The ode to tennis ends, more than five hours of sweat and glory, and the gladiator gets on a stationary bike. A yellow and black roller adapted to the dimensions of Rafa Nadal with a regenerative purpose, which is common practice in any great stage of cycling. Roll for 20 or 30 minutes so that the blood continues to circulate through the body and speed up physical recovery. It is the lactic acid toll, the indicator that detects fatigue or lack of energy. hitting the pedals, Nadal tries to eliminate the waste released in his muscles after a high-intensity competitive effort, such as his duel with Daniil Medvedev.
Tennis legends like Rod Laver, the eighty-year-old Australian tennis player who was a forerunner with his 11 Grand Slam titles and who gives his name to the facilities of the magnificent Melbourne Park on the banks of the Yarra River, pass by on the exercise bike of the Balearic Islands.
next to Nadal comments the play Charly Moyá, finalist in the 1997 Australian Open, friend of the champion and current trainer who took the reins from Uncle Toni to train the machine.
Together with them, he supervises the activation session on the bicycle Rafael Maymó, a key shadow character in Nadal’s life, his trusted physiotherapist, always by his side for half his life and perhaps the person who best knows the champion’s body because he feels it daily.
The yellow bike is part of the epilogue to the final of the Australian Open that has thrilled the audience, Nadal and his court and millions of Spaniards on the other side of the television or computer. The best Spanish athlete in history has been stunned, as if paralyzed after the volley that Medvedev did not reach and that closes a sensational match, all epic, will and example of the desire to excel.
Nadal no longer freaks out like he did in the early days, when he would roll around on clay in his green tank top, capri pants and wild-looking natural mane. He is moved to win the irascible Russian, covers his eyes to hide his tears and gives several left-footed shots of pent-up rage. He is a serene and full winner who goes to the black box where his entourage suffered. Moyá, his manager Carlos Costa, his coach Marc López, his press officer Benito Pérez-Barbadillo, and above all, the tennis player’s father, Sebastián. Nadal embraces everyone, but with his father he stops time in an endless kiss, cheek to cheek, so many messages and experiences in an image that lasts a few seconds.
Australia is an exemplary country. And Melbourne is exemplary in its cheerful spirit, in the citizen treatment, in the happy cultural and racial mix. Our antipodes give us a great hour to date us with the final. Half past nine in the morning on a sunny Sunday in Spain, churros or toast to whet your appetite, one morning throwing rackets with Nadal, turning the wrist with his drops until lunchtime. Magnificent desktop with the triumph of the Spanish.
The Aussies go with Nadal, they staple to his left foot. Medvedev is great, a rock from the back of the court, but he is unfriendly and quite superior in the first two sets. The public at Rod Laver opts for the Balearic and the Russian does not understand it. Any stand always goes with the weak, as has happened for years at Roland Garros with the Spanish’s opponents. They want excitement, competition, rivalry…
Medvedev is a bullet between point and point. The ball boys give him the balls and he does not reserve. Take out in a jiffy. Nadal, who is ten years older, demands time to place himself on more than one occasion. It actually asks for air. We already know that the Spanish are patient in their relationship with the clock. His liturgy on the serve is worthy of study. The hand to the rear, the review of the ears, the nose, the forehead, the sweat that sinks into his wristband despite the fact that on his right arm he wears a blue watch that bothers him, the multiple bounces to the ball before launching the play. Desperate for any adversary.
In the final stretch, Medvedev accuses the punishment. He requires physio treatment on his quadriceps and battle again the chair judge. You are right in the complaint, part of the public distracts him by talking or shouting between the first and second serves. But it fails in the forms. “The stadium is full of brainless idiots. His life must probably be very bad,” he spits. Nadal, not a gesture, remains in his mental lair until the end.