are completely transferable to any other surface, whether hardcourt or grass, indoors or outdoors. The reverse is not true, and I'm talking about hardcourt in particular. Hardcourt is a great leveller, the great equaliser, where both fast and slow court exponents meet in the middle, but its predominant style, based on metronomic hitting, does not replicate the range of skills asked of a player on clay."
Why not join us in Florence on clay?
We might not be able to get you playing like Nadal or Swiatek but we can certainly have a lot of fun trying and help you to explore the joy of playing on a clay court at our lovely club in Florence