Umm, did the Flash timetravel again?
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face off in a Grand Slam final after almost 6 years. This will be the 9th Grand Slam final between them, Nadal having won six of the previous eight. These two have managed to prove every tennis expert terribly wrong.
Roger Federer has never beaten Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, even though Federer is more comfortable playing on hard courts, as compared to Nadal. This year, the courts at the Australian Open seem to be faster than before, something that aids Federer’s natural gameplay. Federer is so naturally talented that for most part of his career he has not had to really think too much about the mental aspect of his game. But, it is a completely different ball game against Nadal. His lopsided head to head record proves that.
Their rivalry has been great for tennis. It is a combination of two very different styles and two very different approaches. It would be interesting to see if Nadal has a different strategy against Federer after all these years, or will he still be looking to attack his backhand with top spins.
Either of the two things is going to happen tomorrow:
- Federer beats Nadal to win an unprecedented 18th Grand Slam title, answering every uncomfortable question asked in the past couple of years, defying physical limits and mental barriers. With Federer on number 18, it would seem highly unlikely for Nadal to ever catch up on him, with his best years already behind him. Djokovic (at 12 currently), still has a shot, but with the younger generation desperately pushing forward, it might prove really challenging for him to maintain the victory rate.
- Nadal beats Federer to win his 15th Grand Slam title, hence, inching closer to Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slams and becoming the first man in the Open Era to win all the Grand Slams multiple times. But, that doesn’t really bother Federer fans, as a gap of two Grand Slam titles is still no run-of-the-mill. Now, a Grand Slam win before the clay court season, is just what Rafa Nadal needs to enter his ‘Bull mode’. And an in-form, pumped up Nadal will be the favourite to win a 10th French Open title. A 16th Grand Slam title and suddenly, Federer fans lose their mind.
Federer and Nadal are two legends, who have pushed each other to limits, who have complimented each other on court and who have made each other the person they are today.
As Peter Strople has rightly said, “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people.” And the impact that these two players have made on the game, fellow players and the entire tennis world is ineffable.
After having played for so long, and having known each other so closely, I just wish they still have some never-seen-before tricks up their sleeves.
The stage is set.