15 Grand Slam titles, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, youngest man ever to win a Career grand Slam at 24 and undoubtedly, the greatest clay court player ever (81-1 at the French Open, proof enough?); if tennis is the firmament, Rafael Nadal is possibly the brightest glowing star in there.
By the dawn of the present century, the roster of the top fifty players in the world had one more name added to it, the name of Rafael Nadal Perera. As years rolled by, Rafa faced many adversaries, played some unbelievable matches, matches that were far beyond any mortal’s longest stretch of imagination; lost some, won most.
And then, the inevitable slump; Enter 2014
Tennis pundits and analysts label Rafa “a spent force”.
Was Rafa entering his sunset years?
A fall in form followed by the Big setback. Rafael, despite all his resilience, cut a lone figure in the 2015 French Open semi-final after his shocking loss to a resurgent Novak Djokovic.
Next up is the player who is widely acknowledged as the greatest to have graced the tennis courts ever, Roger Federer. With a record 18 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, Roger or FedEx has won pretty much everything there is to be won, with his name etched in graffiti. He held his #1 ranking for a record 302 weeks, a firm testimony to the elegance, class, and lethality that only the Swiss master is capable of.
And then, all of a sudden, the sun stopped shining on Roger. The 2012 Wimbledon would be his last Grand Slam till the next five years and wherever you looked, you had all the average tennis minds and enthusiasts writing him off.
Having said that, it was almost like cutting off from a jittery, nerve wrecking scene in a movie to the next where the protagonist comes out, victorious. Dramatic in their ways and cathartic in nature, both their comebacks in this very year of 2017, were stuff that fables are made of. After having been written off from pretty much every quarter, while Roger Federer defeated his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, in an epic encounter at this year’s Australian Open final and claimed what many had put past him, his 18th Major Grand Slam title, a record that is as envious as it could ever get; Rafa swept aside (literally and figuratively) every odd stacked against him to conquer a record 10th Roland Garros, a feat (almost a coup at that!) that has very little chance to be emulated, ever again.
The common connector between these two riveting, hair-raising comebacks was, apart from the skill and brilliance, the hunger; the hunger to stay right there at the top, the unlearned and untaught quality to want in to hang in there, the perseverance and motivation; two major hallmarks of somebody who’s seen and done it all.
If you’ve never had a setback, chances are you’ve never given something all that you’ve got. It is because you realize a setback only when you’ve been involved in something, with every inch of bone and every ounce of blood in your body. However, no matter how insurmountable the setbacks may appear, the only thing that can take you through is the want to keep on moving. No matter how gruelling the setback is, hold your chin up. In the hindsight, you are sure to realize how crucial setbacks in hindsight are, in the run up to a terrific career.
Let us now take a look at the 4 best ways to persevere, stay motivated and deliver when the hour is right; this and more, taking example from the men who scripted tennis history.
Take good care of your body and mind
Setbacks might be crushing and downright negative for many. Accept the fact, and believe me it is just fine. Setbacks happen to the best and in no way mean that you should be thrown off your sanity, unless of course you allow it to.
Go easy on your body; try to go to bed at the same time, eat a healthy diet and build yourself a consistent exercise regimen for that steady flow of happy hormones. Invest in your own body and give the fuel that it so much needs and sooner than later, you will be happy to see the way it responds. Be careful not to overwork though, lest is should lead to a stress/strain. Experts say that building a positive system around you that’s focused on nothing but your own well-being can make the ‘getting up on your feet’ part that much easier.
Life lesson from Roger: ‘Sometimes, you have to accept that a guy played better on the day than you’.
What it translates to: Give setbacks the importance they deserve; no more, no less, and you WILL come out stronger.
Do your homework
If you don’t regroup and analyze why the approach you took never really yielded any result, then you are going to miss out on the invaluable life lesson that a particular setback was meant to teach you. Buy some time to make a mental list (or a written list, whichever works well for you) of all the events and circumstances, internal and external, that you think compounded to result in the setback and what could that hitch possibly mean when you put your ultimate objective into perspective. Do your homework well so that you don’t have to sit back contemplating on the same kind of misfortune again.
Life lesson from Rafa: ‘There is no way around hard work. You have to put in the hours, slog it out because there will always be a few things that you can improve’.
What it translates to: Do what you need to do but never shy away from working hard. Work smart, work hard and reflect; the 3 step mantra to success.
Try and do something positive everyday
As corny as it sounds, positivity is certainly the only cornerstone to glory. Defaulting to negativity, self-pity, disgust and depression is easy when faced with a major roadblock. Try and do one good thing every-day so that gives you reason enough to smile and enjoy the rest of the day. When they say that optimism is infectious, they aren’t really over-exaggerating on that one. Inculcate positivity in your daily schedule. It is sure to brush on you for the remainder of the day (and life). Wake up early, go for a sprint, water the plants, involve yourself in some kind of sport, cook up a meal, read something; there are so many ways to positively channel the negativity in you. It’s a good world, after all!
Life lesson from Roger: I am a very positive thinker, and I think that is what helps me the most in difficult moments.
What it translates to: Exactly what you’ve read in the point.
Don’t live in the past
What can pull you down almost every single time you are recuperating from a setback is your tendency to look at the past. Falling back on the good times and reminiscing about them doesn’t do any good. All it produces is a pall of self-pity and self-induced gloom. If the setback happened, there definitely was a reason behind it. Come to peace with it and you will find yourself moving forward.
Life lesson from Rafa: I think I am a good loser, no?
What it translates to: Accept losses and move on; there is always a new loss to lose, Bud!
Well then, will 2017 culminate as the year of two of the greatest icons of modern tennis?While Federer shut up all analysts writing him off for good, Rafa still doesn’t care about what’s written about him. Succeeding in a sport that’s as gruelling as tennis is about never ever giving up. And as Nadal would always vouch for, you’ve got to know how to construct the winning point, be in this fascinating contest of tennis or the brilliant game called life. Know where you stand and you will know where to go!