It was always going to be a match that went the distance, it was always going to make you reminisce of the times the sport was at its peak and it was always going to reach heights that no two other competitors would reach in any sport.
Think back to the Rumble in the Jungle when a 35-year-old Muhammad Ali was questioned for returning to the top of the mountain in his sport. And if ever one piece of commentary echoed through the ages all the way to yesterday’s Australian Open final then it is the words of Harry Carpenter “Oh my God he has won the title back at 35!”
Not only was he supposed to be past his prime, but Roger Federer was dismissed as a forgotten legend. Much can be said of the same for his co-finalist and career-long rival, Rafael Nadal. The two transcended the sport from 2006-2010. Playing out arguably the greatest Wimbledon match of all time in 2007.
Both took tennis to heights that hadn’t been seen since the days of McEnroe and Borg.
In any other period, a match between the 18th seed and the 9th would fall nothing short of a snore fest. Throw the game’s two greatest players into the equation and it’s a spectacle that the world stops for.
In homage paid to a man that he has done battle with around the world over the years, Federer said “Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws. If there were, I would have been happy to accept one tonight and share it with Rafa.”
Maybe we will never be treated to a rivalry such as Federer and Nadal’s in tennis ever again. But it stands proud among great sport rivalries across all generations and sports. Argentina and Brazil, Ali and Frazier, India and Pakistan, USA and Europe will now welcome Federer and Nadal to the hall of fame of stellar matchups.