CityVP 🐝 Manjit en Workable VP of Membership • Great Minds Advanced TM 10/6/2018 · 3 min de lectura · 1,2K

The King of Parisian Clay

The King of Parisian Clay

There is no question who is the Greatest Clay Court Player of All Time - but there is a couple of years to determine who will be the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time

As Rafael Nadal pumps his arms into the air for the 11th time at a French Open Final, his success is becoming more than a historic triumph or even the journey that eventually may have him pegged at the greatest tennis player of all time, rather than the storied career of Roger Federer - it is whoever writes the the greatest chapter in the next five years that will determine the lasting legacy of what definitely are the two greatest tennis players of all time, if not of all time to come.

Yet it is not his tennis success or prowess that has me personally fascinated with Rafael Nadal.  I am not typically a star fucker, I don't invest in celebrity the way many people do, but because many people do, it is what brings in the big bucks in this sport.  So there is nothing good or bad about being a fan (no matter how fanatical) but there is this alternative space of looking at this man from what is IMHO his most significant strength - his strength of will and work rate.

Maybe in the past he worked himself too hard rather than work smarter on and off the court.  Off the court in the past he simply has not relaxed enough, pushing his body to breaking point and breaking his body as a result.  Now with Carlos Moya as his coach, he has entered a new renaissance in his game - ensuring that his natural ability is coupled with sports science and today's win at Roland Garross is interesting because it is now 20 years ago when Carlos Moya himself won his one and only French Open title.

So this buzz is about the work that Rafa puts in - not just to be a winner but personifying who he is as a human being and the underlying character and strength of will that is the real value of studying this supreme athlete.  Ironically the demons that inhabit Rafael Nadal's mind were in the past driven by deep driven insecurities.  Perhaps the straight set win today that represents his second straight sets French Open win - speaks to a strengthening of mind, together with the legendary strength of physical will he always has had.  He has only won in straight sets in five of the eleven French Open finals, and to see him win two straight sets games this year and last year - is in itself a remarkable story - but it is also for me, a story of overcoming insecurities that have dogged his career. 

If he did not possess a remarkable strength of will, perhaps Rafael Nadal may never have won anything much and may possibly be a victim of being his own worst enemy.   There are people in this world who were blessed with talent but not the will or mindset to shape that talent.   Nadal then is equally representative of the doubts we mere mortals (in comparison) face in our own lives.  It is a self-defeating cycle to focus on these inner demons within us, because thoughts have the capacity to eat away at our talent and potential, creating if we are particularly weak willed self-fullfilling prophesies that eventually serve to waste or severely hamper or under use our capabilities.

Instead in celebrating the will of Rafa and the psychological overcoming of thoughts that may help us in the short-term but whose impact is far different over the long-term, this is my own personal takeaway - to know that those we consider to be the best, or most supreme expression of human excellence are subject to the same limitations we all face.  To see him drive those demons away and in turn create the second coming of Rafa Nadael, is amazing.  What makes it even more pertinent is that he is now as a tennis player - an elder statesman of the sport - and we live in a time where the young are venerated and the old are subject to ageist prejudice - there is a certain rooting also for the "older guyer" who now faces off against the young guns.

There are some very talented young guns emerging on the tennis scene and in players like Alexander Zverev, these are young guns who already pushing the top players to their maximum performance.  Yet Zverev himself was physically injured - sufficiently to let today's runner-up (Thiem) reach the semifinal and then today's final - otherwise this French Open Final would have been a classic between the old legend and the young gun who aims to be recorded as the next generation of greats.  Another great of the game Djokovic was meant to be the King of the court - and while his star shone greatly a few years ago, injury also has got the better of him and he is no where near being the player at the height of his game, which makes Federer and Nadal's ability to stay consistently at the top level of the game for a couple of decades even that more remarkable.  In the end what I celebrate today is not actually the win by Nadal, but the meaning of work and how Nadal's ability to transform his work into what was frightening dominance today - make him an inspiration for the workable mortals we are.

