In an epic five setter last night, the world watched tennis legend Roger Federer defeat Rafael Nadal in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 blockbuster at Melbourne’s Australian Open, his first Grand Slam win since 2012.
The match was a magically nostalgic throw back to the early 2000’s, when the pair would frequent tournament finals and every grand slam would be won by one or the other.
The two have met in 12 grand slam finals, Nadal the superior, winning 9 of the 12 slams.
However overall, Roger has won more Grand Slam titles, last night reaching number 18. Legends.
Whilst stats are a fun way to impress your friends and gain popularity with the cool kids in school, I’m going to leave that to the experts (although to be fair I am kind of an expert- I reached section 7 of 9 in the local tennis league in my home town and even got most improved in 2008 from my coach Steve. Thanks Steve).
Instead of stats, I am going to unpack the makings of these legends and tell you what I noticed last night from my couch.
Firstly, you should know that I studied PR not sports science so I looked at the match in a different way from the typical viewer. What my PR brain noticed, perhaps not so ground breaking-ly, was that the world is completely in love with these two men.
I’m talking head over heels, kiss me on the lips in love.
They each possess a certain charisma that transforms them from sporting stars into super stars- people who don’t even like tennis love Roger and Rafa, which is why last night was such a pleasure- it was win-win, as the world adores both.
Having been legends for so long, the pair have earned an unparalleled level of respect from the world and we love to see them win. Both gentlemen, they have a charming X-factor that makes them stand out from other players. Have you seen their charity ad from 2010? Do yourself a favour and Youtube that gorgeous three-minute vid. It melts a gals heart it really does.
Though there are athletes of arguably equal talent up in the ranks with them, it is the delightful grace in which they carry themselves that sets them apart from the rest and has added to the legend of each.
If there’s one thing Australian’s love it is charisma. If you’ve got personality you’ve got our attention. If you’re a bore then we probably don’t want you and we wont cheer for you. If you’re a poor sport, we may even boo you.
This resonates beyond the world of elite sport and into the real life everyday. If you smile people will probably smile back at you. Except for dogs. Never look a dog in the eye. A rule I live by.
The most magical moment of last night for me was witnessing Roger’s victory speech, as he again proved just how classy an athlete he is and just how much he adores Rafa.
“Tennis is a tough sport, there’s no draws but if there was I’d be happy to share it with Rafa tonight…. Keep playing Rafa please. Tennis needs you. Keep doing everything you do.”
I can think of a few younger players who would benefit from learning the class of these pros, if only to propel their own careers- surely Roger and Rafa wouldn’t have achieved the significant amount of success they have without the undying support of the world.
So thank you Roger and Rafa, for being the hardworking, gracious, ball swatting magicians you are. We adore you.