The Australian Open has been over for two full days now, but the look of pain on Rafa’s face, and the tears he shed whilst apologizing to the crowd for not being able to deliver a good performance, will resonate with those of us who love Rafa and not just his achievements. The sound of the crowd booing him may always ring in our minds. We will take comfort in knowing that we are not alone; Chris Bradnam, ex British tennis player and Eurosport commentator, described Rafa getting booed as the “worst sound in tennis,” very aptly so.
The vociferous Toni Nadal spoke to The Australian about his nephew’s plight on the night of the match, and true to form, he did not mince his words.
“Just my opinion, but I don’t think the crowd should be doing this.
“Rafael has always given his best at this tournament, all tournaments. He tries to treat all of the people with respect.
“He had to continue. He knows that people have paid money for tickets to be here for the match, the grand slam final. He knows a lot of people are seeing the television. He does not want them to have, how do I say, the stopped show.
“Whatever happens to his body, he will finish for them. The crowd here had always been very good for him and Rafael will not complain about no thing, ever.
“But he is disappointed, of course. I wish it had not been like this for him. He wanted to play for the crowd and if he was not going to win, he wanted Wawrinka to be winning a match point. Not shaking hands when a match is stopped. This is important.”
“The crowd did not know what was happening, I see this. But I think if you do not know something for sure, why say anything?
“Rafael enjoys this tournament, he enjoys this crowd, he loves Rod Laver court. There are good memories here. But I wish people knew what Rafael was trying to do.
“The crowd goes here and there with what they think. They go up and down. Sometimes the crowd don’t think, maybe. They are allowed to be whatever they want, but they should know that Rafael played for them. He knows that if he cannot win, he must finish for the crowd.
“I think they should think about this. He had spirit, I would say, to finish.”
In his post-match interview, Rafa gave full benefit of the doubt to the crowd, saying that he was proud of the way he was treated and supported. An epitome of sportsmanship; and also perhaps why it hurts so much to have it questioned.
Rafa will be back at AO 2015. Meanwhile, stay tuned for another winning season!
All quotes: Crowd’s boos add to pain for Rafael Nadal, says coach Toni by Will Swanton, TheAustralian.com.au. Click on link for full story.