There was a time when competition in every sport were turning into rivalry. This seemed fair enough for the sport. But, this rivalry take in any sport later extended outside the game which was not a healthy sign at all.
The fans and millions of viewers are just a mere reflection of the love they have for their sports heroes. They admire them, follow them and few like me worship them. Sports and Sportsperson have a task of inspiring people not only by their playing skill but also by their on and off court behavior. In this case, I cannot help but think about only two persons who brought glory to their sport, by means of their matches and sportsmanship. Those two are Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal.
There has been many such duos in tennis history. McEnroe-Borg. Sampras-Agassi. And lots more. But, these two Gentleman Roger & Nadal, were and still are way ahead than the rest in all. Be it, the quality of the matches they played, their mutual admiration and the extreme level of rapport they had every time off-court.
I am a die-hard fan of Rafa. They were times (even now) where Rafa is considered the best than Roger. Here is where, Rafa did something which made millions of fans like me admire and respect time. Time and time, he has always kept Roger in the highest regard and even went on to say that if a person says that I am better than Roger, then that guy never knows tennis at all. True. Roger is the GREATEST of all times. The number says it all. Rafa has never played down on Roger in any interviews or speeches.
Roger, on the other hand has credited Nadal whenever and wherever possible. He never fails to mention that many a times, Nadal had the better of him. These were words from the Greatest Player ever. Humble.
Mutual Respect & Admiration. Sportsmanship. All these words can be personified as FEDAL.
Let me take an illustration, Australian Open 2009. Rafa beat Roger in 5-sets. That was Rafa’s first hard court Grand Slam Title. In the presentation ceremony, Roger broke down. He was totally down and opted not to speak. Later, Rafa was given the Trophy. After lifting it and without any delay, he went and placed his arms over Roger’s shoulder and consoled him.What they spoke, nobody knows. But, that incident clearly depicted the respect he had to Roger and Roger re-iterated the same in the speech later in the ceremony. By this gesture, they showed to the millions in the world, what sportsmanship is all about.
Such level of sportsmanship can never be seen in any other duo. They were called RIVALS. Yes. On-court. Off-court, they are not. They were never arrogant in their behavior on and off court.
Djokovic was said to be arrogant in the way he expresses his victory over Rafa. He tore his shirt after a Grand Slam final victory against Rafa and many such instances have been quoted. This behavior only showed Djoker’s intensity and importance in the way the match was won. By nature, Djoker is hilarious. His pranks and mocking is loved by many. But, a few take this in the wrong way. Everybody cannot be a Roger (calm in victory and defeat). Players are different. Their expressions are different. Djoker and Rafa, share a good rapport. Djoker is more open in his interviews. He said that Rafa is beatable on clay and many said that his talk was arrogant. But the fact is, Rafa has been beaten on clay in the past and even now. The problem lies in the way Djoker expresses his actions and words. Had he used alternate words, then I hope he would not have been mistaken.
Remember. Djoker broke into the No.1 rankings when Rafa and Roger were still playing. It is a big thing. Is it not ? You cannot say Rafa was injured or Roger was getting old. Djoker had the play to reach the pinnacle of tennis rankings. Let him be hyper-expressive. It would take time for him to realize. He surely will. Rafa was also very expressive during his teens. But, gradually he reduced it. You can very well see the difference. I write this because, I have seen many abusing Djoker for his gestures and interviews. He reacts, responds not. But soon, he will respond.
Murray. The other big name. Hardly in the news, but a highly skilled player. A very good friend of Rafa. Murray can be seen being upset by the fact that Rafa retired due to injuries in the 2010 Australian Open Quarter-Finals. Though a victory, Murray ceased to be happy seeing his friend getting injured again. Rafa was the defending champion then.
These small gestures, make fans inspire. In due course, things would be much better. Sports tends to be healthy because of the player’s gesture towards their peers. Player’s off-court behavior is being noticed more than their on-court. It is the player’s responsibility to maintain the dignity and decorum of the sport and sportsmanship.
Qualities like modesty, respect, admiration are more valued than victories. Fans must also be sensible enough to learn from their heroes, both positives and negatives. Respect your hero’s opponent. Remember, Rafa got better because of Roger. Djoker got better because of Rafa. Mutual. Think over it.
For me, Roger & Rafa are the biggest. Both in terms of quality of play and in sportsmanship. I have learnt a lot from them. Still learning a lot from them. Tennis & sportsmanship will never be the same without them. FEDAL. Cheers.
The Boy Wonder starts his dominance on clay with his first Roland Garros victory on 2005.
This second Grand Slam on the same tournament, made him a force to reckon with. Defeats Roger Federer in this victory.
The 3rd Consecutive victory again on the same red-dirt surface defeating the same rival Roger Federer. Thus, denying Federer , a Career Grand Slam.
The 4th Consecutive victory on Roland Garros, equaling Borg’s record on the surface. This was Roger Federer’s worst defeat handed by Nadal. The victory was sealed by a BAGEL.
The Rise to No.1 happened with this victory against the FedEX. The dominance of Federer on Wimbledon was halted, thus denying him a 6th consecutive Wimbledon title. The tag ‘Clay court-player only’ started to deteriorate.
Defeats FedEx again in Australia and also making him move to tears. A warmth hug from Nadal to Federer in the post-match conference, clearly indicated the rapport and respect these two players had for each other. A classical example of sportsmanship was exhibited here. The term ‘FEDAL’ was coined after this incident.
Following the defeat in Roland Garros 2009, Nadal’s dominance on clay was questioned and critics never favored him to win this title. The ‘RESURGENCE’ victory, against Soderling (who defeated Nadal in 2009) made Nadal worthy of the tag, ‘The King of Clay’. His dominance on clay has never been questioned after this victory.
