At the close of play late last night, most tennis fans would've believed that world number one Rafael Nadal's hopes of winning this year's Wimbledon title would end in a manner not too dissimilar to the despair in which his charge at this year's Australian Open ended.
Reports this afternoon, though, aim to put any lingering doubts about his physical fitness to rest. In a short message from his Facebook account, Nadal delivered what must be welcome news to his legions of fans:
"Good morning everybody. Yesterday after the match I went to take an MRI at a London hospital. During the match I thought I had something serious but as the match went through the pain got better and thankfully the tests don't show an injury. Today I will practice at 4.30 pm and I'll play tomorrow. Thanks all for the support."
The immensity of this news will rarely be paralleled. At moments during last night's match, one couldn't help but feel that if Juan Martin del Potro won the match, the competitive edge of this year's Wimbledon would've been lost and Roger Federer would've claimed—and even possibly strolled to—another Grand Slam title. Although the feeling has allayed, it lives to fight another day.
That Nadal could play as well as he did in the circumstance he was in against a player of the symbolic nature of del Potro is an ode to the spirit of a champion present in Nadal. Six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker put it this way:
"Nadal is a worthy Wimbledon champion and a worthy world number one. In all my years in tennis I have rarely seen a player of his calibre. I really admire him."
Nadal's outlasting of del Potro yesterday, coupled with the news of his being in tip-top shape today, leads to me believe that he is finally the favorite for the Wimbledon title—more importantly, though, I think it will have forced the rest of the field to concede that he is playing at or very near the top of his game.
And that, for them, isn't welcome news.