At 5-4, 15-love in the fourth set against del Potro yesterday, after Nadal had won the point, a man in blue sitting in his box let out a knowing smile. It tells us a lot about Nadal. It tells us a lot about the confidence of the man in Nadal. The knowing smile came about because Nadal and del Potro were trading punches like prize fighters. With this passing shot, Nadal was getting ready to trade the knock-out punches
Not only is Nadal a champion at the game but he is also a champion at heart. After the foot injury , it might have been humanely impossible for him to continue the match. With the first few points in the tie-breaker going del Potro’s way, it was thought that Nadal would be a sitting duck. People were thinking that Nadal’s unbeaten streak at Wimbledon, which dates to 2008 would finally be snapped. What is a champion without actually, pushing the limits? Nadal did exactly that as he came back to wrap up the tie-breaker. Not for the first time it was, that he displayed the heart of a champion. He could have taken the easy way out by pulling out of the match. Del Potro’s victory, then would have rang hollow. Nadal, like he did in the Australian Open earlier , decided to continue with the match as he wanted the opponent to claim his part in the victory.
It’s a different matter altogether then that after 232 minutes of pulsating tennis, where the opponents would have felt like a matador opposite a raging bull, it was Nadal that emerged victorious. At the press conference later, he put his further participation in tournament hanging in doubt as he had no idea on the extent of the foot injury. Knowing Nadal, it won’t be a surprise if he strides out to Center court and gives the audience their money’s worth
Nadal is disarming with the media. A few weeks ago, in the run up to the French Open, he was asked if he preferred to face Djokovic or Murray in the final. His reply was “ I am not a stupid. I would want to face Murray” It was not an insult to Murray but he was acknowledging the red hot streak of Djokovic
Two days ago, Mcenroe and Connors- two legends of the game, felt that the players should be more outwardly aggressive. Nadal repudiated those comments by saying “Tennis is just a game “ He has never spoken a bad word or criticised a player openly
Del Potro complained to the referee about the 7 minute odd injury break to Nadal, but when it was Nadal’s turn in the third set, he just rested his chin on his palm and waited patiently for del Potro to emerge. We have seen an odd Federer whinge about Hawk-eye. Nadal does nothing that would actually challenge the officials
With this being the most keenly contested Wimbledon in years, Nadal would also love to throw his hat in the ring and once again show the indomitable spirit that sustains him