May 16, 2012

Defending Rafael Nadal

I’ve been following the career of Rafael Nadal with interest and awe since the time he stepped on court as a professional. I’ve watched him develop over the years and had tears of admiration when he finally became number one. There have been a lot of negatives things written about him and while I would agree with many of them, I think the Spaniard is sometimes taken out of context because of his youth, his great looks, his athleticism, and sometimes it is just plain jealousy. Otherwise why write negatively of his piñatas and sleeveless shirts, and losing his hair? He is a kid still, for heaven’s sake. And what has his hair got to do with it?

I look at Nadal as a little puppy that has much to learn and occasionally has an accident and wets the floor. He has a way to go yet with humility. But who are we to judge? He has to please the people around him; his coach Uncle Toni, the sponsors, his fans, and everyone’s eyes are on him. Put a tennis racquet in a child’s hands at the age of three, teach him resilience and a stubbornness to win, this is what you get; a hard-working athlete who has to learn to deal with fame. I too have cringed here and there at some of his actions and remarks, but put it down to achieving fame too early in his life.

Another thing; if Nadal makes a noise about the blue clay courts it is held against him. If Djokovich on the other hand says the same things and echoes Nadal, he is praised for it. Yes, Nadal has his quirks. He has rituals before serving the ball. He picks at his clothes and lines up his water bottles with meticulous precision under his umbrella and keeps people waiting. So what? Maybe he has a compulsive disorder. Do you laugh at that and do we blame him for it? He’s not Mr Federer. He’s just a colorful, brazen sportsman who sometimes gets ahead of himself. Federer is known as the gentleman on the court, but he has his ambitions. Nadal just hasn’t learned yet how to hide his. He is a little jumpy these days but it is no surprise when you’re a former number one. As for the journalist at who wrote the scathing article; you posed the question as to whether it was your discontent or Rafa’s. It is definitely yours.

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