How I watched the 2012 Roland Garros Mens Final
June 11, 2012 § 4 Comments
This is how I watched the 2012 Roland Garros Men’s Final:
Turn the volume down so I don’t hear the commentators. Five minutes later turn it up because I can’t hear them. Slap my hands against the bed, the wall, my legs. Make a fist so tight my nails dig in. Mutter a constant stream of encouragement (“you’re better than him. You’re going to win this, you hear me?”). Threaten to throw things throw at my TV screen if the commentators continue to talk Djokovic up. Send a silent prayer up to a God I don’t truly believe in.
All of this for a man I’ve never met. A man who in all likelihood I’ll never meet (unless, of course, by good luck or fortune I do get to cover the ATP tour and my request for a one-on-one interview is granted).
This is what I’m like when I watch Rafael Nadal play. Insane. Irrational. Highly emotional.
Throw away logic, embrace the passion
But that is what sport is about – it’s not about logic, it’s about passion.
If you had watched even just the highlights real of the match you’ll know that a huge amount of passion was on display during this mens final.
From Djokovic throwing his racket down in anger in the 5th game of the second set, to his whacking a hole into his seat just two games later (after Nadal broke him with a beautiful cross-court back-hand).
From the Serb’s dejected head, hanging low after hitting that final double fault, to Nadal falling to his knees, hands upon face, and climbing into the stands to embrace his family (for some great pictures, check out QR’s blog).
If it weren’t for passion, we wouldn’t watch sport. Wouldn’t get emotionally involved. It would be a heck of a lot less fun, that’s for sure.
The greatest clay court player of all time?
And so it came to be that after nearly four hours, over two rain-delayed days (I swear the weather-Gods were conspiring to make me a nervous wreck these past couple of days), Nadal won his record-breaking 7th Roland Garros title, beating world #1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
Leading up to and throughout the tournament commentators, previous players and fans alike were asking the question: is Nadal the greatest clay court player the tennis world has even seen?
After a performance where the man from Majorca not only had to battle the man on the other side of the net – a man who had beaten him in three consecutive Grand Slam Finals – but the elements, I, as a completely biased, eye-patch wearing fan would say, without a doubt, “yes.”
How I watched the final, set-by-set
But although he is undoubtedly a fantastic clay-court player, if not the greatest clay court player, Nadal, true to form, didn’t make it easy for his fans to watch.
In a brief(ish) summary this is how I felt during the match…..
Set one: after becoming elated and admittedly shocked to see Nadal race to a 3-0, the heart palpitations started when Djokovic won the next three games to set things square. Moment of relief to see Rafa take the first set 6-4.
Set two: much tsking over Djokovic’s aggressive behaviour, feelings towards him turned around by his sportsmanly action of ‘giving’ Nadal a point. Starting to feel much calmer when Nadal wraps up tit up (after 1st rain delay) 6-3 – thinking, perhaps this will be like 2008 when Nadal beat Federer in straight sets?
Set three: my feelings towards this set can pretty much be accurately summed up by the following sentence: WHAT THE F*** HAPPENED RAFA!!!!!
Set four: during most of this set my mind was occupied with this thought: “please Rafa win, my nerves cannot handle going to a fifth.” Elation and shouting, stupid grin plastered all over my face when Nadal finally wins.
So, now that the match is over, my hands can stop shaking, my stomach can stop turning and my heart-rate can return to normal.
Well, at least until Wimbledon starts. And then the insanity can start all over again.