I have been a fan of Tennis from the first time that I saw live match at the US Open at Forest Hills in 1975. Back then Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors were dominating the sport. Martina Navatrilova and Bjorn Borg were just coming onto the scene.
I will never forget being at my college girlfriend’s house on the 4th of July in ’81 and seeing the epic battle between Borg and John McEnroe. As the years have gone by, I was certain that would be the greatest match I would ever see.
I was wrong. This Sunday Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had the match of the a lifetime. It was the same center court of Wimbledon that Borg and McEnroe had done battle on 27 years ago. The similarities between the rivalry of Borg/McEnroe and Federer/Nadal are amazing. In both cases, the current champion had won a record 5 Wimbledon’s in a row. In both, the young upstart was finally trying to knock the king off of their throne. And, most similarly, the tennis was at such a high level that it was almost unbelievable.
At the most tense times, both players were hitting shots that were as exceptional you could hit. It truly was a joy to watch. John McEnroe, who is now the commentator for the Wimbledon Championships, is often very critical of the players efforts. Even he admitted, that it was the greatest match that he had ever seen.
Nadal (the underdog) went up 2 sets to 0 (best of 5) He was in control. Fedrer dug in and forced a sudden death tie breaker to determine the 3rd set. Federer won it, and it seemed like the momentum might be shifting. The 4th set was another amazing monument to the game. It too ended in a tie breaker. Nadal was up by 4 points and only needed 2 more to win it all. Federer went to another gear and hit some of the most amazing shots I have ever seen under pressure. He got the tiebreaker even and it went on and on till Federer finally won it in dramatic fashion. Nadal had to be devastated. How could he not be. He had the champ on the ropes and let him go. I would have bet ANYTHING that Federer was going to clobber Nadal in the 5th, and final set.
He did not. Nadal dug deep and acted as if nothing bad had happened. Watching that 5th set was one of the most pleasurable times of my life. Both men played like the truest of champions. The match went on for close to 5 hours (the longest final match in the history of the event). It was a shame that anyone had to lose, but in the final moments, Nadal was slightly better and won his first Wimbledon title.
Nadal was asked how in the world he kept his composure after the devastating 4th set loss. He said he talked briefly to his uncle at a break and he reminded him to STAY POSITIVE no matter what. I have been teaching the value of positive thinking for 20 years. It is always a blessing to see people put it into action in their lives, but to see it play out on such a big stage, was truly incredible.
Congrats to Nadal, his uncle, and their positive mental attitudes !!!