Gordon Monson: Here’s a champion we should all emulate

(Lionel Cironneau | AP file photo) Spain's Rafael Nadal, right, and Switzerland's Roger Federer pose with their trophies after the 2011 French Open men's final. Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open final to win his 20th Grand Slam title, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. That ties Roger Federer’s record for most major tennis championships by a man.

Out of the din, out of the fog, out of the noise, here’s a heads up, a clarion call, a positive moment to note.

At long last.

One that is worth paying close attention to and emulating — for people from all walks of life, be it politics, business, social media, sports, whatever, wherever, so many of whom have too few good examples to follow, too few lights to guide them, too few markers by and from which to be properly directed and taught.

Indeed, it’s too often a cold, cruel, classless and sad, sorry, senseless world.

A world full of individuals who not only don’t respect those they oppose or disagree or compete with or against, they show sparse bits of humanity and dignity of any kind in going about trying to achieve whatever it is they aim to gain.

Those folks should stop for a minute and follow the lead of … Roger Federer.

That’s right, a freaking tennis player.

Federer has conquered the brutally competitive world of tennis for many years, becoming what many believe to be the greatest male tennis player of all time, having won a record 20 Grand Slam titles.

There is only one other player on the men’s side to have caused much argument, at least to date, regarding Federer’s greatest-ever status. That would be Rafa Nadal, who on Sunday tied Fed’s Grand Slam title record, winning his 20th by way of a French Open championship, which he won for the 13th time.

Federer and Nadal have had their battles through the years, some memorable matches as they each marched along their own paths toward the sport’s pinnacle.

You could reignite an ongoing explosive argument — and maybe a fight or two — at any pro tennis event by sitting among observers and proclaiming either, “Hey, Roger’s the best ever!” or “Hey, Nadal’s the king of tennis!”

Well. Whatever the eye test says to any individual or group, whatever anyone’s preference is, numerically, they are now tied.

Twenty each.

So, how did Federer respond when Nadal tied him on Sunday?

He tweeted out the following:

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory. It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport. I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone. I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Wait, what?

Yep. That’s what the one said about the other.

How did Nadal react when he was told of Federer’s sentiment?

The other graciously thanked the one.

There’s a whole lot this country, this world could learn from a champion like Federer. Every part, every angle, every level, every corner of it. The man competed — still competes — like a beast. Not once did his demeanor cost him a win, not once did it make him less of a competitor. On the court, he used his hard-earned brilliance to churn toward win after win, championship after championship.

Nadal did and does likewise.

And now, Federer gives his longtime rival a nod, even if Nadal’s achievement might somehow be construed by some to diminish his own standing.

If only leaders and those who fervently follow those leaders in the wide spectrum of other fields, some of them a whole lot more important than tennis, would wake up and fall in line with Federer, this country and this world would be a more civil, more decent, more livable place.

The irony is that even as Rafa Nadal won his latest title, standing now atop the podium with his rival, Roger Federer’s class in making space and accepting the company made his star shine all the brighter.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.

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