January 21 2018
A year of resurgence for ‘Fedal'
12 September 2017

If 2017 has reinforced any fact, it is this: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are back, and how.

The rivalry between the two will be discussed for many years to come, but what was completely unexpected was that they would emerge as top players once again and split this season’s Grand Slam titles. Nadal, with his US Open win on Sunday and French Open title in May has 16 major titles to his name. Federer is just three away and sitting on a very precarious 19, helped in no small measure by his Australian Open and Wimbledon titles this year.

Federer’s win at Melbourne Park was the first time he lifted the winner’s trophy at a slam since 2012 and it came after he spent months off court, recovering from a knee injury. Nadal was recovering from a series of knee and wrist injuries for two years before his 2017 Roland Garros title, his first since 2014.

It seemed like the clock had turned, tennis was going through a period of renaissance. With a combined age of 66, Nadal and Federer now sit on the World No 1 and 2 rankings for the first time since 2011. Both were pitted as underdogs at the Australian Open, but ended up favourites at the US Open.

What of their opponents? A series of mysterious injuries seems to be ailing the men’s tour and it hasn’t left Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — the other Big Two in the Big Four — unscathed. Djokovic, who has challenged Federer and Nadal on multiple occasions, has been dealing with a surprising slump this year. Murray, who was billed to fill that void, could not capitalise on a brilliant season in 2016 where he finished No. 1. Both did not make it to the final of any Grand Slam event this season.

And of Next Gen? Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios — the entire cohort squandered its chances at a widely open US Open this year. After defeating Mikhail Youzhny at the second round of the US Open, Federer cast doubt over when the next generation would truly take over. “I think it’s going to be very interesting. The changing of the guard is going to come at some stage. It could very well be next year, but I still predict it’s going to take a few more (years),” he said.

Till then, a generation of spoilt tennis fans will continue to celebrate two of the game’s greatest players.



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