2017 — An Epic Year for Tennis?
At the start of the year who would have thought or even believed that the four Grand Slam tiles would be shared (two each) by the two great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Roger Federer took a rest from the game from August 2016 to recoup from injury. He had not won a Grand Slam title since 2012 and many thought his magnificent career was drawing to an end. Rapha’s career had started to decline in the preceding years and again many doubted he would win another Grand Slam title. He also had taken a break from the game.
Here we are in the autumn and despite having a glittering career, both men have had one of their best years in terms of how well they are playing and the success it has brought. Federer won the Australian Open even exceeding his expectations by defeating Nadal in another epic battle between the two. Nadal steamrollered his way to an unbelievable tenth French title. A month later Federer breezed his way to an eighth Wimbledon title without losing a set. Whilst Federer didn’t have to play Murray or Djokovic, who both pulled out due to injuries, not many would have doubted they would have beaten him on the kind of form that he was in.
Whilst this may have given a steer to other players that rest can reap great rewards it is also another reminder of how great these two players have been and still are in the history of tennis. With all that they had won in previous years, their ability, dedication and drive to get back to the top of the game is not only an inspiration to any sportsman but for us fans has been a pure joy to watch.
However, the joy continued as we have just witnessed the inaugural Laver Cup in the Czech Republic where the best of Europe took on the Rest of the World over three days in what was like a Davis Cup format but in the mould of Golf’s Ryder Cup. The two teams were captained by two other giants of the game in Borg and McEnroe and it looks certain to be a successful event in years to come. Yet again both Federer and Nadal were instrumental in Europe’s success using their experience and enthusiasm to support their team mates in each game. It was also fascinating to see them giving guidance and help on the side-lines to their team mates with a somewhat quiet Borg listening intently to their words of wisdom.
The highlight of all this had to be when fans were treated to watching Federer and Nadal playing doubles together for the first time. The pure enjoyment on their faces was so apparent and I don’t think I have seen the usually intense Nadal smile and laugh so much as he did so in this tournament. It was a sheer privilege and pleasure to watch these two giants of tennis play and gel so well together on court. In both their doubles and singles matches they faced tough opposition but, as great players always do, they used their insurmountable experience to win the big points to help Europe gain the first victory in this exciting tournament.
The final ATP tournament of the year in London was a slight disappointment for both of them for different reasons but they both finished the year as the top two in the ATP rankings. Finally who would have thought we would have seen Federer playing in a kilt in 2017!
Certainly, for me it has been an epic year for the game!