This is an open and honest letter to you from a die-hard fan of Roger Federer.
There was a time in my childhood when I thought this day would never arrive. But here I am - bowled over by the sheer audacity of your latest comeback which culminated in the Monte Carlo Masters trophy.
To understand the significance of this event in my life, I had to travel back 15 years to the day, when I watched a well-toned teenager taking down his own countryman and one of the best in those times, Carlos Moya, at the Chennai Open.
The ever-present fighting quality of yours was displayed to the entire world on that day. But the purists who were still inclined towards the cult of Pete Sampras and the greatness of Andre Agassi wrote you off, citing the Swiss maestro as the next big thing.
Come the 2005 clay season you blew them off when you became the first teenager since 1990 to win a Grand Slam, laying your hands on the French Open trophy. Every vein in my body bottled up when you defeated Roger in the semis on the way to your title. Those were the times when I wanted you to fail as badly as possible.
Changing of the guard
Suddenly, things that were beyond my wildest nightmares started to happen. You became the biggest nemesis to my favorite and started to dominate him like no other player has ever done. The more you defeated him, my rage towards you increased rapidly along the way.
The rock bottom moment came with the sight of a weeping Fed standing next to you with the runner-up trophy during the Australian Open. That was it. You were the Goliath which every Federer fan wanted to slay from that day onward.
My hatred towards you reached fever pitch.
But the effect of retrieving and keeping the ball in play with pure physicality took its toll on you, with the list of injuries growing larger all the time.
You groaned. Struggled. Even dragged yourself to the court some days to fight the battle. At the end of the day you just stood.
This was the time when something started to change. The likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and others emerged from the sidelines and became prominent figures. And there was also the gradual decline of Federer (to the world’s eyes, if not to me personally). The epic battles between you and the Swiss became rare, and there came a void in my tennis life.
But the vicious cycle of life brought both of you back together in last year’s Australian Open final.
Yes. The same place. The place where my man stood broken. The place where there was every possibility of history repeating itself. The place where I was dreaming for many years for the record to be broken.
You fought on that day as always you do. Fought till the last point as if your life depended on it. But this time, the maestro was just too good to be subsided and he emerged as the successful gladiator.
That was the moment I was waiting for many years. But as opposed to dancing with unbridled joy and elation, I felt for the warrior who lost.
That was the moment which made me realize the reason why the void had developed in the first place. It was because of you.
I realized that there may be many Murrays and Wawrinkas in the future to stand up in front of the maestro, but they are not you.
Because you are the one and only Rafael Nadal.
Epic battles requires two equal competitors pitted against each other. For Batman to become a hero, a great Joker is essential.
The good becomes great only by going past another great. You are the Joker to Federer's Batman.
You pulled all the strings which made the maestro go one notch higher every time. Every nerve in your body popped up just to provoke the musical response from the GOAT.
Oh sorry; he IS the GOAT. But you are the GOAT HERDER.
Get your body straight and put it on the park. The rest will follow.
There are many more gladiatorial battles between the two of you waiting in the wings. For those to happen, I wish that you win your battles with your body off the court and scintillate the fans with your spectacular tennis on it.
Your long standing enemy