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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer show why they are simply peerless

Picture Courtesy : Steve G Tennis
Picture Courtesy : Steve G Tennis

Who would have thought at the start of the year in 2017 that Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal would dominate the year by sharing among themselves all the four Grand Slams? Probably no one .

As Federer decided to end his 2016 early due to injuries in order to make himself fresh for 2017 , critics were doubting his break. There was talk about him ageing as well. But Federer not only silenced all by letting his racquet do the talking. And the result was there to see.

The much awaited Grand Slam number 18 did happen. And it came after beating his long- time arch rival and also the player he respects – Spaniard Rafael Nadal in a titanic final at Melbourne. The jinx of Federer not going past 17 Grand Slams was finally broken.

Federer was sublime when he won at Australia. He was fit , eager and motivated and keen to prove that he was far from finished. The final appearance by his arch- rival Rafael Nadal was a significant one. Rafa in 2016 was troubled by recurring fitness issues and especially to his knee. It hit his form as well.  And some early exits in tournaments probably gave hints that his career may not last long or perhaps could well be over.

But the champion that he is Rafael Nadal worked hard on his fitness and came back much stronger and powered his way to record 10th French Open title. He proved that on clay there is no one better than him.

Roger Federer on the other hand , continued his amazing return The win in Australia gave him the confidence to add more to his Grand Slams tally and this was evident at Wimbledon. As his rivals Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal bowed out early , Grand Slam number 18 was now within striking distance and a possibility . And he made sure that the golden opportunity does not slip out of his hands. Federer was all pumped up . He was serving well, covering the court brilliantly and his forehands and single- backhands were on target . The Swiss master was displaying Swiss precision . Such was the clinical showing that his rival in the final Marin Cilic was left numbed and having no answer to the Federer class. The Grand Slam number 19 was Federer’s . A tally, that is simply phenomenal and clearly makes him the greatest player of all time. The tally of 19 Grand Slam titles is no joke and it will take super human effort to go past it.

With Federer and Nadal on song . The final Grand Slam – US Open 2017 could not have been more exciting. There was much anticipation when the draws were announced . There was a probable semi- final blockbuster clash between Federer and Nadal. It would be the first time the two legends would play at the US Open . But that dream tie did not happen as Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro upset Federer in the quarters and losing in the semis to eventual winner Rafael Nadal . The Loss to Del Potro ended Federer’s dreams of Grand Slam number 20.

Federer’s loss was Nadal’s gain. The Spaniard was in devastating form at the U S Open 2017. And Federer’s exit meant he was the overwhelming favourite to clinch his Grand Slam number 16. And he did that in ruthless fashion by routing big South African Kevin Anderson in the final.

So as the year 2017 ends Roger Federer has now 19 Grand Slams under his belt and his awesome tally is not secure at all . Rafael Nadal is breathing down his neck with 16 Grand Slams. The return of FedEx and Rafa is a great sign for World tennis. It will renew interest in the game. Tennis has for years thrived on rivalries – John McEnroe- Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker – Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras – Andre Agassi to name a few. Rafa and FedEx rivalry is right up there on the top draw as well.

As the race for adding more Grand Slams between Federer and Nadal intensifies one can surely assume that the year 2018 would be great year to watch these two legends renew their quest for more glory. And when the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray do return fully fit and motivated , tennis fans would be able to see a cracker of a tennis season.

About ARIJEET DUTTA

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File Picture Courtesy : Hindustan Times

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