Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rafa's 2013 - a tale of Recovery from Tragedy, Human Perseverance and Reclaiming World #1



After a long 7 months layoff from tennis because injury, trained and trained, day in and day out. He missed out on the US Open and the Australian Open. Instead of rushing to jump back immediately, he fought perhaps the greatest battle of his life.

Uncertainty during difficult times

In his book, Rafa, he confesses about how his greatest fear - inertia. If he had to stop playing tennis even for a few days, what would happen? It has been ingrained as deep as breathing into nearly every day of his life since a child. Being able to put it on hold for over half a year and believe he could return, means his faith is truly strong.

Admittedly there was doubt for even the most passionate Nadal fans. The big question to the entire tennis world was if - not just when - he would ever return to the game.

Staying Focused on Rehab

Following doctors orders, he put away his tennis racket and did not play any tennis for 7 months! Always in the gym, stretching, strengthening, doing all the workouts he could without injuring himself in rehab. Updating his facebook page weekly with pictures in the pool or relaxing with his family - nowhere near a tennis court. He was spurred on by the inspiring encouragement from fans; Rafa pressed on and stay loyal to his team's advice.

The test of patience

Watching his rivals climb over him and his rankings - I'm sure it must have been painful to be completely absent in nearly 3 Grand Slams.

Patiently, he relinquished the US Open Hard court season, the Indoor European season, the year ending ATP World Tour finals. Even then after the new year, he tested the waters carefully yet listened to his body and his coaches - skipping the Australian Open.

The thousands of ranking points slipped away; millions of dollars in prize money forfeited; optimism followed by caution to wait just a little longer, then a few weeks more... the tennis world wondered if this was the end.

Only he would be able to show the world if he could rise again...

Then one title after another, starting with a ATP 250 final, and from there his confidence grew and his body became stronger...

  • Brazil Open
  • Mexico Open
  • Indian Wells BNP
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Rome
  • Roland Garros
  • Montreal
  • Cincinatti
  • US Open

Ultimately, 2013 World #1, ATP Comeback Player of the Year, and 10 titles dominating almost every major hard court and clay court tournament on the tennis tour.

Year of Greatness: Reborn

Rafa not only came back in 2013, it turned out to be his best year of his career. The world witnessed a legend who crystallized the competitive tennis fuel in his soul so completely. In his essence so dedicated to the sport (every atom of his being, as he put it) that nothing could stop him.

The half-time intermission was over, he was ready. Not just 60% or 80% or 90% but his mind/body was hungry for it - like a predator that had not feasted. Absolutely determined. driven. unstoppable.

How many professional athletes in Any sport can go in into rehab for 7 months, come on the field in mid-season and still regain the pinnacle of champions by year's end.

Great Champions find a way. Vamos Rafa. See you in 2014!

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