(Since I don’t have friends who are into tennis, I’m writing my heartbreak over Rafa’s lost here 😦 to ease the pain…. and woah first sports post ever, who would have thought I would be into tennis?)
I lost sleep over Rafa’s last Wimbledon match against G. Mueller. I did not know that a tennis match could last that long; the game totaled 4 hours and 48 minutes and the grueling final set alone ran for 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was an early upset although sports writers already predicted that it would be a difficult match for Rafa. They are both left handed players and Mueller had the advantage of being more at home in Wimbledon’s grass courts.
It really upsets me when naysayers whine that Rafa is only good in clay but not in grass courts (they are wrong Rafa is not good in clay, he is a god in clay). People seem to forget that Rafa won two of his 15 Grand Slam titles in Wimbledon’s grass court (and he has Grand slams in all types of courts: hard, clay, and grass). To be fair, the King of Clay has not been in the Wimbledon quarter finals since 2011. This lost was particularly heavy because this year has been going so well for Rafa- he faced his longtime rival at the finals for the Australian Open (but Federer took the championship home) and he got his tenth (La Decima) French Open title this year. He started this year’s Wimbledon with confidence – he had not dropped a single set in all his games before his match with G.Mueller.
The Nadal-Mueller match could be dubbed as a David vs. Goliath game. Mueller was clearly the underdog. He is world’s number 26 but Rafa is ranked as #2. At 34 years old, Mueller has never won a Grand Slam and had never reached Wimbledon’s quarter finals. Meanwhile Rafa is 3 years younger, has 15 Grand Slams, and has won Wimbledon twice. Even when Rafa was making mistakes and playing poorly during the match, the greater part of the crowd was rooting for him. Shouts of “Come on Rafa!” and “Go Rafa!” were audibly heard every time he scored. The underdog triumphing over the crowd favorite and a tennis legend is an inspiring story. Mueller was the better player in this match and he deserved this win.
As a Nadal fan, this would have been easier to accept if only this year was not Nadal’s comeback.
Before 2017, sports writers have already eulogized Rafa and had been expecting his early retirement. Rafa has been consistently suffering from several injuries even on his early years. Coping with severe injuries has always been the norm for the Nadal team (his fans have often wondered how much more he could have achieved if not for his injuries, more Grand Slams than Federer maybe?). Critics have already written him off back in 2015 when he kept losing left and right even on his favorite clay court. He has reached his 30s and was not expected to make a comeback.
Then came 2017, Rafa’s comeback year, injury free and with greater confidence. After a three year drought in Grand Slams (he had not won any since 2014) he bagged his tenth French Open or his La Decima (“tenth” in his native Spanish) proving that he truly is King of Clay. Rafa was back. Critics have been waiting for his body to finally give up on him. Except it did not. At 31, he is reasserting himself and proving that his best years are not over just yet. This is why I’m a Nadal fan, because of his ability to bounce back (and definitely not because of his biceps and his dimply smile 🙂 *wink*).
There is still the US Open remaining. Its hard court would be tough on Rafa’s body and play. But, I think Rafa is not yet finished in making 2017 truly his comeback year. (Rafa is GOAT not just in clay but he is GOAT in all surfaces)
P.S. I followed the game live through Wimbledon Radio. I could not find any livestream for the match. Suddenly, I realized why people have ESPN subscriptions.