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Lessons in Problem Solving, From Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal

In Nadal’s spectacular win on Sunday night, there was plenty of high-level chess going on. How he changed his game, tossing in drop shots to keep Daniil Medvedev to keep his court position honest, then revving up the backhand down the line, which started at room temperature and finished scorching hot in the middle of Melbourne summer.

How he used every piece of processing speed in every cell of his tennis brain, having to play every spot with aim, tilting for the gain, and never losing faith that one point, one exit from love-40 in the third, one break of serve late in the fifth, could change the match; no matter how unavoidable it seemed that the Aussie Open final curse would never be broken;

It’s possible that this will be the key to victory.

Nadal versus Medvedev was the more stable, intractable pillar, similar to Barty versus Collins. We are what we project more often than we think, and Nadal and Barty projected something unstoppable this weekend as they rose to the occasion and received the sweetest reward for their decades of hard work that led to this bright moment. Each has spent years donning the hard hat and developing a template for long-term success. With the stakes as high as they are in the Grand Slams, they are both more than happy to understand that there are no guarantees, yet neither of them ever strays from their course or shies away from failure.

Honor the game, honor those who helped you get here, create the weapons, fine-tune the tools, and ignore the voices that tell you you can’t win.

Long before this event, Nadal and Barty mapped out their strategy for victory, and there was no hesitation when it came time to put it into action.

And, yes, it was just fantastic.

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