When Federer & Nadal Took the Tennis World by Storm
In the world of tennis, 2017 was a great year. Not only did it mark the return of two of the most formidable tennis athletes on the circuit, but it also took us back to those wonder years when the game of tennis was all about these two giants. As you might have guessed by now, we’re talking about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The two players came together and breathed a new life in this wonderful sport, along with inspiring a million others that as long as you’re passionate enough, there is nothing in this life that you cannot achieve.
Back in 2016 July, when Federer announced his withdrawal from the remainder of the ATP Tour owing to an injury, not many would have thought that he would return to the tour in full throttle, let alone win titles. After all, not many can imagine a 35-year-old win a Grand Slam after recovering from a serious knee injury. Even his staunchest supporters had made peace with themselves, that they will not see the Swiss lift another trophy again.
By 2016 July, it had been four years since Federer had won a major title. Moreover, he had lost to Novak Djokovic in the finals of three Grand Slams since 2012. Against such overwhelming statistics, to bet on Federer to win another Grand Slam would be considered a foolish man’s deed.
And yet, the history of mankind is marked by men of greatness, who overcame impossible odds to re-write history in their favor. All of them were driven by an unfathomable desire. A desire to win, to conquer, to lead or simply, to be happy. Perhaps, this is what Federer was thinking when he came to Melbourne in January 2017, to play in the Australian Open.
As the World No. 17, his path to the title would be a tricky one and that’s what happened. He ran into three top 10 players en route to final – Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss prevailed against all of them, only to meet his old nemesis Rafael Nadal in the final.
This was the first time since 2014 Australian Open, that the two players met each other in a Grand Slam. This was a dream final that was watched by millions across the world. After all, a ‘Fedal’ match is always a classic that never fails to entertain.
Over the past, Nadal had dominated their meetings but this time, Federer was highly determined to break that routine. After more than three hours and five sets, Federer defeated Nadal to clinch his 18th Grand Slam title. He also became the oldest player since Bill Tilden to win a major title.
This victory was one of the four wins that Federer would move on to register over the Spaniard in the course of his season. He also won the Indian Wells, Miami Masters, and Shanghai Masters. However, his biggest win is undoubtedly his feat in the Wimbledon, which he won after defeating a weary Marin Cilic in the final. It was his eighth Wimbledon title and 19th Grand Slam.
While many will say that Federer’s change in tactics and racquet did the trick here, the biggest reason for his success is his never-ending love for tennis. He once said that when you do something in life, you don’t want to give that up. For him, it’s tennis.
At the same time, Nadal too was making headlines on the tour. Although he isn’t as old as Federer, Nadal’s struggle with injuries and form started around the same time as Federer’s. Nadal won the Olympic Gold in 2016, which was the sole highlight of his season.
After the Shanghai Masters, he retired from the season to recover from his wrist injury.
The Spaniard started out with a couple of runner-up feats in Australian Open and Miami Masters. However, he eventually moved on to clinch the other two Grand Slams – French Open and US Open, in addition to winning the Monte-Carlo Masters and Madrid Open.
In fact, his terrific performance on the circuit helped him become the World No. 1 once again. By doing so, he has set a plethora of records, the most notable of which is this – at the age of 31, Rafael Nadal has become the oldest player to end the year as No. 1. He lost his crown in 2014, but he never gave up his relentless pursuit. After three years, Nadal was once again on the top of the world.
Federer and Nadal completely dominated the ATP World Tour this year. Not only did they win the four Grand Slams, but they also won five out of nine Masters titles. In a way, the two players drive each other. Federer’s rise to the top again only inspired Nadal to work harder and the end result is visible to all of us.
After such a terrific 2017 season, one can only imagine how the next season will be, especially with Djokovic and Andy Murray set to return. However, it wouldn’t a surprise to see Nadal retain his No. 1 crown.