It’s No Sacrifice!

Two stars & a fan…

Houston. Last night. I hadn’t planned it. I had not set any alarm. Nor had I slept early. And it is the second week of my business travel, so the jetlag factor is not applicable. Yet my sleep had broken. I couldn’t figure out the time. Except, there was no sunrise yet. The city lights were dancing through the window sheers of my 27th floor room. ‘Might as well considering I am already awake’, I concluded. I turned on the TV and flipped over to ESPN. It was a good decision. It was a night well spent. It was a gentlemen’s night out – Federer, Nadal and I…

Watching Tennis is not really my passion. I have a tremendous respect for the sport, but somehow I have never watched it with a time investment compelling enough to get me hooked. The last complete game that I vividly recall dates back to 2009. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open finals. There is a reason I remember that match. The invincible Federer had cried like a baby after losing to Nadal. So much so that Nadal’s eyes also welled up as he consoled Federer. The episode had touched my heart. Perhaps this might be the reason that I had subconsciously woken up at an unearthly hour, hoping for a rematch of the legendary ‘hearts’…

Yesterday’s 2017 Australian Open final was not expected to deliver spectacular tennis. Both the top seeds—Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic—had been knocked out in the early rounds. Whoever would have dreamt of a possible finals clash between 17th seed Roger and 9th seed Rafael? No doubt, it was a stuff dreams are made of, but not because any new records were to be broken. With 17 Grand Slam titles under Federer’s belt, and 14 trophies in Nadal’s closet—both the contenders were locked in at their all-time 1st and 2nd positions regardless of the outcome.

Instead this match was historical because, in all likelihood, it was a grand sendoff for the 35 year-old Federer. Sure Federer hasn’t announced his retirement from the professional circuit yet, but he is a shadow of his glory days. The last time he held the grand slam trophy was five years back (2012, Wimbledon). To further diminish his odds, a serious knee injury had kept him out of action for the preceding six months. But win or lose, the world anticipated that this was their final shot to see Federer at a Grand Slam stage. And the historic farewell to the sport’s greatest didn’t deserve Novak or Andy on the other side of the net. It was only befitting that curtains were to fall with arch rivals standing side by side!

Nadal himself has not been getting any younger. At 30, he has struggled over the last couple of years with a wrist injury and seen his ratings steadily decline. He hasn’t won any grand slam for more than two years now. So the game was evenly placed between the two bruised superheroes. It was a feel-good game, like an exhibition match. While all fans had their favorite, they were more interested in the fireworks. The test on the court was not of the biological superiority, but the goodbye chemistry between the twin maestros.

It was like watching a climax of a happy ending movie. Yes, the game lived up to the expectations, a seesaw till the end. Federer reigned. However, this blog is not about the scorecard, but the wildcard. Is there a hidden leadership lesson that doesn’t meet the eye here? If yes, then the clue perhaps doesn’t lie on the court, rather during the pregame and postgame shows. The pregame interviews exuded a boyish excitement of the rivals for having made it together to the final, as if they were on a prom night date! Neither of them appeared too bothered about winning or losing. The postgame show had no tears, only smiles. They dedicated their speeches to each other. Federer went to the extent of declaring he would have been fine losing the game; how he wished joint winners were allowed—so that he could share his trophy with Nadal!

Roger vs Nadal in 2017 Australian Open final

And that poses an intriguing question. Why would Federer go through the gruesome training amidst serious injuries that the sport of professional tennis demands, when he has already achieved his nirvana over his peaks? How is it even possible to be the best when the fire within has been extinguished? Why did he put himself through months of sacrifices when he is already content with what he has achieved?

It is a pertinent question for anyone who has achieved success in life, business and professional leaders included. What drives successful people who have already achieved enough money, status and satisfaction? What pushes them to achieve more? The answer lies behind the curtains of 2017 Australian Open.

Both, Roger and Rafael, live a glamour-free life. They live in a closed family environment—committed to the same partner for over a decade, are grounded, and associate with their pre-limelight friends with no time for socialite parties. In fact, they don’t mingle with each other in spite of being the closest of friends! Their limited distractions are their foundations revolving around underprivileged children. So what good is their fame if they have to live such a low-key life? They have ‘sacrificed’ the spoils of success to achieve what they have achieved. At least, that’s what the world believes!

The world has got it wrong. If you were to deep dive on Google, you will discover that Federer and Nadal don’t feel that they have ‘sacrificed’ anything. They do what they do because they massively ‘enjoy’ what they do! And that is what makes Federer and Nadal the greatest duo ever in the game of tennis. They symbolize the story of most successful people — achievers don’t work hard, they play hard. They are invigorated by the passion of the game. Do you agree?

