Sunday, July 06, 2008

I've just witnessed the impossible!

Yelp, he did it. Two rain delays, almost five hours later and in almost complete darkness he did it. Rafael Nadal has just defeated five-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in what has to be THE greatest match in tennis history. Nadal defeated Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 in what is now the longest final match in Wimbledon history. Even the legendary John McEnroe, who has played in some of the greatest matches in Wimbledon history, called today's affair the greatest he's ever seen. In fact, he looked like he was in tears towards the end of his post-match interviews. And if you know anything about John McEnroe you know that he ain't the cryin' type.

I've been a tennis "nut" for at least 20+ years. At one time in my life I wanted to become a professional tennis player. I started playing too late to be a pro but if I was good enough I would have tried my hand at the ATP Tour. Being involved in tennis for that long I've been blessed to witness some of the greatest players to ever play including (in no particular order):

The Williams Sisters

...just to name a few. And I have to admit that what I saw today was the finest match I've ever seen.

What made it so special was not only the history and drama but the level of play was remarkable. For example, one of Federer's forehands was clocked at 101 mph. Both of these guys serve around 120 mph and they hit that hard for the entire match.

Today's match was more like a Heavyweight Championship Fight between the world's best sluggers. They entered the ring, both champions, and hit each other with everything they had, standing toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring, both refusing to quit.

Believe it or not, despite admitting that this loss was hard, there were times during the trophy ceremony where Roger seemed happy for Nadal. But, given his level of professionalism and sportsmanship I'm not surprised. As we say in martial art circles, "they both fought with honor."

Even if you're not a fan of tennis I hope you had an opportunity to see today's historic match. It went back and forth with both men fighting to the bitter end. And because of their respect for one another and high character as athletes, it was also a great example of how to conduct yourself with class in winning and in losing. Wow, what a match!


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