It was a throwback to bygone years on Sunday at the Australian Open final when Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal in five sets to claim his 18th Grand Slam title.
It took almost four hours but Federer came through 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and he said afterwards, “’Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws; but if there were I would have been happy to share it with Rafa.”
Both had been injured for most of 2016 – Nadal with wrist injuries and Federer with a bad knee.
“When we saw each other four or five months ago (at Nadal’s academy) we never believed we could be in the finals.
“I’m very happy for you, I would have been happy to lose. I work hard but try not to shout about it. It has been a different last six months and I wasn’t sure I would make it here.”
On Nadal’s part he said, “Congrats to Roger, it’s amazing how he is playing without being on the tour. It has been a great month for me, I really enjoyed it.”
It was the 45th meeting between the two former World No.1s and it was made possible by the early capitulations of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic before the quarterfinal stage.
Federer’s win on Sunday was the first at a Grand Slam event since Wimbledon 2007, and it was also a first-ever victory over Nadal in Australia.
Their first meeting was in Florida in 2004 and this could be the last between two of the tennis greats even though Federer implored Nadal to continue as he just turned 30.
Really, tennis needs both players!