When I was a child I fell in love with tennis. I fell in love with the challenge... I fell in love with the fun... I fell in love with the competing...I fell in love with the camaraderie and much more. To this day all I need to do is picture in my mind walking into the outback tennis centres where I played most of my junior tournaments to trigger great joy.
For those of us who love tennis, watching the men's US Open final was a great reminder of why that is...Watching Rafa resist Medvedev's incredible fightback, like all great Grand Slam battles, shows us that ultimately it is the greatest sporting test. No other sport tests the physical, technical, tactical, and mental elements so completely.
And this match proved to be the ultimate mental test. The physical demands, the pressure, trying to hang on when behind, trying to finish when in front, , the doubts, the wandering mind, the frustrations...It had it all :-)
This match was also a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect even at the highest levels of the game. It's because of the great challenge that the game presents, that we just have to be a little better than the guy down the other end.
On this day for Rafa, from the moment he lost his break advantage in the 3rd set the pressure lifted. This was not a surprise. After all, outside of the French Open he had only won 1 Grand Slam in the last 6 years. His body naturally tightened when ahead...Doubts crept in when down break points in the 5th...
But the way he was able to fight his way to the finish line despite the internal challenges that he experienced was incredible, once again, to see.
Tennis is so challenging that to quote a saying that a great mentor of mine Michael Fox commonly references, “To thrive, you don’t have to be faster than the bear chasing you, you just have to be faster than the person next to you who is trying to get away from the bear as well”.
Tennis is the bear...And even Rafa hasn't and will never master it. He has however mastered the art of out running almost all opponents...
Well done Rafa...and to tennis- we love you!