There is not a single athlete, no matter how talented, who is a god. Every athlete is fallible, and that includes Rafael Nadal.
Just four days after claiming a record ninth French Open title, Nadal got destroyed on Thursday by Dustin Brown (ranked 85th in the world). Brown entered the match with a "nothing to lose" attitude as he bounced around with his trademark dreadlocks. Prior to the match, Nadal noted that Brown is a "very dangerous" player. And boy did that prove to be true on Thursday at the grass-court Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.
Brown's 6-4, 6-1 trouncing of the world's #1 player was about as devastating a beat-down as a tennis player can hand to his opponent. Ace after ace, multiple return of serve winners, and beautiful drop shots and topspin lobs to round out the well-balanced assault. Brown was relentless, and Nadal didn't have a single answer for the blistering forehands and backhands which kept sailing past him for winners.
Brown was born in Germany in 1984, but emigrated to Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1996. His father was Jamaican and his mother originated from Germany. Nadal probably wishes he was in Jamaica, or anywhere that would have allowed him to escape the brutal beating he endured on the court. This is the first match the two have ever played against each other. But it's certainly one that neither of them or anyone in attendance will ever forget.
Life on earth is a series of successes and defeats. Some people, like Rafael Nadal, seem to be on top most of the time. And he truly is a gifted and amazing tennis player. But even Nadal can get "taken to the woodshed" if he happens to run into a guy who is so completely "in the zone."
I don't know how else to describe the play of the Jamaican-German on Thursday. Aside from some double faults, Brown was nearly perfect in his execution. Nadal didn't stand a chance. And it wasn't that Nadal was playing poorly. It was that he just couldn't get to many of the shots which Brown was sending over the net. Killer groundstrokes, amazing drop shots, beautiful lobs and everything in between. Just goes to show that we are all capable of having a losing day.
And it's just a matter of time before Dustin Brown himself will experience defeat in this tournament, or the next one. That's the world of tennis for you, and it's also the way life plays out for everyone.
Are you on top of the world right now? Or are you going through a rough season of loss? Either way, there is One who will come alongside you and help you finish the game. In fact, He already scored the greatest victory ever won by any human being. And by the way, He is also God. So I guess that would explain why He always remains undefeated, even though his opponents thought they had crushed Him once and for all.
So hang in there. And be encouraged by God's love for you. You don't have to be a famous athlete to get the attention of heaven. You just need to trust in the One who opened the way for you and I to celebrate an eternal victory with our Creator.
Come to think of it, Jesus manhandled Satan, sin and death at the cross. And because of Christ's victory, every earthly victory and defeat gets swallowed up in comparison to what ultimately matters in life and in death.
So remember the Lord this summer. As you enjoy sports or other hobbies and interests, do so with an eye on the prize. Because you just never know when God may allow you to "get in the zone" and experience a victory that no one around you saw coming.