From gods to mortals

Saving grace is they are such champions that they have behaved most gracefully in defeat

Sport has often been likened to a bewitching temptress smiling on an athlete one day and scowling at him the next. Sport also has this very cruel way of mocking at the greats, especially those who have seen the years roll by without making it appear as if the march of time ever bothers them too much. Rafael Nadal is the waning star now who must be feeling the depressing fall from the heights of Mount Olympus, a sporting demigod descending to Earth to be among the mortals.

Beaten at Wimbledon by the World No. 102 and qualifier Dustin Brown, who has no coach and buys his own racquets, the Spaniard has exited a third Grand Slam major this year without even getting into the last eight. For a 14-time Grand Slam champion, who once won an epic final on these famous grass courts against another all-time great in Roger Federer, this must be the clearest sign that the decline is not a temporary loss of form attributable to a fitness problem, or loss of motivation, or even age as he is still on the right side of 30. Four Wimbledon losses to players ranked 100 or below in the last four years do reiterate that grass was always his Achilles’ heel whereas the red clay of Roland Garros was his impregnable fortress; this, too, too was breached definitively this year.

Federer’s fall may not have been as precipitous as Nadal’s, but in his case, too, the march of time has had its way. The saving grace is they are such champions that they have behaved most gracefully in defeat.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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