Rafael Nadal was exactly like any other Spaniard on Sunday afternoon: esctatic that Spain's soccer team earned a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup final.
The only differences were that Nadal was in the stadium in Johannesburg, went to the locker room after the game to converse with the players and was able to pose for pictures with the famous gold World Cup trophy.
Oh, and all that came exactly one week after winning Wimbledon. Maybe it wasn't exactly the same experience. However, the emotions felt by Nadal and his countrymen may have been on par. "I cried like a baby," Nadal said after the victory. The eight-time Grand Slam champion has long been a huge soccer fan.
His uncle, Miguel, played for Spain in three World Cups and he's a big supporter of the Spanish club team Real Madrid. Recently, Nadal became a part owner of his hometown team, RCD Mallorca. The World Cup was different. It was an escape and a diversion. There was no pressure on him to do anything other than cheer like crazy and have some celebratory cerveza afterward.
Instead of being the one people root for, Nadal was the one doing the rooting. That role reversal has to be liberating. Take a look at this picture of Nadal with the World Cup trophy, then view this picture from the Wimbledon trophy ceremony. He looks thrilled in the latter.
The former shows sheer, unadulterated joy. "We have to celebrate for a whole year," Nadal later told the Spanish newspaper, Marca, "because this is unbelievable. It is very difficult to repeat this."