Thursday, January 24, 2008

Actual grace after defeat

Credit Rafael Nadal. In a sport where grace after defeat is all too rare, the world's #2 ranked men's player took a beating at the Aussie Open semifinals losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Nadal committed only 12 unforced errors in the whole match (the poorly named tennis stat that tracks shots the player hit into the net or out of bounds -- in reality a good opponent will FORCE your "unforced" errors) -- a miniscule amount for a losing player. He took a beating despite just four unforced errors in the first two sets.

Nadal's reaction?

"I was playing fine," Nadal said. "He played unbelievable. Congratulate him."

And Nadal also said no matter what he tried, he had no answers.

"I can't believe some volleys," Nadal said. "I tried to play little bit slower. I tried to play a little bit faster. I tried to play more inside the court, behind the court. No chance. Not today."

Kudos to Nadal -- no excuses, no false congratulations, just simple honesty that the better player won on this day and Nadal was not him.

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