Friday, 20 August 2010

Rafael Nadal

Rafa is competing at Cincinnati and by the end of the month, at the US Open at Flushing Meadows. He's had a good run since Monaco, and hopes are high among his many fans that it will continue. One of the most interesting pieces of writing about Rafa's last couple of years is the one I'm going to quote here. Elizabeth Kaye wrote this as Wimbledon was starting off for 2010 and I hope she will be complimented that I wanted to reproduce it! She says:

"Now that we know to take nothing for granted... it's been a long year, in which he weathered what appeared to be an annihilating storm. There were the injuries, the subsequent time away from the game he was born to play. There was the crushing divorce of his parents, the pained withdrawal from Wimbledon, the days and weeks of recuperation when this most vital of beings was consigned to do nothing. These grim reversals must have taught him that every life has a point that distinguishes before from after. Before, he was the number one player in the world, seemingly invincible, and headed inexorably toward a fifth consecutive win at Roland Garros, a feat that had never been accomplished. Before, his home in Mallorca was his haven, and his reliance on his parents was so deeply rooted that when he was at home and they were out, he would sleep with the lights and the TV on. After, his haven was permanently disrupted and he was booed as he walked off the court at Roland Garros, having been defeated there for the first time, two days after setting a record of 31 consecutive match wins.

He handled that loss as well as any one possibly could. He was devastated, yet capable of summoning a hero's dignity. "You need a defeat," he said, "to give value to your victories."
In the six months that followed we watched him struggle. There were no trophies for him to bite. He beat only one top ten player and was run off the court by younger guys that he once would have dominated. In the process, his ranking sank to number 3, then number 4. Along the way, he lost the two things that his game most relied on: his sense of calm, and his confidence.
This grim passage was difficult to watch. He was mired in a conundrum: needful of a big win to restore his sense of self, but needing his sense of self to achieve a big win. Yet, despite the doubts he inevitably harbored, he recognized something that eluded most onlookers: that what would ultimately restore him was the struggle itself. Now, the struggle has roused him and he has played his way back to mastery.

Many of his fans are much older than he is, yet we always learn from him. Again and again, he's taught us that excellence springs from the insistence to keep on keeping on. He's shown us the transformative power of hard work and belief. He's convinced us that there is honor in the desire to improve and to strive. Now, as Wimbledon begins, he has resumed his place as his sport's toughest and most electrifying competitor who is beloved as much for his spirit as for his game.
To see him on the court, healthy, dynamic and vibrant, is to understand how much we need him and missed him."

Elizabeth Kaye.

Yeah! Here's hoping for a successful conclusion to his year. I think there are lessons in Rafa's struggle that we writers can take to our hearts and emulate in our own lives.

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