Sunday, 29 January 2017

Defying the odds

If 2016 proved anything it was expect the unexpected, don't believe the polls and that miracles do happen.  But in case you think I am going to stray into politics, forget it.  My highlight of 2016 was Leicester City winning the English Premiership.  At odds of 50,000 - 1 it was nothing short of a miracle and one that was good for the game and the romantics of the world.
Today I witnessed the Australian Tennis Open final between two "old timers" Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Roger had 17 grand slams to his name and Rafa 14.  Now as an ex professional tennis coach I know a thing or two about the game but when the tournament started this was not the predicted final.
The 5 set match was a nail biting classic played to a sell out crowd watched by no less than the legend Rod (Rocket) Laver, an 11 time grand slam holder, in the stadium named after him.  The point of my story is that 6 months ago both Federer and Nadal were injured and nobody was predicting this come back.  But they both believed they would make it back and worked so hard to get their bodies and minds into shape.  During the tournament the youngsters fell away, including Andy Murray, and in the final the level of skill, physical strength, mental toughness and mutual respect for each other was off the charts.  In one utterly stunning rally that Nadal played a cross court squash shot to beat Federer, and without hesitation Federer applauded Nadal and looked him in the eye to show his respect.
So I've taken a few lessons from this match.  These gladiators both wanted to win - it only came down to a few points in the end, but they remained respectful to each other and the game.  They gave everything they had on the day and despite being out of the game through injury they got themselves back in shape to compete at the highest level because they have a will to be the greatest ever tennis player in history - currently Federer is but had he lost the gap in grand slams would have reduced to 2 instead of 4.  They defied the odds, nobody predicted this final at the start of the tournament because they had been injured and they are getting on with a group of talented youngsters taking centre stage. But not today.  So I will use this match to inspire me to get over my chest infection and get back to full fitness .  I'll defy the odds and make 2017 an outstanding season.  And if miracles do come true then maybe Bruce Willis will appear and save the world!

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