Sunday, January 29, 2012

Novak beats Rafa in epic 5-set final at the Australian open

Congratulations to Novak. I have a begrudging respect for how he has overcome his inner demons, thereby allowing him to walk like a colossus among men in tennis. Unfortunately, this post is not about the winner; it is about the loser.

My heart weeps for Rafael Nadal. Though he will live to fight another day, I wonder how he can recover from this. Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco are not the same after their epic losses in the years gone by. In fact, they have faded into oblivion since their epic matches in 2009 - Wimbledon final for Andy and Australian open semi-final for Verdasco. For that matter, two of the greatest tennis players of all time could not overcome such defeats - Federer has not beaten Nadal in a grand slam since he lost the 2008 Wimbledon to him, and Bjorn Borg retired prematurely after John McEnroe beat him in the epic Wimbledon final of 1981.

So let it be with Rafael. If this is how it ends, it will be a fitting final chapter to a storied grand slam career.

Or, can he use this loss, like he used his 2007 Wimbledon loss to Federer, to realize that he can beat his nemesis? Belief is half the battle. The rest is preparation, perseverance and practice. The latter are Rafa's signature moves. He lacked the former against Novak.

I hope this isn't "all she wrote" about the man from Mallorca.

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