Rafael Nadal: The king is back!
June 28, 2012, proved to be the most significant date in the life of Lukas Rosol. He not only beat Nadal in Wimbeldon but rather pulled off the biggest upset in sport, for the last decade.
Nadal’s mind blowing accomplishments on Clay sometimes take the spotlight off what he has achieved on other surfaces. Six finals at Wimbeldon, two final appearances each in Australian Open and US Open respectively take some doing.
Thus, Rosol not only beat a great player that day, he actually beat a legend.
Nadal did not play another competitive match again for seven months. His long standing battle against his very own troublesome knees finally took its toll.
It’s not the amount of success that defines a champion, rather the reaction to adversity that differentiates the very good from the great. Nothing can be worse in an athlete’s life than not being able to compete. Nadal stared this very demon in the eye. Only God knows how he must have felt getting up every morning knowing that he won’t be able to do what he had trained his mind, body and soul to do for the last 20 years - the ability to compete.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
This may sound mythical and the story of fairy tales, but nothing is more inspirational than to see such a miracle happen in real life.
Nadal’s comeback story is nothing short of a miracle.
When he pulled out of the US Open in August critics raised their voices. His absence from the World Series Finals in London raised more questions. Then came the Australian Open in January, but Nadal was nowhere to be seen. Even the most ardent of fans feared the worst. He is not coming back they said. He won’t be the same player they said.
Thankfully Nadal was not listening. In February, Nadal took his first tentative steps, back in action. A doubles match victory was encouraging, but the world waited cautiously. Then came the loss at the hands of little known Horacio Zeballos at the Chile Open final.
Nadal’s movement on the court was just not the same.
The forehand lacked penetration, backhand was littered with errors and serve was far too easy to read. However Nadal was gracious in defeat, and never stopped believing.
Wins at the Brazil Open raised hopes. We saw shades of Nadal’s brilliance when he demolished fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer to win the Mexican Open. However even a casual observer could tell, Nadal was not at his best. The most optimistic of pundits did not rate him as a favourite at Indian Wells, not even close. However his recent performances at that event brought the rest of the field back to earth.
Victories against his long-time rival Federer brought back old memories.
He was at his most brilliant squash buckling best in the final to defeat the hard hitting Del Potro to win his 23rd Masters 1000 event; a feat unmatched in the history of tennis.
As the European Clay Court season approaches, there is only one news in tennis circles these days; the king is back, and beware he is on Clay.
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