The Dream. The Vision. The Hope. The Desire. The Passion. The Conviction. It is this fire within that drives the best from oneself.
Few believed him when he said "I want to win Wimbledon."
Just a mere clay-court specialist, how could he?
The Tennis World laughed it off back then, when hardly anyone expected him to reach a Wimbledon final, let alone repeat it again, come even closer and finally, attain the glorious crown.
But yes, he did. “I would hate to lose knowing that I hadn’t given my all,” says the warrior who fights till the last drop of sweat.
July 6, 2008 bore witness to a magnum opus wielded by two tennis titans, who have carved their own niche, and etched their own significant place in tennis history.
And on a day the Tennis World shall never forget, a match that has been lauded the greatest ever, with a virtuosic display of patience and precision, dexterity and prowess, it was the Mallorcan who hung on in optimism, and emerged the victor, the deserving champion.
Indeed, it was a realization of years of perseverance and hard work.
He never dreamt too far ahead, he could not put all his thoughts into coherent articulation, but his actions spoke volumes for him, as dreams undreamt evolved into reality as he achieved the phenomenal, to rewrite for himself the annals of tennis, with the foundations laid on clay.
He was a man who built his game on precision, focus, and tenacity tinted with originality.
Rafael Nadal’s shock loss at Roland Garros 2009, the problem of a persistent knee injury and the possibility of a small but lingering mental setback, some seem to be fairly convinced to expect a below-par performance by the Spaniard.
And meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the pressure is off and the Swiss Maestro is as ecstatic as his astronomical number of fans. Blissful in his demeanour and play. And so, Wimbledon 2009 shall be Roger’s, they say.
Fans, media and tennis pundits call clay ‘a favourite surface’ for Nadal, but his own words are put carefully as ‘a surface on which I achieved great success which I’m very happy for.’
But this formidable Spanish conqueror has also emphatically expressed his love for Wimbledon. His dream and desire to win it. And the journey and joy of the achievement, which he still reminisces with elation and bliss.
He may not like to compare grand slams—the French and Australian too have their own significance for him—but Wimbledon will may always have meant a trifle more than the rest.
As his first grand slam outside la terre battue. At the world’s beloved tournament, perhaps because of its uniqueness as the only grand slam on grass, tradition, audience or the name, whatever it maybe, one always considered the most prestigious. The consummation of a long toilsome race.
He gave his best. He chased each ball. He fought every game. He lingered till the end with a never-say-die attitude.
He lived to strive, he lived to fight, he did not assume, and so he continues on the trail of his quest to improve.
And despite all odds, the virile, vivacious Spaniard from Mallorca, who captured hearts round the world, shall emerge the winner once more, I say, because the will power and desire burning in his veins shall drive him there.
To relive that moment. Exhilarating but serene. Intangible yet lucid. Ephemeral yet everlasting.