Many years ago, I had a dabble with wheelchair tennis. While I enjoyed it at that time, it was something I never really took to and since then, tennis is a sport that hasn’t been within my radar.
Until Jiun who is a big tennis fan. To be more precise, a huge fan of Rafael Nadal.
I knew who Nadal is and what he looks like. That’s about it. Naturally, when I first discovered this, I could only presume that her advocation for him might have something to do with his physique.
Last week, the US Open was on our television every morning. Eventually on Tuesday morning, I decided to watch the Men’s Singles Finals with Jiun. Nadal was playing Novak Djokovic so it must be a good game.
Nadal played incredibly well and the match fell into his favour in the beginning. At the end of the second set, his opponent finally fired up and won it. Djokovic played well into the third set.
Here is where I began to understand my girl’s support for the Spaniard.
Nadal never gave up and his determination to win did not seem to falter. I could see it in his eyes and it was obvious from his game and body language. He chased down every shot that came back his way, even when it seemed impossible to catch, and he returned it with everything he had, every single time. I could not have said the same about his opponent who is the current world number 1.
I then learnt from his biggest fan in our household that this is who he is. She said, “Rafa’s an inspiration to watch. You would relate to that attitude,” and turned back to the television.
It was indeed a tense match.
After over 3 hours on court, Nadal won the US Open that day, much to Jiun’s jubilation. At only 27 years of age, it was his second victory in Flushing Meadows and 13th Grand Slam.
I read the news about this victory with fascination yesterday. Nadal missed the US Open last year and had been out of tennis for 7 months as a result of injury this year yet has so quickly returned to his best. Many people don’t realise how difficult it is to make a comeback at such a level into professional and world-class sports after a break, let alone such a long one.
While I would not be so quick to say I have been converted into a tennis fan, I daresay Nadal has gained my respect and admiration. It is not the body that is willing, it is your mind and no doubt, an unbelievably positive attitude and sheer determination.