It was a 5 hour 53 minute epic and Djokovic managed to stagger over the line first. Both players gave absolutely all they had to give. It was astonishing stuff. They were both cramping so badly during the presentations that the officials had to find chairs for them.
I watched last night until 1am when it looked like Nadal was done for, sitting forward in my chair with my heart racing and giving Nadal the benefit of my vast technical expertise – get closer to the baseline, take the ball on the rise, come on. Of course, as those who know better explain, it’s not easy to do that against an opponent who doesn’t let you play your game.
At the end they were both enormously gracious. “We made history,” Djokovic said. And Nadal described the way that a passion for excellence is a reward in itself. Steve Tignor of TENNIS.com singled out Nadal’s post match speech as the best moment of an amazing night.
“When you are with passion for the game,” Nadal said, “when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?”
But it isn’t just a feeling you have on a tennis court, and it isn’t something, in Rafa’s mind, that only star athletes can understand. It’s there for anyone who tries for something greater.
“I don’t know if I express it very well,” he went on, “but is something that maybe you understand. So today I had this feeling, and is really a good one. I enjoyed. I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.
“I enjoyed. I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time. I played a lot with my heart and lot with my mind, that’s something that is nice to be around, and [it’s not just about] tennis.”
Nadal is not just a gifted athlete, he’s a smart, and emotionally-aware man.