Wow. Standing ovation.
Arguably the best rivalry in tennis right now may have just produced arguably the best 3-setter ever played in the sport. After witnessing 4-hours, 2-minutes of Rafael Nadal fending and fighting off Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(9) in the Madrid Tennis Masters, it’s hard to make a case otherwise. Did that just really happen? It did.
Nadal is simply super human. He really is. To withstand matchpoint after matchpoint with the weight of the stadium, the nation and his native fans on his shoulders and his ailing knees was just too damn good.
Whether you are a Rafa fan or not, you have to salute the guy. Just think in the last year alone what he’s given us. His epic Wimbledon title, a memorable masterpiece at the Australian Open triumph and now this. Astonishing.
Add in his Rome 5-setter over Federer and a nail-bitter over Coria, it’s clear the guy is building up an incredible resume of some of the greatest matches ever played. And hell, I probably left out a couple. But what’s most remarkable is he wins just about all them all. Mind boggling.
For Novak, I rip on him a lot, but today he showed a heck of a lot of heart, fight and guts. That’s the Novak I want to see and I hope I will see more of in the future. He has no shame in losing today. None. He did nothing wrong, just bad luck in the end. I just hope this will serve as a sort of launching pad for the Serb toward bigger and better things.
Back to Nadal, just give him the French trophy now. The top guys should all withdraw and concentrate on the grass and hardcourts where they have a chance. Just look at how hard, how well Novak had to play just to win ONE set. ONE!! In Paris, someone will have to win THREE. After today how can any player think he can beat Rafa on clay best-of-5? Impossible.
Now…For those still with some energy left after that one (I am not among that group!), the undercard of Roger Federer v. Juan Martin del Potro is kicking off. I’m sure both players watched the end of the Nadal-Djokovic match, and seeing Nadal win I wonder who really wants a piece of that tomorrow?
Nadal may very well be feeling the fatigue, but do you really want to challenge him on championship Sunday? Good luck.
Not to get cliché and melancholy, but this one of those “tennis wins” kind of days. Thanks Rafa for another one.
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