Rafa Nadal the number 1 men’s tennis player in the world beat number 3, Roger Federer today at the French Open. The score makes the outcome look more convincing than it actually was. So many points looked like staged exhibitions at a tennis camp for the gods. Both men played breathtakingly beautiful tennis and the match could have gone either way.
As I watched the two men at the peek of their tennis careers, I thought of the incredible focus and dedication required to play at such a level. Roger Federer is Swiss and at 29 has long been known for his elegance and grace on and off the court. Rafa is younger and is Spanish. Lately the Spanish have succeeded in many international sports competitions including soccer. Of all the Spanish athletes excelling lately, Rafa Nadal playing singles tennis makes me think of a post-modern matador. It is not his clothes—typical tennis wear, not his hair—drenched and tangled and held at bay by a sweat band, but something more ephemeral. To be a champion tennis player takes grace, bravery, and strength. When I saw Rafa use exquisite footwork, amazing athleticism to move around the court, and focus to look past the occasional missed opportunity to stay in the game, what I saw was the very best aspects of the matador.
Maybe I only saw it today because Roger was wearing a red shirt and I kept thinking of a matador’s cape pushing Rafa to triumph.