One of the best reasons to stay awake at night is tennis, for me at least. This past week I kept my eyes on the Olympic Games because of two very amazing people: Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau. I kept following them on live scores, if their matches weren’t broadcast, I woke up in the middle of the night even though I had a fever and a headache just to see them play, I cheered, watched and enjoyed. For those of you who don’t know, Mergea/Tecau form a Romanian tennis doubles team. They were very good as juniors, took a break from playing together and now they are occasionally back in the game side by side (with different partners on the ATP Tour, for now).
Their level of tennis this week peaked, I’ve never seen them play anything like this. Their match against the Brazilian team Melo/Soares was a perfect and beautiful example of a doubles match. I still believe doubles is more spectacular than singles tennis and much more fun to watch. They rushed through the semifinal to reach the first ever Olympic final for Romanian tennis which they played against Marc Lopez/Rafael Nadal. Yes, Rafa Nadal, the former number 1, a fighter and a true champion, and Marc Lopez, a talented doubles specialist. I knew it was going to be tough but I did not expect what had happened last night. I spent two hours and a half watching a match that for a long time didn’t make sense. A very atypical doubles match in which all 4 players played amazing tennis. I think if they were playing on a court as big as a football field they would still have ran and reached every impossible-to-reach and out-of-this-world shots that came from the other side of the court.
And they had the final in their hand. At 3-3 in the final set they broke Marc Lopez’s serve, just to lose their serve right away and watch how the match turns in the favour of the Spaniards. The pressure was huge but the desire to win and the fear of loosing were bigger than their power to focus and take the gold medal. And after dominating for a set and a half, and fighting like crazy the last half of the third set, they bowed in front of the Spanish team and the audience and the whole World that was watching.
Maybe you know what it is like to want something so much, to work for it like crazy, sacrifice, cry, enjoy, work some more. To have it so close, in front of your eyes, to reach out for it and almost touch it and to lose it because of one mistake, one normal human mistake that you find no forgiveness for, you can’t take back nor fix, that you will always remember and be remembered for and that places you as second best. Good, amazing but not good enough. And in this case this led to an Olympic silver medal, something to be proud of, the first ever Olympic medal for Romanian tennis that came from two of the best athletes Romania has ever had, grand slam champions, World Champions and finalists of great tennis competitions where only the best of the best get to play. I have no words to praise these guys, nor to say how much I appreciate them, how much I enjoy watching them play and how much I support them in their journey around the World every year. I also have no words to say how sad and heartbroken I felt when I saw the sorrow in their eyes at the award ceremony, and how unfair it feels to know that even if they were part of an insane battle on the tennis field, only the champions will be given the credit. I do not deny the fact that Marc and Rafa deserve it, they played amazing tennis, but this was that kind of a match when you feel a bit sad that there can’t be two winners. It’s not the first time our boys play one as such and I am sure it will not be the last time. But it’s ok, they are champions, and me as a fan can take it, even if today I am half happy-half sad.