Nadal just won the French Open for the 9th time.  The level of play against the greatest in his sport clearly puts him at the top of tennis.  Maybe the best of all time.  Better than Agassi, better than Sampras, Federer, Borg, Lendl, Connors.  And when you are the best tennis player in the world, I think that puts you in a class all your own.  Greatest athlete in the world.

No other sport requires so much of one person over so long a period of time.  I watch the NHL Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, World Series and can't say the same thing.  Those teams are playing at their highest level, but one player's cheap goal, fumble, or other mis-step can negate it all.  And some teams' players can be carried by the greatness of a teammate ('85 Bears, 90's Bulls, current Miami Heat).  But in tennis--it's you.  Out there, against one other player.

Tennis is the one of the biggest challenges you can ask of yourself, when played at the level I watched today.

mathias hangst getty image.