In what must be considered one of the greatest tournaments of all time, the king Roger Federer, defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller.
It wasn’t an easy win, but the GOAT got it done in five sets.
The Swiss started off on fire, constantly piling the pressure on Nadal and giving him no room to run.
His serving was impeccable, and he broke at 3-2, holding the following two service games to go up an early set. This was crucial as Federer needed to get off to a fast start if he had any chance of getting past the mental wall standing in his way.
The second set was a different story; Nadal started to return Federer’s serve more aggressively, and he showcased the athleticism that he is known for, chasing down ridiculous shots and giving a masterclass in defense.
Federer wouldn’t give up. He struggled in the first service game, but after a difficult hold, he came out guns-a-blazing. He broke Nadal immediately afterwards and held serve to make it 3-0. Nadal held serve once, but three consecutive games from Roger meant that he would win the set 6-1.
Continuing this alternation, Nadal came back and broke to make it 2-0. He broke once again to make it 4-0. Federer was able to get a break back, but the Spaniard was too strong. Fifth set, here we come.
This was the defining moment. The set that could decide the race for GOAT, that could settle the rivalry between two legends.
Federer uncharacteristically took another medical timeout, for the same groin injury that he cited in his previous match against Wawrinka.
The play resumed. Federer netted a forehand and lost the following point. 0-30. 15-30. 15-40. 30-40. Break.
Uh-oh. Nadal looked to be rolling to another win against his rival, reminiscent of the 2009 Australian Open.
Nadal fought his way to 2-0, denying Federer multiple break points.
Easy hold for the Swiss.
And again, in Nadal fashion, he held and denied Federer once more.
The Swiss was frustrated, coasting through another service game.
He would not be denied again. This time he took his chance. 3-3. Game on.
Another routine hold.
Nadal was struggling now. Federer saw the trophy, and he wanted it. At deuce, the two played the point of the match, a back and forth rally typical of the 2008 Wimbledon final that is regarded by many as the greatest of all time. Federer hit a searing forehand winner. Nadal with a big serve. Nadal error. Federer would not be denied. A shot into the net post meant Federer would be serving for his eighteenth grand slam title.
It got off to a rocky start. 0-30 after a Nadal passing shot and an error. Huge ace. 15-30. 15-40. Double break point. Two great points for the Maestro. Deuce. Championship point. Federer misses the first. And the second. But wait. A challenge earns him both serves back. He hits it long anyway. Another big serve. And Championship Point #2. It’s now or never. First serve is big but Nadal is able to get his racket on it. And it’s a wonderful forehand winner. Or is it? Another challenge, this time from Rafa. Roger can’t look. It’s in!
He’s done it! He’s done it! He’s done it!
Roger can’t believe it! He jumps up and down like a little kid and consoles Nadal.
It was a match of epic proportions, an ending that was fitting to the fairy tale we saw unfold.
Two of the all-time greats, battling head-to-head for one last time. A match that was never supposed to happen. A match that only happened because of two major upsets in the first week. Two bizarre weeks of tennis that climaxed in this. A final, a match for the ages.
The best player of all time against the best competitor of all time.
Two contrasting play styles, and Federer finally got his revenge, and boy, was it sweet.
So I thank you, Nadal, for providing us with some of the best tennis we’ve ever seen. For being so gracious and humble in defeat. For fighting for every ball. For showing kids that it’s never over until its over. For being an inspiration to the game, to the fans, to the world.
And I thank Federer for being who he is, for producing some incredible tennis, for proving the doubters wrong, for getting his revenge. And most of all, for showing the world that tennis is more than just a game. It is a lifestyle, a passion. It is everything.