Every sport has a legend behind it. Every sport is made by legends, whose names are unforgettable and etched in the minds of people for time immemorial. It is the players who make a sport. Their sportsmanship, team spirit, leadership and most importantly their ambition to win. Their ambition to be great, not for their self but for their passion of the sport. Tennis is one such great sport. Everyone can relate to Federer when you think of the sport tennis. He has been the champion of all times people say. Then who is that underdog shining in glory right at the top of the table? Who is the one who won five continuous French open titles? Who is the one who won 14 grand slam titles against 17 of Federer’s already? Well he is the new champion of all times! The not so calm yet so aggressive on ground that he can intimidate the opponent player. You are thinking right, that’s none other than Rafael Nadal. As he quotes “No one remembers defeats. People remember victories”, and people will certainly remember him for the years to come.

There will always be a cold war between Federer and Nadal fans. Federer is the tennis genius, more experienced, more composed during play and more focused. However, when one observes Rafa in motion, one can easily notice his aggression, his tension, his worry. A novice feel to every match of his. And why is that? Does anyone wonder why he has that style of playing? Why he obsesses over drinking water from two properly positioned water bottles in each break?  It is easy for us to say how could he lose this match? That point was such a miss. What we don’t understand is the mindset of the player during that match. And unless we don’t get on that field we never will come to that realization. I was always a Nadal fan, not for his winnings, or his ranking but for his passion for the sport, for his mere belief in the fact that “Expectations don’t win matches, you do.” Having read “Rafa: My Story”, his autobiography, my liking for him simply grew. He was now an inspiration, an idol to imbibe qualities from. He started early and by the age of 15 he had won his first ATP tournament. Then came the Davis cup, then his first win against Roger Federer at the age of 17 and the list went on increasing till his last win at the French Open 2014.  Coming from a small town in Spain and being trained by his uncle Toni, he reached where he is today. He is a master of clay no doubt. Five French Open titles in a row defines it Can anyone imagine a small town boy to reach the pinnacle of success in his career that early in his life.

It hasn’t been easy for the player. He has had to rigorously train for years together. For innumerable hours a day. He has had to suffer knee pain since the time he had a surgery in 2005. Even today you will see the player struggle on his routines before a match so that he has control over his footwork on ground. Despite of being good on clay his dream was always winning the Wimbledon title. After consecutively being a runner up in 2006 and 2007, it was time he struck the grass court too. And when he decides to take it, he does. He took the title away from Federer yet again and became the GOAT.

What made him win? What made him the GOAT? Was it just his passion, his hard work and perseverance? It was something more than that. As he quotes it “Losing is not my enemy.  Fear of losing is my enemy”. That’s right. Rafa fears too. And he truly believes in one thing, what makes him unique from the others: “I play each point like my life depends on it”. Now these are the words of a winner. The one who doesn’t play for defeating the other, but who plays to grow himself with each match. That’s Rafael Nadal for you.

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Damini Naidu

Damini Naidu

technology enthusiast, trained bharatnatyam dancer, past-time philosophical writer, movie buff