The backdrop of the Eiffel Tower; the sunset ; the rose; the proposal; the French Kiss and finally your crush:- French flavors to spice up any dull love story; however this one had a twist, a big one. The Eiffel Tower was there but only distant, the sunset was present but only after the final showdown, the roses were there but only by the court-side, the proposal was there but only for the victory, and instead of falling for the crush, you immortalized a sporting legend.
Back to the summers of 2005: unlike the cliche of love at very first sight, the defining point of this tale was his resilient fight. On his 19th birthday, he faced the undisputed king of tennis at his prime,only to defy the odds at the end of a three hour grueling encounter. It wasn’t the victory rather the manner he embraced it that stole the show, despite the elation the respect for his opponent sealed the deal. “I’m sorry for you,” he said and with that statement of his all other sports victory speeches were put to bed by this teen’s humility. In couple of days he conquered the Coupe des Mousquetaires or as they call it The Musketeers’ Trophy and a fan’s spirit was captivated not only by splendor tennis put on show but the mental strength the teen possessed at such a slender age.
For the next three years, the Maestro-Challenger rivalry turned many a new page; keeping the tennis fraternity at the edge of the seats. While others in the league had no answer to the Maestro’s elegance on display, the challenger chased down everything back with a vengeance. All these years while he added to the collection of French Crowns, he made huge strides towards improving his play at other major showdowns. The clay court wonder-kid was now a formidable challenge on the lawns of SW19, and when the London drew a close on a rainy July evening, a new tennis star was born. The only thing that didn’t change in the last 4 years was his winning speech, highlighted by “Sorry”, it was full of praise and admiration for the losing king.
Co meth 2009, like other love story cliches when the going is smooth, there has to be turbulence around the corner, this one too had an unheralded villain waiting for a riveting duel. Like the previous years, the round of 16 clash seemed a mere formal contest, however he was silenced by a Swede’s brutality, the forehand wasn’t working and the ground strokes had no bite, he went down in 4 sets without a fight. The defeat was tough, while the mental strength was at its peak, their were scars left due to the physical demeanor of his play and the absence from the field raised further eyebrows.
A year later when he arrived back to the red clay, there was less of romance to start with, this time the challenger was the king and the field was full of new entrants. Destiny had its way and the fierce forehand had the final say, he thumped upon the Swedish Villain in the finale and revenge was a dish well served. The defeat in his courtyard had made him stronger and his mettle carried him victorious on frontiers unheard of. The romance flourished for the next half a decade, each time the challengers getting closer to the winning crown, however his grit and vigor carrying him to the finishing line.
Similar to an another common love story cliche :-“All good things must come to an end”; this French affair too drew towards a bitter end. The strength of the forehand, the chasing of the long balls, the fighting spirit all looked rusty with the growing age , there was a sudden dip in the King’s sublime and the Court Philippe Chatrier was no longer the romantic onset. Finally in the summers of June 2015, the French love story drew curtains in the scenic beauty. When we look back to the story like all great love stories, this one leaves behind enough wonderful moments which epitomizes the message :-” Its never the destination where we end up at, it’s always the romantic journey undertaken that matters”.