So with World #2 Roger Federer out of the way, World #1 Rafael Nadal confirmed his status as the Best Player in the World in defeating World #3 Novak Djokovic to win the 2010 US Open. (Click here for outstanding video and Greg Garber piece on ESPN’s site.)
How did Nadal do it? With a 66% first-serve percentage, crazy accurate crosscourt backhand winners that “didn’t seem geometrically possible” (Garber), and overall, riding a sense of destiny that was clearly too much for opponents to handle. At 24, Nadal has put it all together – and in the last 3 months has won Grand Slams on clay (French Open), grass (Wimbledon), and now hard court.
How’d he get here? No doubt like any other Best Player: great genes, practice, passion, practice, athleticism, practice, focus. And practice. Here’s a little video montage of very young Rafa to not-that-long-ago Rafa. Turn down the sound after you click play to spare yourself having to listen to the unforgivably lame musical soundtrack – but check out Nadal’s incredible quickness and ability to change direction even as a teenager.
To this day, Nadal sounds completely committed to constantly improving his game – which cannot be good news for any other male tennis player on the ATP circuit.
Congratulations, Rafael. Are you the best ever?