Rafael Nadal: A Champion in Victory and a Champion in Loss

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IJune 1, 2009

Rafael Nadal redefined the meaning of the word "humility" yesterday.

With a stoic maturity that is seldom displayed by many, this 22 year old's grace and "life moves on" attitude after the worst defeat he has ever suffered in clay, has opened another chapter about his down-to-earth aura.

Writing this feels weird because as a Federer fan, I am supposed to be jumping up and down with ecstasy, finding faults and double entendres, mocking him for his saintly demeanour in his press conference in addition to speculating that his composure was a facade to divert his inner feelings from the world.

But, I can't do it...for if I were to do it, I would be the worst possible sadist alive on the planet.

It's not that I didn't want him to lose...yes I did, but not to some obscure Swede who, after defeating Rafa, maintains that Bjorn Borg should SMS him as if he has conquered Mount Everest.

I wanted Rafa to be there in the finals against Federer, wanted to see them clash and mark their rivalry with a new bookmark, and hoped that it would be in Federer's favour this time.

Not to gloat, but to see them fight until the finish, (last year's debacle still rankles) to see them lock horns, at any surface, any match, and any tournament—it is a treat for the eyes and nothing would have compared to the emotion of Federer gaining the trophy from Rafa Nadal.

A full completion of a circle!

And though his defeat put aside all such dreams and hopes, there was a contentment that I rooted for Rafa until the end yesterday, and it was doubly satisfying when I read his presser at the official RG site.

As a fan, I am a bad loser almost reaching to the point of "sour grapes," but after reading this guy's feedback, it feels like I should be hiding in some remote corner of the world dropping my head in abject shame.

Losing is one thing, but to come out and talk as if it's no big deal, giving credit to a man who is bragging about his greatness at the other end...that is a monumental effort and demands a stand-up ovation.

Being touted as the favourite, attempting to create a record for yourself, and to see it getting washed away in this manner and then accepting it: Yes, I did make a mistake, and I hope to learn from it in the days to come.

It's not easy and many cannot carry it off with the surety that Rafa did.

Rafa's blatant acceptance of the reality, perhaps far more earlier than when his fans and friends did, reflects his balance and greatness as a professional.

As a part of the whole, it takes a lot of different men and women to comprise the world of tennis, and it's really worthwhile that Rafael Nadal forms a larger than life part of it:

Both as the victor and as the vanquished...Vamos Rafa!