Passion, Original, Leader, Style


  1. Very valid point Arun and the same was palpable in Melbourne where I am currently. This game showed that when you love what you do, it is the passion which clouds over the competitive spirit leading to some amazing results. It is no longer about winning but about proving to yourself that you have the ability and will to put your 100% into something that you love the most.

  2. Speechless………indeed a night well spent and the analysis thereafter.
    I have to say though that medical time-out was bit unfair for Nadal..!!

  3. Very well said Arun. If everyone tries to analyze not only this game, but any other incident of life, the world can be far more better. ‘Enjoy’ what you do!

  4. I disagree with you. The point is, they work hard to play hard. As federer himself said he does want to repeat the cliche word “hardwork”. Its their urge to succeed and become the best that drives them. And the hardwork they have put in is the reason for which they could play hard!!! They do make sacrifices and do a lot hardwork behind the scenes but they just dont boast about as most of us do.

  5. It was a legendary game… scarcely one gets to witness such brilliance. The lessons from game – Stay humble, Respect your opponent and Mindset matters.

  6. Nice said Arun, Yesterday’s match was one of the ” DREAM FINAL ” we all witnessed a Phenomenal performance between The Swiss Maestro Roger Federer vs The Spaniard Rafael Nadal well these two are one of the G.O.A.T(Greatest Of All Time) Tennis Superstars The Tennis have ever produced in the History of Sports Entertainment. It was a great 5 set match which lasted for 3 hours and 38 minutes.Although I was supporting The Spaniard Rafael Nadal there was a chance for Rafael Nadal when he was leading 3-1 in the 5th set but unfortunately Roger came back with an unbelievable Forehand and Backhand as he targeted Nadal’s Forehand and Break Nadal’s service thrice and he took all 5 points to claim the Australian Open Championship 2017. It was the Veryyyy First Victory for Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open as Rafael Nadal has defeated Roger Federer thrice when the came Face to Face as this was the fourth. Although I will always support Rafael Nadal as he is my Favourite and no 1 Tennis Player ever in the World and second of course Roger Federer. Roger Federer proved to the WORLD that although he is 35 years of age he can still WIN a major. I Congratulate Roger Federer with the Bottom of my Heart on Winning a Record 18th Grandslam Title and still many more to come. He was playing like he was just in his twenties. For him age is just a number. The Speech given by both Roger and Rafa was simply amazing,tremendous,fabolous and outstanding as both players appreciated each other and we all are Veryyyy Lucky to be living in a 21st century and witnessing their Rivalry Battles always. Well we cannot forget the Trophy given to both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the Legendary Australian Player ” ROD LAVER “. One of the Famous Tennis Player of all time Rod Laver holds the WORLD Tennis Record of Winning all 4 GRANDSLAMS which includes Australian Open, French Open,Wimbledon and US Open twice in a Year which is still impossible to break by any of the Tennis Player and he might be feeling so Proud that the match was been played under the name of his i.e. ‘ Rod Laver Arena ‘. It could have been broken by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the Year 2015 as he lost the 2015 French Open Title against Stanislas Wawrinka and winning all the rest 3 Grandslams. Although Records are mean to be Broken but when it comes to Roger Federer his Position of remaining for World No 1 for ” 302 Weeks ” will never be broken in the History of Tennis unless and until we will get more great Tennis Players like him may be Sasha Zverev, Daniel Evans, Bernard Tomic, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dmitriov who are in their twenties and many more who will be playing more and more Grandslam matches and Winning the Majors. Its difficult to stay on the no 1 position as there are more tuff contenders who play great each and every year. There is still a fact that we all know that Rafael Nadal is known as the King of ‘ CLAY COURT ‘ he have never lost against Roger Federer in French Open whenever they came face to face in the Finals or the 3rd,4th,Quarter,Semi and Finals. Rafael Nadal 67-2 is still a Record in the French Open as from the year 2005 he have Won a Record 9 Roland Garros(French Open) more than any other male Tennis Player in the World as he only got the defeat against Robin Soderling in 2009 and against Novak Djokovic in 2015. As last year in 2016 ” Tragedy Hits in Paris” as Rafael Nadal withdraw from the French Open 2016 after winning 2 matches due to his Leg Injury and as this was a great Opportunity for Novak he Won his First French Open and completed his Career Grandslam and became to the 9th Player to achieve this feet. I hope that Rafael Nadal will be back in action in Mid May 2017 to compete in his Favourite Grandslam the Roland Garros(French Open) and Winning it for the Record 10th Time. Rafael Nadal is the only 2nd player after Andre Agassi in the Tennis History to complete a Career Golden Slam where he achieved a Gold Medal in the Beijing Olympics 2008. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal do a lot of charity events, campaigns etc etc which makes them a True Gentleman Sports Person. My Wish is that Roger Federer should Win the Olympic Gold Medal in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and achieve a remarkable feet under his name. He have already achieved a lot in his entire career. Well I Thanks to both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who have always kept on entertaining us as well as the whole Tennis Fans around the World with their matches and I Hope they will again meet in the Finals of the Majors and produce a great match. Both players respect each other a lot and that is the Sport. Win or Loose is always a part of the Game, Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent. Wishing both Players a Veryyyy Best of Luck for the remaining 3 Major Tournaments.