Another Wimbledon victory, after a gap of one year. Nadal skipped the 2009 Wimbledon citing reasons of knee injury. This was Nadal’s 2nd consecutive Wimbledon victory. The opponent was Tomas Berdych, who defeated Federer in the semi-finals.
‘The Man for all surfaces’. Meets Novak in the finals of US Open 2010. Wins in a 4-set match. Becomes the youngest Career Grand Slam winner in The Open Era history.
Another Roland Garros victory. The opponent was FedEx. Nadal started with a 5-set victory over John Isner in the first round. His performance in this tournament was not exemplary, but he managed to extend his Rolans Garros Streak.
Surpasses Borg’s record of SIX Roland Garros titles. Defeats Novak in a rain-affected match. Wins his 11th Major title.
The 8th Wonder. Roland Garros Champion 8-times. After a victory in a close match against Novak in the semi-finals, Nadal had no problem in defeating David Ferrer in straight sets. Becomes the first man to win 8 titles in a Grand Slam Tournament. Added to it, he surpassed Borg, Sampras and Federer, by winning atleast 1 Grand Slam title for nine consecutive years. A Good record, isn’t ?
Rafael Nadal won the title, defeating Novak in the final, 6–2, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1. Both Djokovic and Nadal were in contention for the No. 1 Ranking at the start of the tournament. Djokovic retained the top ranking by reaching the final.
Rafa’s 14th Grand Slam equaling the record with Pete Sampras. This makes him the winner of nine French Open Title and also winning five consecutive Roland Garros Title, both being Open-Era records. Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic, thus once again denying him his Career Grand Slam.
#Roland Garros 2013: As well as being one of the world’s greatest sportsmen, Rafael Nadal is certainly one of the most polite and pleasant. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Nadal took time out to shake the hand of the security staff who wrestled the second-set court intruder to the floor and now he is posing with the ball kids and tournament officials for team photos.
He is the sort of guy you would actively introduce to your sister.
# Before Wimbledon 2012: I’m very happy the way things went the last couple of months and really since the beginning of the season. But thinking about winning another title here at Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy…That’s something I cannot think about.
# Bleacher Report: You can tell your kids when they watch Nadal, whether it’s tapes of last year or the live matches when he comes back. To be brave and to never give up. To be humble and generous in victory and defeat. To let will overcome deficit and adversity. To try. To keep trying. These are qualities we can actually control. These are qualities that have nothing to do with sport and everything to do with life. You cannot be Godlike. But you can be an exemplary human
# At Wimbledon he welcomes the chance to live in a rented house, surrounded by familiar faces, rather than stay in a hotel. “For me, family and friends are very important,” Nadal said.
# A lot of people believe competition is like life, but that’s not how I see it. I love to win, I love the competition and I will try my best until the last moment, but what happens off the court is not going to affect what happens on it. We can try our best on the court and when we are off it we can be close friends.”
# “Nadal has never broken a racquet. It would be showing a lack of respect to people who actually have to buy the equipment to play the sport “ – Uncle Toni
# It’s the will and attitude to keep on fighting till the end. Every moment he steps on the court, he steps out with a new found hunger and gives his 100 percent in every point, no matter even if he is playing the match against a qualifier or the best. Layoffs, breaks, injuries in the case of champions like Nadal make them even more hungry and determined to focus on their games and return with a vengeance to make up for the time lost.
Our day-to-day life tells us numerous stories, which are unheard by us. The co-passenger, the passer-by, the security guard, the waiter and the list can be made to continue for long. All of them have their own versions of lifestyles. Might be grand or simple, but there are always a lesson to learn from (if we prefer).
Say for an example, the co-passenger beside us, can be over a call. We cannot help but overhear his conversation due to his proximity of seating with us. We can deduce certain facts from his conversation and can draw a conclusion from it, which he might not have noticed. But, we cannot tell this to him, since it is always a matter of privacy and people must never involve in other’s personal space. So, it is better to keep such things within us. Stealing from others is a crime, whereas learning isn’t.
Today, I happened to see a old woman asking for alms across the street. The sun was in his full blaze, and I could see the old woman being penniless. On the move, I gave her a two 10 rupee note. She politely stopped me and thanked me for being so gracious and kind. Then I was taught by her actions, the greatest lesson of life. She told me that a 10 rupee note is enough for her to fill her stomach for the morning and returned the other 10 rupee note to me. I was puzzled and asked her why. She smiled and said to me that there are many old people panhandling around and that this 10-rupee note would make someone else’s day better like how hers was. She asked me to give this money to those people whom I happen to find. Saying this, she walked away. I saw her, from a distance, buying a tea and a bun. She had them, went under the shade of a tree and slept. I could very well make out that it was her daily routine. By a simple gesture of hers, came the greatest lesson of life.
This incident happened in a busy Palladam bus terminal (A small town in the southern part of India). There were hundreds of people nearby watching the old panhandler returning a 10-rupee note to me. I can very well guess what those people would have imagined. I might have been their joke of the day or maybe the year too. But, what that old panhandler told me was absolutely life-changing. She very well would have had a decent meal with the 20 rupees, but she was very considerate about the other panhandlers who are in the same plight as her.
Later, I gave the other 10 rupee note to another old beggar, as she . He thanked me profusely and walked away. This happened to me and I am sharing with you here. Hope it triggers you in deducing your own ‘moral of the story’. Deduce the moral and most importantly, practice them. Lessons matter a lot, than the people who taught it. Hope this article of mine generates a positive effect like the movie ‘Pay it forward’.
Concluding with the moral I deduced, ” Live and Let Live”.
” Have a happier life, by making other’s life happy. Cheers.”