There is no other remedy, but one is concerned about writing about the magnitude of Rafa Nadal. Because Nadal explains himself, and not by the simple readers of results. He is much more than 14 musketeer trophies, than 22 very large ones. This tennis player, lame just a few weeks ago, transcends any consideration. It is ridiculous to spread any cataract of adjectives, all already groped to infinity with the figure of the Balearic in the middle. It is nursery school to even suggest that he is the best Spanish athlete of all time. Popular demoscopy testifies to this without possible amendments, without stopping to verify the context of each one. Classifying, debating, is one of the national sports. As if saying he is the best is enough when it comes to Nadal.
The Manacor tennis player is the pinnacle of Spanish sport. It is the sublimation of the road that the pioneers (Lili Álvarez, La Pulga de Torrelavega…) glorified, glorified desert heroes (Santana, Paquito, Nieto, Seve…), shone the haunted of Barcelona 92 and French roads (Cacho, Arantxa , Miriam Blasco, Indurain…) and the icons of this century injected universality (Iker, Iniesta, Gasol y Gasol, Cal, Deferr, Mireia, Craviotto…). Everyone, and so many not mentioned, excited people, that’s what sport is all about. And emotions are free, although with Nadal they flow and flow whether you like it or not.
So what the hell to write? Impossible to live up to genius. Absurd to claim any originality. Among other things, because what has fascinated him the most about Nadal has not been his fruitful titles. Neither are his legs of marble, his herculean biceps, his heart in the bones in every game, his worn soles, his bravery, his admirable general composure in frequent successes and rare defeats. The spellbinding thing about this paladin is his mental strength, territory off limits to outsiders.
Tennis, like chess, is played in silence. The tennis player plays solitaire with himself for hours, sometimes many, for hours and hours and hours. strenuous. Agony. There are no regrets, because there is no longer a solution and the next point runs over you. The parties, most eternal, are a Ferris wheel. You have to be prepared to temporize the highs and come to terms with the lows. It is logical that many tennis players do not support mental squeezing, especially when there are no other escape routes than getting into a smack with the racket, causing altitude sickness to the referee on the stairs or shaking the clientele with a ball. Inadvisable vents all of them.
Nadal has his tilas, win or lose, which disturbs the opponents who are unable to assess whether the dead man is alive or the living dead. His Cartesian quartermaster is unique, authored from the beginning with Uncle Toni in the base camp of Manacor. There is something military when he takes two moons to get out or goes to the rest chair that serves as a divan. In both situations, while he ruminates and processes the shock inside, Nadal whispers with the dripping headband, the twin bottles of water, the oppressive pant of his pants… Everything millimetrically under control, symmetries and gestures that refer to the Rafael of the clan Nadal and the Rafa of the people. The Nadal of a lifetime, with 14 Roland Garros or a cookie trophy. He evolved his tennis, he chiseled his muscles with concrete. But the enthroned Nadal never denied the cadet Nadal. Skill and will. All engraved on fire. We never saw a flat Nadal, without bravery. Not even with the body crushed by so much whiplash.
Federer plays with the tailcoat and it sure has fragrance after marathon matches. Djokovic is a rogue-like jackal. And Rafa, Rafael, may not beat them with the backhand, the drive, the topspin or the damn drop shots. Where it surpasses them is in the ability to concentrate, in sliding down the slide of feelings. He is not weakened by bad games nor confused by good ones. The one who resists wins, as Camilo José Cela would say. Nadal has a prodigious head, for enlightened; but, above all, for his subscription to the resistance, for the permanent hanging of him in the games in which only his legs leave to go to the dressing room or talk to the physio. And it is that good head that now deliberates with the future. The thriving youngsters will not retire him. It is not a question of age. Only Nadal will beat Nadal. And for a damn foot.
Heroes are in perpetuity. Spain has had many, from the indomitable Quixotics who rebelled against Franco’s fallow land to the more affluent contemporaries. In such Cainite territory, the seed of the two Machadian Spains, he has been able to structure an entire country through a planetary sport that is about to close the best cycle in its history. That story in which Nadal, a kid from Manacor, knew how to line up the towels like no one else. That blow proved impossible for the Federers and Djokovics of this world to counter. The rest is already known. There will be better ones, but there won’t be another Nadal. The only one was educated to be Nadal and play like Nadal. He yes, agree, the best Spanish athlete. But what the hell does it matter when it comes to this totemic athlete. So stubborn that she can still be seen with a reel. There is no longer a place for articles like this, because Nadal is much more. One feels unable to encompass him with words. It is possible to be amazed, to be ecstatic, to be amazed…
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