Two Gentlemen in Paris

Published: June 9, 2014

By Jim Lichtman
Image
Read More

It’s easy to succumb to cynicism from the recent ethics-related scandals causing one to lose sight of everyday acts of civility.

At the end of the men’s final at this year’s French Open, Rafael Nadal stood on the podium to accept the top prize and the crowd’s approval after four hard-fought sets of tennis against his rival Novak Djokovic. Not long after the dust settled on the clay battlefield, the headlines followed.

“Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic to win French Open,”USA Today posted, (June 8).

“Nadal tops Djokovic: 9th French Open, 14th major,” TheWashington Post writes, ,(June 8).

Beyond the statistics, however, there were other elements that made the match special. Both men were gracious in their acknowledgments of each other.

“It’s not impossible,” Djokovic said, “but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, throughout the whole match, on the highest level of performance. I played at the maximum of my power, my strength, and my capability,” Djokovic added, “but Rafa was the best player.”

“Well,” Nadal said, “in matches like this every moment is crucial. All the points are so hard. Playing against Novak always is a great challenge. Every time I have a chance to beat him I am playing at my limit.”

While both men were in top physical condition, Djokovic clearly suffered from an upset stomach in the 81 degree heat and 48% humidity. However, the Serbian player never complained. Nadal also appeared to struggle through a few back problems during the fourth set, but rallied to close out the match.

“For sure the day of today was very tough, very humid,” Nadalsaid. “The combination of two weeks of cold with the drastic change of yesterday and today, so today was the first real day that we play with that conditions. This big change I think affects us, affects our physical performance.”

During the many close line calls, both men remained calm as the umpire left his chair to confirm the ball marks in the clay. The French have yet to adopt the high-tech Hawk Eye used to verify close calls at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Although Djokovic had just come off four recent wins against Nadal, he remained reflective in his post-match press conference.

“My best wasn’t as the best against him in Rome a couple weeks ago … He was a better player in the crucial moments. Of course it’s disappointing for me, but life goes on.”

Acknowledging his rival, Nadal said, “I’m sure that you will win here in the future. I don’t have any doubt about that.”

Two gentlemen met in Paris, both equal in skill and fortitude, and while one came away with a prize, both displayed equal amounts of dignity, respect, and self-determination in pursuit of excellence.

Comments

Leave a Comment



Read More Articles
The Latest... And Sometimes Greatest
Man of 1000 Faces vs. . . .
Silent movie legend Lon Chaney was known as the “Man of a Thousand Faces.” So convincing was Cheney—who developed and applied his own makeup—he could...
April 26, 2024
Principle Before Party
“Duty is ours. Results are God’s.”—John Quincy Adams In 1806, after a series of attacks by Britain on American ships carrying goods, Massachusetts Senator John...
April 23, 2024
We Need the Strength of Heroes
The Date: September 28, 1955 The Place: Yankee Stadium The Event: Dodgers/Yankees, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series Every baseball fan has seen the...
April 19, 2024
A Time of Troubles, A Time of Opportunities
It’s getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of a dark, relentless tunnel of anger and war at home and abroad....
April 16, 2024
Conscience of the Senate
Continued from Tuesday’s commentary, I offer two Senate leaders from the past. Tuesday, I spoke of the integrity of Republican John Williams. Today, I offer...
April 12, 2024
A Long Time Ago in a Washington Far, Far Away. . .
. . . two U.S. Senators, one Republican, one Democrat, showed us the meaning of duty and character. Republican John Williams, a chicken farmer and...
April 9, 2024