Saturday, 28 January 2017

Rafael Nadal Unveils His Depthless Leagues Of Hunger

Rafael Nadal

When I played Connors, I’d look at him and think: am I trying as hard as this guy?” John McEnroe recalled as he watched Rafael Nadal in the midst of one of his rhapsodic furies at the Australian Open.

This was on Friday morning and like everyone else in the Rod Laver arena, McEnroe gave the impression of a fan whose nerves were frazzled by what was unfolding before his eyes.

Long before it ended, it was clear that Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov were locked into one of the best tennis matches ever played. Sometimes, when tennis takes the mood; when two of its stars go supernova, then all other ball sports just seem like huff and puff in comparison.

Already, the play had to be halted a critical point of the third set when a fan collapsed in the crowd. McEnroe sounded concerned but not entirely surprised; even the millions of fans around the world could sense that the mood in the arena was unusual, the crowd was vividly gripped.

Nadal was trailing 5-4 and serving to stay in the set and both players visibly had the jitters as they waited for the medics do take care of the fallen fan, their legs shaking as they sat on their benches before they both began hitting air strokes just to burn off the nervous energy.

The reason, of course, that so much emotional freight had been invested in this semi-final is that Roger Federer had already made it through for to Sunday’s final and the spectators couldn’t really disguise the fact that they were aching for the unexpected, impossible gift of seeing Nadal versus Federer for what surely would be one last time in a Grand Slam final.

Federer has not won a Grand Slam title for five years, when he captured his eighth Wimbledon title. Nadal hasn’t lifted Grand Slam silverware since 2013.

Both men have spent months away from the circuit to try and fix machines – their bodies – that are slowly beginning to betray them. When pitched against each other they seemed to offer the perfect sporting contrast: Total Effort versus Total Effortlessness.



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.