He never ever never ever never gives up. On a match. On a set. On a game. On a point. On a shot.
There was a time not long ago when we thought no one in tennis would break Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slams. Then came Roger Federer. And now arrives Rafa.
One of the greatest competitors in the history of sports, I think Nadal will finish his career with more titles than any player before him. With last night's Open he now has 13. He needs five more to pass Federer. He's only 27 years old.
You hear athletes talking about "the zone." It's that rarified air of singular focus where mind, body and spirit get so immersed in the moment that if you walked up and asked them for the time you'd get a quizzical look as to what day it was much less the exact time. Or perhaps you'd get a fist full of their intensity right in your distracted kisser.
Nadal isn't the best player in the history of tennis. But - along with Jimmy Connors - he is the sport's fiercest competitor. He takes his tube of talent and potential, and painstakingly squeezes every ounce of performance from it.
When elite skill morphs with relentless will, locally we get guys like Bill Bates and Nolan Ryan and J.J. Barea and Emmitt Smith. On a wider scope, you get Rafael Nadal and the rest of the greatest competitors in the history of sports ...
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