Once upon a time, tennis was all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. When the Swiss legend was at his peak, tennis was about rivalry between the two great champions. Players from across the world participated in Grand Slams, only to see one of the two taking away the coveted final crown. Tennis experts were busy finding new adjectives to define their play, and with every major title, the duo gave crowd an entertainment worth their money.
But then came Novak Djokovic and initially, he disrupted the Nadal-Federer rivalry to a certain extent. The Djoker announced himself at the big stage by winning his maiden Grand Slam title - Australian Open 2008, against Frenchman Jo Wilfriend Tsonga after he stunned Federer in the semis. But for some reasons, the Serb couldn’t win any of the next eleven major titles as Federer-Nadal rivalry once again enthralled the tennis fans with their quality tennis.
Talking about Grand Slam titles, Federer has 17 to his name, with five in a row at the US Open from 2004-2008, while Nadal has won 13 majors, including eight at the French Open and he made a spectacular comeback from an injury to win his 13th Grand Slam title at the US Open this year. In their head-to-head rivalry, Nadal has won 21 times to only 10 for Federer and also leads 7-6 on hard courts.
They had met in several Grand Slams but surprisingly, never at New York in the US Open. But even that seemed a possibility this year when according to the draw, Federer was likely to meet his rival Spaniard in the quarters of the last Slam of the year. There was an adrenaline rush among the tennis fans as they imagined the joy of watching Rafa and Fedex play against each other once again.
“Rafael Nadal is 16-0 on hard courts in 2013, which includes back-to-back titles at Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati. The two would meet in the quarterfinals,” is what everybody speculated.
In the first two matches of the US Open 2013, one could make out that Federer is desperate to outshine his opponents with new strokes and volley winners. With every shot he played, all one could think was whether his shots had the excellence and accuracy for a neck-to-neck fight against Nadal. Even though the Swiss won his first few matches, the victories weren’t convincing and as everybody feared, he was finally knocked out of the tournament by Tommy Robredo and the hype of a Nadal-Federer encounter in a Grand Slam after ages didn’t see light of day.
Nadal not only won the US Open 2013, but regained his World No. 1 crown. He has had a wonderful year and he deserved to be there right at the top. Rafa’s recent Grand Slam final meetings have been against Nole and the rivalry between these two has been the talk of the town in the last few years.
But as Federer refuses to hang his boots, tennis fans are still anticipating whether his meeting with Nadal would now remain a dream? I don’t think so.
The way Federer’s game is deteriorating, there is every chance that he might play along with Rafael Nadal in the first few matches of the upcoming Grand Slams. And if Federer doesn’t improve his game which seems quite evident, his 17-time Grand Slam victories would soon be ranked second, after Nadal, who might currently be celebrating his ascendance to the numero uno spot.