Lisa Vanderburg 14/6/2018 · #10

Ya know, there is something quite unique in the solo-player games like tennis; unlike darts, golf, Grand Prix etc. It's the toment (for lack of a better word) that makes those that excel so very if we were in their shoes. Certainly I find the Nadal's & Federer's of these days are a better-honed piece of art in the Grand Slams. Seems to me the cost of their sucess is written in sweat. Great article @CityVP 🐝 Manjit!

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CityVP 🐝 Manjit 13/6/2018 · #9

#8 Thanks for the heads up about the missing L in "Nada", have corrected that. I type at the speed of thought :-)

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In science, we say the weakest point in a system determines the overall strength of the system. So, by stretching the muscles of the body and make them antifragile, is not necessarily the critical success factor. This lines in the weakest muscles and namely in Nadal's case, the muscles of the brain. So, I am in agreement with your writing "..were blessed with talent but not the will or mindset to shape that talent' is a plausible analysis.
I wonder why you @CityVP 🐝 Manjit wrote "Rafael Nada's mind were in the past driven by deep driven insecurities"! Nada instead of Nadal was it because you were overwhelmed with his success story?

CityVP 🐝 Manjit 11/6/2018 · #7

#3 When it comes to a measure to how this translates to my work life, I am one who opens the ledge of work with both the professional debit side and the personal credit side. Brady and Lebron, like Nadal and Federer have what I call a great ledger. Not so Tiger Woods whose personal credit side is fully on record and Flo Jo was most probably involved in performance enhancement but we will never know because she retired from athletics the moment random drug testing protocol became enforced. We also know that the Seoul Olympics sprint races were tainted and that Ben Johnson was the fall guy in a sport where doping was rife. So on the professional debit of Flo Jo I have very strong question marks that make me tend to believe that the evidence in her performance and health situations lends to the suspicion of a doping program. Nadal has been accused of doping in the past, but what is important about performance enhancement is the physical aspects of a person and in that regard Nadal was always superbly fit - whereas Flo Jo went from mediocre to world beating in a couple of years - and that just does not add up, well at least on my own ledger - and I am not jingoistic or a fanatic - the ledger I want to keep is one that I consider people like Tom Brady, Lebron James, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have demonstrated, if not inspired by their own personal conduct and professional practices.

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CityVP 🐝 Manjit 11/6/2018 · #6

#2 Bjorn Borg will always have a legendary status in Tennis. The game has changed from the finess game of Borg's time to the science-based power game today. Borg retired because he wanted to play with a wooden racket, at a time when racket design provided more technical edge. We do know how Borg fared moving over to a more technical and power-based game because he made that comeback in 1991 - but I agree that he is the last of the golden age of tennis players, when Tennis had less to do with fine-tuned equipment and laser-equipment determining if the ball is in or out. Much of that change is born out in this article The only way to know for sure is if the game stipulated the use of wooden rackets, because as soon as graphite came in, we know what happened in Borg's return in 1991.

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Paul Walters 11/6/2018 · #4

Bravo !!!

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Bill King 10/6/2018 · #3

Nadal seems to be one of those athletes you have to stop what your doing to watch. Tom Brady, Lebron, Tiger Woods, Flo Jo ( Florence Griffith Joyner) and Bolt in their primes I think have all made me late for something. It almost seems to become more than just a game or a race. Nadal's straight set win Friday was so quick I didn't have to worry about being late!

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Chris 🐝R Guest 10/6/2018 · #2

Lovely articulation of the essence of Rafael the man and the tennis supremo @CityVP 🐝 Manjit.

Personally imho Bjorn Borg will always remain the greatest player of all time by a long way whatever the statistics may dictate.Besides the purity and technical perfection of his baseline game what I truly admired was his stoicism and unflappable temperament. The legendary 5 set epic battles with Connors and McEnroe remain etched in my mind as the greatest matches of all time.

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