Although it has taken Rafael Nadal less time to complete tennis’ Career Grand Slam than Roger Federer and Andre Agassi, for the last two weeks it probably seemed like an eternity. The weather over the two-week period at Flushing Meadows threw everything but the kitchen sink to throw off Nadal’s resolve. It started with blistering heat, then switched to unruly wind, and lastly the rains came, pushing back the men’s final a full day and then again mid-match on Monday. However, Nadal’s determination at this year’s U.S. Open was more relentless than New York’s recent weather.
On his path to becoming just the seventh man to win all four majors over the course of his career, Nadal was undeniably on a mission. Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets on Monday afternoon by forcing Djokovic into making mistakes with more power and a faster pace than Djokovic could keep up with. Nadal seemed to falter only once in the entire tournament, where in the second set of the match Nadal made a handful of unforced errors that ended up giving the set to Novak 7-5. For the briefest of moments, it looked like the weather, or something, might have shaken Nadal’s march to the Slam Title that has eluded him for seven years.
Just as quickly, it was back to business for Rafa, who finished off Djokovic over the next two sets to become the first lefty since John McEnroe to do so in 1984. Nadal’s first U.S. Open Title should help to silence the naysayers that have categorized him as unable to play on hard courts, as well. With this U.S. Open Title, Nadal becomes the second youngest player in tennis history to win nine titles. Only Bjorn Borg has reached the feat quicker. Even the man who most people compare Nadal to, Roger Federer, took nine months longer to reach nine titles.
Now that Rafael Nadal’s silenced doubters and joined the list of tennis greats that includes Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t belong. It’s also hard to not think of the footwear lines that have followed the above names over the years.
For Nadal’s ninth Grand Slam title, he decided on a pair of Player Exclusive Hot Lime Nike Courtballistec 2.3s that have the potential to be enshrined in sneaker culture almost as certainly as he will be in tennis culture.
Bright colors and Rafa’s emotional play are reminiscent of John McEnroe and Andre Agassi, and also raise a question: Could a revival of tennis footwear follow?
My fingers are crossed. How about yours?
images via yahoo