Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Wimbledon Final – TennisSunday, July 3, 2011 21:55
Novak Dkokovic’s victory over Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon championship brought out another side in Nadal.
Tear Down the Wall
Novak Djokovic’s incredible year continued today with a four-set victory over Rafael Nadal to win the Wimbledon men’s championship in dominating fashion. Djokovic is now 48-1 in 2011 with two Grand Slam titles, claiming the #1 ranking in the world after his semi-final victory–today’s result only cemented it further.
I’ve never found myself able to root for Nadal, and I do not have a good reason why. He is an immensely talented player, one of the two or three greatest all-time on clay and also among the few ever who have been dominant on all surfaces. I respect his ability and the fact that as far as anyone knows he has always been a classy, upstanding individual–no Tiger Woods or Michael Vick-type moments, not even Terrell Owens-type shenanigans.
And yet, I’ve never been fan.
I guess my non-Nadal support stems from the fact that I have always been a Roger Federer fan and Nadal has been Federer’s primary adversary on the courts for so many years. Then up comes Djokovic as the new challenger to Nadal now that Federer is starting to decline, and I find myself rooting for the Djoker, specifically because he is not Nadal.
And yet, that started to change towards the end of today’s match. I was still rooting for Djokovic, but I was softening towards Nadal. He suddenly seemed human to me; I could see sudden cracks of subtle emotion in him that I had never noticed previously, and I found myself feeling bad for the guy. The last in particular surprised me, since there is a big difference between liking an athlete and feeling bad for one.
My reaction made me reflect upon Nadal’s persona. He has always seemed somewhat of a machine to me (fist-pumping a great shot or celebrating a championship does not break that machine mold). When you can see past that facade to the inner person, that is the point at which you can connect to an athlete whom otherwise has been an impenetrable wall for rooting interest. Many great players have had seemingly cold exteriors when dealing with the public and/or press, and their support has suffered for it, despite putting up numbers that should warrant more fans.
Today Nadal’s wall broke for me. I wonder how I shall feel come the US Open.
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