Superman’s outfit consisted of blue spandex-like attire, red shorts, red boots and with a big red “S” emblazoned on his chest. It was a helluva an outfit, befitting “Superman” the superhero.
Rafael Nadal should re-don the pirate pants (l liked em) and have a big appropriately colored “R,” not arrogantly suggestive of “Rafaman,” but rather of “Resilientman” on the chest of all his tennis shirts.
Just when pundits, fans, non-fans, hopeful rivals and outright haters think that because Rafa has lost a few matches, some surprisingly uncharacteristic for him, he’s torched, his tennis demise imminent, once again, he rises from the ashes to resume kicking major butt.
Looking back, Rafa lost Madrid and he lost in the finals. To say the least, up to that point in time, a loss for Rafa in the finals of any clay court tournament was exceedingly rare. Andy Murray won, and for just the second time in his career on clay.
Rafa’s performance was abysmal, freakishly so.
I mean at times he looked as though he was an average dirt baller. If one were not aware of his astonishing achievements on clay, he could easily have been mistaken for an ordinary player. He was spraying balls all over creation. Hell, he even hit one ball intended to be his patented down-the-line lefty hook shot that, as it left the viewing portion of my TV screen, was still hooking and rising. It had to have landed well into the upper level seats on the south end of the stadium.
It wasn’t a shank either, it was simply a terrible loss of control.
I’ve seen several versions of the nervous Nadal. Under those conditions, his usual heavy topspin ball lands short, often not even beyond the service line, and aggressive players step inside the baseline to obliterate them. Rafa then, is by default, relegated to strictly defensive tennis. And we all know that in modern-day tennis, defense alone cannot win at the elite level.
To further muddle the picture, not only did Rafa lose to Andy Murray in the finals of Madrid, he didn’t even win a tournament during the 2015 clay court season.
That’s right, not a single tournament, not even the French Open which, given the fact he’s won it nine times, may someday be renamed the “Nadal Open At Roland Garros.” It would certainly be fitting. After all, who is likely to usurp that record?
Records are made to be broken for sure, but a mere mortal winning nine or more of the most grueling slam of them all…
Trust me, it ain’t gonna happen!
Still, with historically overwhelming evidence to the contrary, after Rafa lost in the quarters of the French this year, I read an article the very next day stating unequivocally that Rafa was finished.
Finished it said, finite, done, cooked, kaput, broken, through, ruined, never to win another title. Uninformed readers would surely have thought the man was on his tennis deathbed.
But, as in the past, when pronouncements of Rafa’s tennis demise have become most vociferous, he’s always charged back.
Well, he’s done it again, charged back that is…on grass! Just in time for Wimbledon.
Yesterday Rafael Nadal, the same guy who’d been written off a week or so earlier by some ill-informed expert, won the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany…yeah, on grass!
He continues proving his greatest detractors wrong. Have they forgotten so quickly that due to injury, illness and surgery, he played very little tennis the latter portion of 2014? Or are they just so hellbent on writing his tennis obituary that they are blind to what he’s done?
If you look up the word resilience, next to the definition, there should be a photo of a guy in tennis attire with pirate pants on with a big “R” on the front chest portion of his shirt.
It should be a photo of the most resilient champion of the open era.
It should be a photo of Rafael Nadal.