Federer vs Nadal Felt Like a Dream

I’m still not entirely convinced that match really happened. In the year 2017, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal defied the odds to meet once again in a major final. As Roger alluded to in his victory speech, the winner of the match was not important. Simply being able to revisit this historic rivalry was more than enough to satisfy everyone involved.

Roger Federer, arguably the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, and Rafael Nadal, the one man able to foil him on a regular basis, have combined to create some of the most scintillating tennis matches ever witnessed. But due to injuries, new competitors, and the cruel passage of time, it seemed incredibly unlikely we would ever see them on opposite sides of the court in yet another major final. Had I watched the match from 3:30am onward I surely would have assumed I was hallucinating by the end. Instead I opted for the ‘DVR/don’t check Twitter’ option, and was not disappointed.

It seemed as though Roger and Rafa had agreed ahead of time to take the match to five sets. They traded wins back and forth, with Roger’s 6–1 victory in the 3rd being the most decisive. Throughout the first four sets it felt like the crowd was so happy to be watching Federer and Nadal that they wouldn’t have cared if they were just playing for bragging rights. Once the fifth set arrived, the tension in the building resembled that of their classic duels.

As the audience remembered what was at stake, Nadal jumped out to an early fifth set lead. As a Federer fan, this felt like the death blow to an incredible run through the year’s first major. The magic that was never expected to return had run out for good. As quickly as Nadal had sprinted ahead, Roger caught up and surpassed him. As the video review confirmed Federer’s final shot to be in, his normally steely face was overcome with joy. He had achieved something that used to be commonplace for him, but in recent years seemed unlikely to ever happen again.

For so long, the men’s tennis universe has revolved around Federer and Nadal. Federer has the most all-time major tournament wins, yet Nadal was always his most troublesome opponent. They have been the push and pull keeping the sport in motion for over a decade. Federer pulled everyone in with his dominance, then Nadal entered to push Federer to his limits. They always pushed each other to be their absolute best, and pulled in viewers to witness their talent. Picture Federer pushing that graceful one-handed backhand down the line and Nadal pulling his looping forehand across the court. Yin and yang, push and pull, Federer and Nadal.