Given past history, I harbored no doubts that he would again play. After all, the tennis world has witnessed Rafa’s protracted struggle with seemingly his only real weakness, bum knees. But he’d always seemed to recover from those minor interruptions to resume an elite level of play within a reasonable time frame.
But this time it was different, very different.
After Lukas Rosol administered the most astounding bludgeoning in tennis history in first round of 2012 Wimbledon, Nadal was not only beaten, he was beaten down.
Nadal’s matches have often been likened to boxing in which he repeatedly delivers body blow after body blow until his opponent eventually succumbs. Not this time because…
The brawl with Rosol
ended in a knockout of Nadal.
As though the loss itself was not stunning enough, in short order we were informed that Nadal would not play the 2012 U S Open, the final slam of the year.
Truly troublesome news.
The final bit of unsettling information from the Nadal camp was that he would not participate in the Olympic games, for which he of course would have been highly regarded as a prime contender for Olympic gold. Additionally, he had been selected to be the flag bearer for Spain.
Given the enormity of the occasion, had I not seen him make that announcement in a press conference, I might have assumed him dead, recovering from knee replacement surgery, or in a depressive funk from which emergence even with psychiatric assistance was impossible.
Those cumulative series of events following the injury led me to believe it would be a very long time before we saw a top flight Rafa again, if ever.
I was wrong.
So how is it that Rafael Nadal, after a seven month injury induced hiatus, has been able to make such a mind boggling comeback in such a short period of time?
How the “holy hell” has he gotten to the finals of four straight tournaments, winning the last three, the latest being the BNP Paribas at Indian Wells on hard courts?
It’s not a rhetorical question. There is an answer. I just don’t happen to know it.
For the sake of discussion, I think we can safely say that Nadal is human. Lord knows he’s demonstrated that in quirkiness alone. What, with the water bottle alignment stuff, the incessant disengagement of a real or imagined wedgie before beginning each point, the three-point face ritual from left to nose to right before serving, etc.
You get my drift. He’s one of us, a real person complete with all the weird stuff that distinguishes us as individuals.
But for all his quirks, his extraordinarily physical style of play which some choose to view as “brutish,” Nadal is an intellectual, highly introspective realist who apparently is imbued with more than ample fortitude.
and does not quit.
I think that attitude along with an intellectual approach to career management and the ability to focus at a prodigiously high level for extended periods, coalesced into the perfect milieu for Nadal’s miraculous return.
That’s my opinion, the best I can come up with.
How do you see it?
One thing I know for sure…