Rafa Roundup: We are so proud of you! Vamos Rafa!

Nike Tennis
Nike Tennis


The concern for Federer is that Nadal had the ideal warm-up partner in Dimitrov, who plays a similar all-court game to Federer and also has a flashy one-handed backhand.

Dimitrov hit it beautifully under pressure on Friday night, particularly down the line, and yet he still lost. Federer’s backhand, which has generally looked strong, even off deep balls to the corners, has long tended to break down under the relentless pressure of the left-handed Nadal’s whipping forehand.

All that said, this certainly looks like a more neutral venue in tactical terms than a clay court or a slow hardcourt, which would heavily favor Nadal.

If he wins Sunday, he will be just two Grand Slams behind Federer in the all-time list, a huge motivation to close the gap even further at the French Open in May.

Their final will be a special occasion for both, but for now Nadal will be focused only on recovering in time to give his all, as he always does.

“It was a very demanding match, physically and mentally, but in the past Rafa has been able to recover well from these matches,” Moya said. “So he’s going to be OK, I think.”

Just seeing Nadal and Federer in this setting again should be reward enough for most tennis fans. But I expect they’ll give us a lot more than just their names and reputations. As they’ve showed us over the last two weeks, they can still play with—and play better than—anyone.

Perhaps encapsulating the excitement and occasion best was not a newspaper or online outlet, nor fans on twitter, but instead Andy Roddick, the American former world No.1 who played both Federer and Nadal at their peaks.

“It might be, as far as history goes, the biggest match ever in Australian Open history,” he said, “and maybe grand slam history.”

3: Nadal is seeking to become the third player all-time and first in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam twice, joining Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.

2: Nadal is bidding to become just the third man to win Grand Slam titles in their teens, 20s & 30s, joining Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras.

1: Both Federer and Nadal have spent significant amounts of time at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Federer spent a record 302 weeks at No. 1, while Nadal was No. 1 for 141 weeks (7th all-time).

“I was already prepared in the last couple of majors and I have to say … I didn’t miss them that much,” said former world number one Mats Wilander, now a commentator for Eurosport.

“Now they’re back I realise, wow, how much they add. They made it look so easy, Federer’s way of playing and Nadal’s way of being, it’s just so natural they’re going to win.

“Now it’s like going to see the (Rolling) Stones every night. For me it’s unbelievable.”

This is the front page of Saturday's @Marca, Spain's biggest daily sport newspaper: "You don't know how proud we are of you"
This is the front page of Saturday’s Marca, Spain’s biggest daily sport newspaper: “You don’t know how proud we are of you”

“He’s an incredible tennis player,” said Federer, who described himself as Nadal’s number one. “He’s got shots that no other one has. When you have that, you are unique and special.”

Should Nadal win on Sunday, he will be the first man in the Open era – and third overall – to win all four Grand Slam titles twice. Federer, meanwhile, is trying to become the first man to win three of the major titles five times.

“It’s exciting for both of us that we are still there and fighting for important events,” said Nadal. “It’s very special.”

“I have said and argued with John McEnroe and Ted Robinson during our French Open telecasts for many years that you cannot anoint Roger Federer the greatest of all time if he isn’t the greatest of his own time,” Carillo said in Melbourne on Saturday. “And it’s not just on red clay. Nadal has the edge on hard courts as well. Like in boxing, it’s all about the matchup. When Roger is playing at his luminous best he has no need to worry about the other side of the net.

“But if he is playing Nadal, even his best is often not enough.”

With 35 titanic clashes over the last 13 years, Federer and Nadal have staked their claim as the greatest rivalry in sporting history. In tennis, time is a commodity. Careers don’t last forever. It’s not the longest-running rivalry of all-time, but it is arguably the most pervasive, transcending Federer and Nadal themselves and becoming a staple of modern culture.

From Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo in football to Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier in boxing, Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer in golf and Larry Bird-Magic Johnson in the NBA, there have been many legendary rivalries over the years, but few have captured the imagination quite like Roger vs. Rafa. They have made each other stronger, more influential figures both between the lines and away from the court.

Pat Rafter says Rafa, Pat Cash says Roger. Rod Laver and others also divided.

Nadal has won each of their last six meetings in Grand Slams, twice in Paris, three times in Australia and once at Wimbledon. Going by all these numbers, it is likelier that Nadal’s Grand Slam tally will go up to 15, than Federer climbing to 18. Unless Federer can combine the break opportunities of the first 26 matches with the conversion rate of the last eight.

“It’s arguable their biggest ever match and I think, assuming that Roger is fit, then you kind of feel the conditions will suit him. But it’s 51 per cent, 49 per cent – I don’t think there is a clear-cut favourite right now.”

This is the final no one expected but nearly everyone wanted. A fortnight ago, nobody outside their immediate circles would have predicted that the title would be decided between the world No17 and the world No9 in a stretch of competition where Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are so far ahead of the field that their nearest rival is Milos Raonic, the ailing Canadian who went out to Nadal in the quarter-finals.


AUDIO: Tennis podcast: ‘Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the greatest of all time’, says John McEnroe | The Telegraph

John McEnroe believes that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are already the two greatest male tennis players ever to draw breath. Ahead of the final, which will be played on Sunday morning in the UK, McEnroe joined Catherine Whitaker (Eurosport) for an interview that we can hear in its entirety here on the Tennis Podcast.

“They are the two greatest of all-time already, but this gives Roger a change to extend his lead to 18 Slams or Rafa to narrow the gap to just two,” said McEnroe.



  1. Rafa, Rafa, Rafa my darling Grandson you don’t have that extra little bit of luck which is needed in a game like this. I prayed so hard for you. My heart broke when I saw the terribly sad look on your face n knew how you were hurting. Roger said it well “wish there could be a Draw in Tennis”! So proud of you my boy – you played some of the toughest matches in the AO2017 n won … ’till the final. You’re still the King of Clay n as John McInroe said, in his opinion, “Nadal n Federer are the two greatest Tennis players n Legends”. Vamos Rafa, follow the Slams n Win. Go Rafa Go. I am so proud of you. God bless you. Your Aussie Abuela Nan Shirley. ⏳👑😀😊😇🎈🎈

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