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The Milton Measure

Federer Wins Historic Australian Open Title Against Rival Nadal

by Haley Hunt on Friday, February 10th, 2017

Prior to the 2017 Australian Open, Roger Federer had not played a professional tennis match since his semi-final loss at last year’s Wimbledon Championships. An ongoing knee injury forced the Swiss star to take a six-month hiatus from tennis, leaving the tennis community wondering if he would ever return to the Tour. Thus, all eyes were on Federer when he defeated long time rival, Rafael Nadal, to capture another Grand Slam title and his fifth Australian Open title this year. With the win, he extended his lead of most Grand Slam titles to eighteen.

Roger Federer has arguably had the most successful career in Tour history. A versatile player known for his court sense and backhand stroke, Federer has captured the adoration of fans across the globe. The Swiss held the top spot in the ATP rankings for 302 weeks and has been consistently ranked in the top ten for the last fourteen years. His four Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, five U.S. Open titles, and one French Open title make him one of eight players to secure a career Grand Slam, the term for winning all four Grand Slam tournaments. Just last year, ESPN ranked him as the greatest tennis player to ever live.

American novelist David Foster Wallace addressed fans’ worship of Federer in his 2006 essay, “Federer as Religious Experience.” He coined the term, “Federer Moments,” to describe the seemingly “impossible” shots that the champion hits regularly. Wallace stated, “[Federer] has, figuratively and literally, re-embodied men’s tennis,” pointing to Federer’s world-class anticipation, footwork, and ability to both mix the spins and speeds of his shots, and to read and manipulate his opponents. Regardless of his opponent, Federer’s matches are always highly anticipated. Whenever Federer plays rival Rafael Nadal, fans watch as history is made.

The rivalry between Federer and Nadal dates back to 2004 and has been regarded as the greatest in tennis history. As the only pair of men to finish six consecutive calendar years (2005-2010) as the ATP Tour’s top two ranked players, Federer and Nadal have met thirty-five times with twenty-two of those matches taking place in tournament finals. Thus, it was no surprise when 4.4 million Australian viewers tuned in last month to watch what was widely considered the most highly anticipated Grand Slam final of all time. Why? Federer had not earned a Grand Slam title since lifting the Wimbledon trophy in 2012. Nadal’s most recent Grand Slam victory came at the 2014 French Open when he overcame current world number two, Novak Djokovic, to earn his record-breaking ninth French Open crown. Many had been waiting for the two to face off once again.

From the second the players took the court to the conclusion of the trophy presentation, every moment of the three hours and thirty-eight minute match was magnificent. Federer’s backhand, which many believed “won him the match,” countered by Nadal’s ferocious forehand, made for a swashbuckling performance, one that kept audience members and commentators alike eager to experience more. Ultimately, down 3-1 in the fifth set, it was Federer who battled back to seal his fifth Australian Open crown, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, in what Catherine Whittaker of the Tennis Podcast described to viewers as “the most magical storyline. If you’re a genuine tennis fan, you cannot not celebrate the storyline of Roger Federer’s victory. It is one of the best the sport has ever seen.” She added that, given the difficulty of Roger Federer’s draw and his lengthy absence from the Tour, many doubted his ability to make an impact at the Australian Open. Yet, for the thirty-five year-old, making “history” was the last thing on his mind.

“That’s the smallest part, to be honest. For me it’s all about the comeback…about an epic match with Rafa again,” Federer told members of the media in his final press conference. The rivalry between Federer and Nadal goes far beyond the tennis court; they are the ambassadors for the sport, and share one of the closest friendships on the tennis circuit. The world cannot imagine professional tennis without this iconic duo, and, Roger Federer, unlike many other players, doesn’t want to see the history of his biggest rivalry come to a close.

“There are no draws in tennis, but if there were, I would be very happy to share it (the Australian Open trophy) with Rafa,” Federer told the crowd in Rod Laver arena before hoisting his eighteenth Grand Slam trophy. “Keep playing, Rafa, because tennis needs you.”

 

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Posted by Haley Hunt on Feb 10 2017. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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