Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Rafael Nadal a class act in Wimbledon defeat

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts as he speaks to members of the media during a press conference following his defeat to Steve Darcis of Belgium in their Gentlemen's Singles first round match on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Thomas Lovelock/AELTC - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts as he speaks to members of the media during a press conference following his defeat to Steve Darcis of Belgium in their Gentlemen's Singles first round match on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Thomas Lovelock/AELTC - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26:  Roger Federer of Switzerland speaks to members of the media during a press conference on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Thomas Lovelock/AELTC - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Roger Federer of Switzerland speaks to members of the media during a press conference on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Thomas Lovelock/AELTC - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Eugenie Bouchard of Canada smiles during her Ladies' Singles first round match against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Eugenie Bouchard of Canada smiles during her Ladies' Singles first round match against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

He may have exited on the opening day but Rafa Nadal still managed to light up SW19 with his class.

It is generally accepted that this is a golden age for men's tennis with Nadal, Federer, Dojokovic and Murray serving up classic encounters with incredible regularity.

But off the court, they usually match their superhuman exploits with a humility and respect rarely found in high level sport.

King of Clay Nadal triumphed at the French Open for a record eighth time just two weeks ago and was one of the favourites for glory at Wimbledon but, against the gutsy Belgian Steve Darcis, on Monday, his knees betrayed him.

On three occasions he was prodded by the gathered media to explain how his knees were the main reason for defeat but he flatly refused.

Instead, Nadal lauded the victor time and time again.

Contrast such an attitude with that of pampered footballers, who dive at the first opportunity and cry with the verve of a new-born baby – not to mention the myopic managers – when a match has not gone their way.

Nadal is not only arguably the finest player to have graced a tennis court but he also happens to be a perfect role model for any young kid seeking to make it to the summit of sport.

Indeed, his autobiography is a must-read as it reveals the standards of discipline, humility and work ethic that turned him into the ultimate sporting champion.

Local juniors – and their parents – could do worse than to go and buy a copy.

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