The longest Wimbledon Gentlemen’s final may have been the most important. The most important for the sport of tennis. The most important for sport, period. Fresh from his victory in Paris, “The King of Clay” dethroned the “King of Grass.” In an ESPN Instant Classic type of match, Rafael Nadal outlasted 5-time Wimbledon Champion, Roger Federer; 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(7-5), 6-7(10-8), 9-7.
Why the most important, you ask? We live in the era of entitlement. Our sports heroes/heroines are often spoiled, full of excuses, and always seeking more. Not more of a challenge, more money. In the midst of the egos and diva attitudes, it is refreshing to see an athlete like Rafael Nadal. He has the talent, the looks, and the star quality the public savors . He is the next media darling. But, he’s different from the others we prematurely anoint. He has the work ethic of Jerry Rice, the humility of Arthur Ashe, and the killer instinct of Michael Jordan.
As a young boy, the Mallorca native dreamed of winning the prestigious Wimbledon title at the All England Club. Although clay is viewed as his sanctuary, his level of determination and dedication to improve his game on grass was exquisitely displayed on Centre Court this past Sunday. To Rafa, the endorsements, the fame, and the legion of screaming girls don’t matter at the end of the day. Rafa realizes the importance of family and legacy. Listen to Rafa when he roars.
I have one more nickname for Senor Nadal, Revolutionary Rafa. Revolutionary[rev-uh-loo-shuh-ner-ee] (1) radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc. (2) of, pertaining to, characterized by, or of the nature of a revolution, or a sudden, complete, or marked change. I hope I’m right.