Rafael Nadal’s victory over the Russian Daniil Medvedev, at the Australian Open, will be remembered as one of the greatest feats in Spanish sport, not only by the great Balearic tennis player. However, the dramatic development of the match does not reflect all the epic of Nadal’s victory. It is true that he overcame a score of two ‘sets’ to nil, when everything and everyone considered him defeated. His mental strength, his resilience in the face of adversity and his iron will to win gave him victory after more than five and a half hours of an intense and harrowing match. The extraordinary thing about this victory is that it was achieved after an injury that kept Rafa Nadal at the crossroads of continuing his career or abandoning tennis, with the mental and physical wear and tear that these uncertainties and stoppages cause in elite athletes, for whom being one hundred percent is not the goal, but your starting point.
Days ago, his suffering against Canadian Denis Shapovalov, with heat stroke and severe stomach pain, was the image of a fighter without conditions, of an athlete who prefers defeat to surrender.
Achieving twenty-one wins in Grand Slam tournaments makes Rafa Nadal the best tennis player in history, although he himself undertook to downplay the significance of this success in his sports career. Once again, Nadal has been able to embody values that transcend sports and rise to the category of social example for all, young people and adults, athletes and non-athletes. Constancy and effort, resistance and will, perseverance and spirit are the traits of a sports career in which Nadal has conceded victories and defeats with equal ease, without being smug about the former and without blaming anyone but himself. himself for the latter. It is the trajectory of an athlete who can already be considered a veteran, with conditions to continue competing at the highest level, but with a rhythm and strength that, logically, will decrease. Nadal is one of those people who guarantee that his farewell, when it comes, will be as worthy as his heyday.
It is not a question of falling into simple messages, but Nadal represents an idea of Spain that is worth defending, that of effort and appreciation for things well done, that of merit and sacrifice, that of excellence and humility. Perhaps that is why there are those who feel annoyed by the figure of Rafa Nadal, whether cleaning the streets of Sant Llorenç from mud, after the torrential rains of October 2018, or congratulating the Armed Forces on Christmas. Nadal embodies those ideas that are not used in the new curricula of our children and young people, confined in bubbles of comfort that deceive them for real life, the one in which you have to sweat, suffer, lose and get up.
Yesterday was a great day for Spain in Melbourne. The best athlete in our history dedicated more than five hours of his life to showing how adversity can be faced. As millions of anonymous people in Spain do on a daily basis, whom we must also remember when celebrating Nadal’s victories, because they are like Nadal, and much better, all of them, than those who invite us every day, from their seats, their rallies and their pamphlets, to live in an easy, mediocre and accommodating Spain. Better, Nadal’s Spain.