It is one of the greatest moments in tennis history – if not the greatest. Before January 2017, even the most loyal Roger and Rafa fans thought it unlikely that the two tennis legends would appear in the final of another Grand Slam.
In fact, many thought it was their last year of professional tennis and they would just ride off into the sunset. Nadal, 30, had been battling foot and knee injuries, and had not made the quarterfinal of a major since Roland Garros in 2015.
Federer, 35, had not competed in over six months due to a painful knee injury. His ranking had dropped from No.3 in the world to No.16, and he hadn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012. But for the man who many dub the ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all time), none of that mattered.
Federer’s class, grit and determination was on full display throughout his journey towards the final against Nadal; he defeated three top-10 opponents, including two classic five-setters over Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka.
Likewise for Nadal, who braved a brutal five-hour epic against Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinal. The stage was set: Federer vs Nadal. Roger vs Rafa. The man with the most major titles vs the man with the second-most. The man with unstoppable skills vs the man with an immovable will to win.
It couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, could it? Yes, it could.