I’m dancing on Cloud 9 since last night and obviously I won’t be stopping and coming down any soon.
Rafael Nadal had just won his fifth Roland Garros title last night – all without dropping a single set. It’s his 40th career title, his seventh Grand Slam, won this year’s “Clay Slam”, set a new record of 18th Masters title, and re-gaining the number 1 spot, all of which he achieved three days after his 24th birthday!!! Whew, and the world suddenly seems to be right, at least in the tennis world of Rafa and us, his fans.
Be calm. I am going to win.
– Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon finals 2008
Elizabeth Kaye quoted him saying this to his Uncle Tony and Team Rafa in the locker room while waiting for the game to resume at the rain-delayed Wimbledon 2008 finals match against Roger Federer. Read the whole article here – Zen and the Art of Rafael Nadal – a wonderfully written piece about one of the greatest sportsmen of our time.
This quote showed Rafa’s character and the moment I saw it, it quickly became my mantra throughout the tournament. I honestly didn’t think Robin Soderling will win. I was not disappointed; I knew Rafa had already set his mind. Last night’s finals match showed a cool, calm, and collected Rafa. Cool as he might have been last night but he sure did went out there on a mission: to destroy the bird (Robin) and the mission was completed in a very convincing fashion. Rafa didn’t let his nerves bother him again. Robin Soderling had some brilliant moments showing his thumping shots there but, like Nicolas Almagro, it wasn’t enough to even win him a single set; he had a lot of break points but Rafa wouldn’t let him.Clearly, Rafa means business and when Rafa means business, we saw why he is the best defensive and offensive player there is. After the second set, Robin is seen walking slowly and tiredly towards his chair. It gave me an impression of a beaten man about to begin the third set.
It was an emotional experience to see Rafa fall down on the clay in celebration of his win, and later on, him sobbing and heaving in between sobs behind the towel. It was the first time I saw him cry after a game and it is quite understandable. Going up against the only player to have beat him at RG and winning it means so much more to him, considering the circumstances of his performance in 2009. It is awesome to see him again lift and bite the RG trophy he so deserves. It goes to show that when Rafa is 100% fit there is no one who could stand in his way at the RG. I hope this will shut all Rafa doom-sayers and Uncle Tony hecklers out there.
The Order has been restored, sports analysts/writers say. Indeed, as Rafa is, once again, the King of Clay. I know my friends Ana and Lui will agree with me when I say that us fans have had a great ride with Rafa, so far, and that we all can’t wait for the rest of the year to unfold in the tennis world.
Now, it’s on to the green, green grass; Rafa has a second Wimbledon title to chase.
Imagine the delight of the French audience when Rafa spoke a bit of French during the awarding ceremony. By doing so, he not only has reclaimed his Roland Garros title but also regained the hearts of the French tennis fans.