When Rafael Nadal teaches us to bounce back

We’ve been out of action for almost 4 weeks now. After the energy of the first few days, we sometimes have the impression that time is suspended, disintegrating, slowing down… The more economic activity shrinks, the more this imposed parenthesis takes on the appearance of a hard blow. How about taking a cue from a champion to get through this ordeal and come out stronger?

In 2007, Rafael Nadal was 21 years old and already the king of clay. Undefeated on this surface the previous year, he has remained in the top two places in the ATP rankings for almost two years, and arrives at the Wimbledon final with the firm intention of beating his eternal rival, Roger Federer. But once again, the English turf brought him bad luck and he saw the cup slip from his grasp in the fifth set, after four break points. As he left the pitch, Rafael was overcome by defeat, before breaking down in tears in the dressing room.

Fortunately, Rafael has a coach, and a good one. His uncle, Toni Nadal, will turn this defeat into a driving force to push him further forward. Faced with the player’s despair that he’ll never be able to win again, he replies: “There’s no reason to cry. What we have to do is keep trying.

Picasso used to say, “When inspiration comes, let it find me working.”

In this life, what depends on us is work. That’s all we can do, work and fight relentlessly.

So Toni and Rafael went to work. Together, they analyzed the athlete’s game, identified his weaknesses and sought strategies to counter them. Rafael has changed his youthful ways to find new attacking tactics. And it worked. In 2008, Nadal played Federer in a spectacular 4:48 Wimbledon final. Just before nightfall, he won in 5 sets and became the first player since Borg to complete the Rolland-Garros/Wimbledon double, before going on to enjoy the career he is now known for.

Wimbledon won’t be taking place this year, but we can each take advantage of this unexpected break to prepare for our next matches. Let’s take the time to analyze our track record, our strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take advantage of this period to look for new strategies, new areas of work. The frenetic pace of our lives has given way to time for introspection and reflection. And this time is never wasted; on the contrary, it’s precious time that will enable us to move forward further and faster…

So if you’re feeling down, think Nadal, and take the time to refine your strategy, without pressure, at your own pace. The recovery will come, and then you’ll be ready to win. Take heart!