May 16, 2010

A Rivalry Renewed

Do you realize it was exactly a year ago that Roger Federer last met Rafael Nadal on a tennis court?

The last time so much time passed before the two faced each other was between their very first two meetings: Rafa beat Roger in the third round of Miami in 2004 -- Fed avenged that loss in the '05 finals in an amazing, 3-plus hour five-setter which would set the stage for the next half-decade of back and forth, and back again.

Today in the Madrid finals, Rafael Nadal had a couple goals in mind -- a win would give him a record Masters 1000 titles and his first in Madrid. He would also get revenge after last year's heart-breaking loss which ended his long undefeated streak on clay. Of course, Roger had his own agenda -- he hadn't won a tournament since Melbourne and had lost to some surprising opponents over the last few months. Defending the title he won so solidly last year would certainly give him some confidence going into Paris.

The match was a long two sets, spanning more than two hours, with the storied rivals trading breaks early and fairly often. Nadal gave up leads twice and ultimately needed a second set tiebreak to seal the deal. With it, he won his twenty-eighth trophy on clay and kept his year-to-date record on the surface perfect at 15-0. More importantly, he turns the momentum back in his favor -- last year's loss ended a five-match win streak over Federer and preceded a multi-month span riddled with injuries and early(ish) losses.

And it couldn't come at a better time -- it's been almost sixteen months since Roger and Rafa have faced each other at a Grand Slam, and now just a week away from the start of the French Open, it's good to know we're probably not that far away from seeing the next epic battle. Whatever the score line reads, you know these two always put on a show -- and as they continue to go after each other's records it stands to reason it's only gonna get better from here.

And I can't wait to watch it!


Anonymous said...

What about that whiff at the end? I can't believe you didn't comment!

Kavitha said...

No, you're absolutely right. I had to watch that last point over and over again to make sure I saw it correctly! Roger must've had a momentary brain lapse!