Daniel loves sports. While most of his enthusiasm and own competitive experiences are team sports-oriented, he has increasingly built his passion and admiration for tennis over the years. The following thoughts are driven by the recent introduction of a new team competition on the highest level of professional tennis.
When Two GOATs Play Together
Tennis Unrivalled. Where Rivals Become Teammates.
The Laver Cup recently completed its 3rd instalment and has immediately had a monumental impact to the sporting landscape. The event pits the world's greatest tennis players into a team competition Europe v World. Hold on a minute. Tennis is an individual sport. In fact, arguably tennis is one of the most glaringly individual sports that exists on a top level of spectatorship. Once the match begins, every player is totally on their own. No teammate is on the court. No one is there to inspire. No one to pick them up when they are down. No coach on the bench (only distanced away under strict rules and etiquette not to influence). No friends! Even in boxing, the pugilist gets a chance to check in every three minutes for instructions and encouragement in the corner. While all sports have a reliance on mental fortitude, tennis lands near the top.
It is no accident that the last decade has seen dominance amongst two GOATs (Greatest Of All-Time). While they are physically gifted and enormously dedicated to training and practice, it is abundantly clear the GOATs unprecedented success is driven by what lies between their ears. Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have legendary levels of confidence, positivity and determination. Crucially, they have driven each other to even greater heights and prowess. This should motivate everyone, all of us, to always strive to improve in our own endeavours. As these sporting icons have demonstrated, even the best can get better. These champions have won 39 Grand Slams between them, yet both have pushed each other to adapt, change and evolve their game both mentally and physically. That dynamic is what makes the Laver Cup so special. One time a year, the greatest of the greats, TEAM together. They create an emotional bond. They thrive off camaraderie. They have teammates paired up on the doubles court. They vociferously support and coach each other from the TEAM bench couch stationed just behind their seats, normally lonely islands at all other events. When Rafa watches Roger and other Team Europe players in action, you could forgive the onlooker for thinking his emotional display more resembles Rafa watching a Real Madrid match, where he is an ardent supporter. When Roger and Rafa watched Alexander "Sascha" Zverev carry the responsibility of playing a 10 point Laver Cup Super Break for the competition's silverware, you better believe they had something to say. Leaving out the profanity-laden details, the sage wisdom emphasised positivity. Roger and Rafa focussed Sascha to feed off the TEAM and the rabid supportive fans, and to channel battle cries and positive emotion on every point. Spoiler alert - Europe won.
Where competitors become teammates. And teammates who develop and reinforce friendships. Where we mere sporting mortals can watch multiple GOATs on the court, playing together and supporting each other to triumph and overcome adversity. Long live legendary Laver Cup.
Inspire your FRIENDS to reach new heights and feed off their support. Thank your FRIENDS for making you better and always strive to be there for them. As Rafa eloquently expressed about playing with a TEAM as compared to other tournament experiences, "Losing is less painful together, and winning is better."