  7. Absolutely agree!! When you do things so passionately, gradually it becomes part of you and then the target is not winning but enjoying what you do.

  8. A true game of passion and determination well played and enjoyed by both opponents. Federer backhand was superb so was Nadal’s forehand.
    What a brilliant result, and so richly deserved. They way Federer fought back in the final set will forever be remembered.
    We’ve been privileged to witness history !!

  9. Agree absolutely! It is not sacrifice but the way of the life for them! Like for fish to be in water and good people to exhibit goodness in all circumstances!

  10. Indeed it is referred as “sacrifice or hard work” when others see or perceive the achiever because the efforts are visible to others, While same efforts of self may not be felt to the achievers at the time when they are executing the things to achieve. It is also because most of the time they are driven by passion or appetite to realize their goals. Post achievement retrospection of their toils & sweat, gives them a sense of fulfillment, Poise & confidence to explore further. Perception is what that makes distinction between one is doing hard work or one is enjoying his (hard) work.

  11. The answer is actually tucked in the question. “Federer and Nadal don’t feel that they have ‘sacrificed’ anything.” The give-away here if the word ‘feel’. Sacrifices aren’t really sacrifices when you’re giving up something to do something you love. In fact, you’re not giving up anything. You’re simply setting priorities.
    “Achievers don’t work hard, they play hard. They are invigorated by the passion of the game.” Personally, I believe that ‘success’ is a state of mind. ‘Achievers’, as you rightly said are driven by the passion of their game and because they enjoy what they do, it doesn’t feel like “work”. At the end of the day, it’s the subjective importance of what matters the most to you that drives your decisions at a subliminal level.

  12. Totally Agree.

    “They have ‘sacrificed’ the spoils of success to achieve what they have achieved. At least, that’s what the world believes! “

    I believe the crux lies in this statement, both don’t believe they need to live a certain lifestyle, socialize, make friends, win matches or do anything because of images / expectations that the “world” makes or believes in. Being always rooted and making excellence not a goal but a way of life, has stood them in good stead. That’s the same drive that makes ordinary people great achievers. They say when you love what you do it no longer is work, it becomes a passion. I believe that anything you do needs to begin with passion, not transition into passion!

  13. Very true…They are indeed the legends in tennis and inspiration to all of those people who are running behind some or other passion of their life..really both of them at times have proven that when some one is passionate enough about their work, you start enjoying it and once you do that you can achieve anything and can really do wonders in life..just that one shouldn’t let “ego” get inside them..!!

  14. In total agreement! Pinnacle in any field can be achieved by one if that is passion from within.

    In my opinion, one more thing, which is required to achieve greatest/unseen success in history -> being ready to take risks/put everything on stake achieved till date. Be it Columbus who dared to accept that he may not see the shore again to achieve something he believed exists , Gandhi ji kept all his earlier success/comfort zone at bay when life thrown a challenge towards him in the form of an incident and started a new journey are some of the examples from those lot.

    In this example, both the superstars were showing that they are here today for their passion, not to pacify someone or something like that. If I need to pick one, I think Federer had put in more stakes on the table, be his glory or chance of repeating history of losing to same Nadal.

  15. Does passion fuel success more than success fuels passion?

  16. I grew up watching these two great Tennis players becoming legends.
    For some time now it was my dream to see my all time favorite two Tennis players in a Grand Slam final which seemed as a distant reality. But as Andy and Djoker were out…..this was it! The game was set.
    I too recalled the Australian GS 2009 final match, many things came into my mind. It was really difficult for me to take sides this time but my heart somewhere somehow still rooted for Federer (Always rooted for Nadal during Roland Garros :).
    What a match it was!, literally felt privileged to watch these two Titans clash for one last time…..

    I absolutely agree that these Achievers Play hard and not work hard because of the fact that working hard does not come from the passion and motivation but mandation/compulsion. If they would have worked hard, they would have enjoyed the spoils and not bothered to make a come back with such grueling hard word even after achieving great success.
    It was indeed their burning passion and the love for the game that made them what they are!
    A Classic example we have for the same is non other than Sachin Tendulkar 🙂 (Sachin & Roger too are good friends…guess great minds think alike).

  17. It’s right……. While someone is passionate about something that person won’t see anyone beyond that and that game is their life.

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It’s No Sacrifice! - Arun Nathani Blog