Nadal 19 and 2 More to be the All Time Greatest — What A Champion

Shyam Ramanathan
4 min readSep 10, 2019

I am totally inspired that Nadal has won the US Open once again winning his 19th grand slam beating Medvedev in the final. Kudos to Medvedev for putting a great fight and he showed that he could be a future champion. What a champion Nadal is winning 4 finals on a surface he was not favored a decade back is amazing indeed. He has put himself in pole position to overtake Federer’s 20. Even if he doesn’t cross over that line the champion qualities he has displayed can never be replaced.

I had written earlier on the champions mindset of Federer and Djokovic. Here are the articles Djokovic Champion Qualities and Federer’s Champion Mindset. However, if I don’t write about Nadal I would be leaving out my favorite player Nadal. While some Federer fans might not want Nadal to win and vice versa I take a nuanced approach to sports. My philosophy is to learn from every winner even if you are not rooting for them. So, I like all 3 of them and all of them are great champions.

Here are the 6 Champion qualities of Nadal.

Self-Belief — I love this word because all of us need to have this if we want to win big. He believes in himself even if no one else does. In 2005 he was considered a clay court specialist and he was someone who had a good chance only in the French open. How he turned that around to win multiple Wimbledon championships, US Opens and Australian Opens is the stuff of legend. The key is never put limits on yourself based on others opinion. As Henry Ford said if I had listened to everyone around me I would have built a faster horse carriage.

Lesson: Believe in yourself when no one else does. Don’t put limits on yourself based on others opinion.

Humility — I have never seen such a humble champion like Nadal. Even though he has beaten Federer in Wimbledon at Federer’s peak he had the humility to always say Federer is the best of all time. He has never forgotten his roots and where he came from. It is easy to get complacent with success but not for a champion like Nadal. Even after every final he always mentions that his opponent has the capability to win multiple grand slams. The mark of a true champion is developing other champions.

Lesson: Stay humble in spite of your achievements. You are only as good as your next win.

Doggedness — If I wanted someone to play for my life it would be Nadal. He has the in the trenches resolve to keep going when the going gets tough. He treats each point as if his life depends on it. Considering what he has achieved probably it does. He has stayed in each game long enough to stay till the end to see final victory. In cricket it would be Rahul Dravid who you would want to play for your life.

Lesson: Persist when the going gets tough because that’s when the tough really get going.

Adaptability — It is grueling to win the French open because of the enormous toll it takes on your body. To come back from your favorite surface to a tougher surface in grass within two weeks is nothing short of sensational. It is adaptability at its highest. He adjusts so quickly. Even in a previous year he won the French Open and still made it to the semifinals on grass. Truly he is one of the best adaptable players I have ever seen.

Lesson: Adapt to the changing conditions as that is the key to win in the 21st Century

Love — Nadal’s love of the game is what keeps him going. After one of his French Open victories, he actually said “Of course I have ambition. But I can’t always be thinking of more. You can’t be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you. I’ve never been crazy about this kind of stuff. You can’t live with that feeling. You have to do your way. I’d love to have 20 like Roger in the future or more, but it is not something in my mind. I know I’ve had an amazing career so I want to keep fighting for these things.” This is the article in BBC Article referencing the above. This says it all about Nadal and how he thinks.

Lesson: Love what you do but never compare yourself with others. Play to a gallery of one which is your own applause.

Relentless — Finally this is the word that brings together all his champion qualities. Just 2–3 years back his end was predicted by many because he puts so much effort into all of his matches. The true test of a champion is to maintain the hunger for a life time. Considering all he has been through the only word I can use to describe Nadal is relentless. He doesn’t study the competition instead he makes the competition study him.

Lesson: Be relentless in the pursuit of your own Everest. Never let any temporary setbacks or illness hold you back. Be in it for the long haul.

There you have it the 6 champion qualities of Nadal. I hope he wins more championships and keeps that hunger going.

The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent my organization. Thanks for reading this post.



Shyam Ramanathan

I am Head of Quality Assurance with expertise in leadership and delivery management. I like reading business books and try to share my learning with everyone.