Federer, Nadal and the return of the old World Order in Tennis
Spanning over a decade, Federer & Nadal for a staggering 4th time pocket all 4 slams in the year. A trip down memory lane
The contemporary history of men’s tennis is dominated by arguably the two greatest players of all times - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The legends share a whopping 35 Grand Slams titles amongst themselves, an incredible feat considering the depth of talent in Men’s tennis.
The tennis season in 2017 took a leaf out of the history book as the Swiss-Spanish duo pocketed all four grand slam singles title in the calendar year amongst them. Spanning over a decade, the legends have achieved this staggering record for the fourth time in the in their career as Nadal belted his 3rd US Open title at Flushing Meadows earlier today.
Federer and Nadal had a clean sweep of all four titles in 2006, 2007 and 2010 with the charismatic Russian, Marat Safin upsetting the Swiss Maestro in the semifinal of the Australian Open in 2005. An incredible feat as it may be, this is not surprising as Federer and Nadal have ended the year as the top two ranked players on the ATP tour for six consecutive years in a row from 2005 to 2010.
A trip down the memory lane, 2006-07: an era of Fed domination
Back in 2006-07, the Swiss maestro was almost invincible. At the helm of his career, Federer was a winning spree pocketing almost every single title re-writing history along the way. In both 2006 and 2007, Federer reached all four grand slam finals and won all of them with an exception of the French Open, which proved to be his Achilles heel, drawing many a comparison with his legendary predecessor, Pete Sampras.
Federer ultimately did manage to win the French Open in 2009, though fans of his arch rival will be quick to point out the early exit of Nadal from the tournament was perhaps a big factor in the outcome. The left handed Spaniard with the monstrous double-handed backhand denied Federer the opportunity for a Calendar slam in 2006 and 2007.
Nadal’s first serious contention outside of the clay courts of Rolland Garros was in Wimbledon 2006. But the young stallion had many a trick to learn before he was any serious threat to the Swiss. In contrast, the 2007 Wimbledon final turned out to be an epic five-set thriller with the Swiss prevailing over the Spaniard but not before the latter announced to the world that he is not a one trick pony.
Nadal had to wait another year before he could claim the coveted title in another five-set thriller but that’s for another day.
2010: New claim to the throne – Rafael Nadal
The Spaniard recorded some of his finest performances in 2010 winning the last three Grand Slams titles of the year after conceding the Australian Open to a knee injury.
The 2010 tennis season also saw Nadal claim his first US Open title and also complete the ‘Career Golden Slam’ with the Olympic singles gold medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics - incidentally, an achievement that eluded his arch rival, Federer.
2017: Resurgence of the old world order
Seven years and multiple injuries later, the tennis season of 2017 witnessed a resurgence of the legends. With both players sidelined for a major part of 2016, critics had questioned if either of the legends will ever dominate the world of tennis at the highest level of the game.
But by the end of the first five months of 2017, Federer and Nadal have reminded us that it was a mistake to write them off so soon. The man from Switzerland dominated the Australian Open, squaring off Nadal in yet another epic final with some sublime tennis ending his five-year Grand Slam drought and taking the Wimbledon title without as much as dropping a set.
Nadal kept his part of the bargain by claiming the French Open for a record 10th time, proving he is the undisputed 'King of Clay'. Intelligent play and the discipline of sticking to his game plan resulted in Nadal claiming his third US Open title at Arthur Ashe stadium earlier today. Flawless tennis by the Spaniard with some cleverly disguised drop shots and quick footwork had served him well through out the tournament.
At the dusk of their careers, the legends have defied age to record some of the finest performances of our time. While the diehard fans amongst us would expect the fine run to continue, season 2017 may well be the final flicker before the candle burns out. When their dominance, in fact, does come to an end, titles and records apart the legends will also be remembered for the mutual respect and admiration they share despite the rivalry to become the most exemplary ambassadors of the sport.