“I was getting asked the other day, after I won my semi-final, I was like, it’s your best chance. You know Roger is 30 now…and he is not bad for a 30-year-old. He played a great tournament, he had some struggles earlier on with his back, but he showed what fight he still has left in himself,” said Andy Murray in one of the most emotional post-match speeches heard in tennis ever, as Federer defeated him to win his seventh Wimbledon title and reclaim the number 1 ranking in 2012.
Andy Murray was once again at the receiving end, this time in the Australian Open quarter-final, and had he been given a chance to share his thoughts, the Briton would have come up with similar words, or even better, after a rejuvenated Federer ousted him as a result of some genius tennis at Rod Laver Arena.
For someone who has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name, one more shouldn’t matter that much. Especially, when the trophy cabinet is studded with awards from all across the world, and everybody who loves tennis is fond of watching him play.
But Roger Federer is on a mission. A point to prove to all those who wrote him off, that he still is the greatest player in tennis history. The Swiss legend has a new coach, a new racket, and he has tried everything possible to compete against the best in the business. And all that hard work has finally paid off, as he is now up against a man with whom he once competed day in and out, in all grand slam finals – Rafael Nadal.
These two met at the semi-final in the same tournament in 2012. Nadal then defeated Federer 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4, as both these gentlemen played their best tennis on that occasion as well. Since then, there were some other points as well, where everybody predicted a Rafa vs Fedex contest, which didn’t happen as Federer’s poor run continued.
But Federer has played some incredible tennis in Australian Open 2014. Despite dictating terms on most of the times in his fourth-round match against Jo Wilfried Tsonga, the 32-year-old didn’t look at his best then. But against Murray, Federer suddenly showed glimpses of his past, and enthralled the spectators with quality tennis. And as we have seen several times in the past, he takes his game to a different level in the semis and the final of a Grand Slam. Federer has to play his best tennis against Nadal, who had a tough match against 22-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, whom many believe is the new Federer, because of his elegant play and one-handed backhand. But the major challenge ahead of Nadal is to beat the old Federer.
Nadal struggled in his fourth-round match as a result of a blister on his hand, which he later said troubled him while serving. But it would be too early to give Federer an advantage on the basis of it, because nobody expected Nadal’s spectacular comeback in 2013, after he missed the Australian Open due to a knee injury. And with the kind of a fighter he is, Nadal would be up for the challenge of playing against Federer, and give his 100 percent at any cost. Even if that requires him playing the entire match with one hand.
Tennis lovers who lost some interest in the game over the last few years will once again stay glued. TRPs are expected to surge to an all-time high. Friday would be a very special day. Tennis would be at its best as Roger Federer will take on Rafael Nadal.