It seemed like last year we couldn’t get away from Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray. The two constantly went head-to-head in the battle for numerous titles in the tennis world and it was always expected to see them in the final.
Once upon a time, it was the same story for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But after a year plagued with nagging injuries and father time for both of the tennis greats, it seemed that their chapter had closed for good. Federer and Nadal clearly had no such plans, as they met in the final everybody hoped for on Sunday at the 2017 Miami Open.
It was the third time they have faced off this year, and their 37th all-time meeting. The match was full of significance, as their storied rivalry began 13 years ago on the very same court in Key Biscayne. On this day it went to Federer, 6-3 6-4. It marks the third time he has won the Miami Open and the fifth time Nadal has finished second at the same tournament. “I truly believe you are going to still win this tournament. You’re too good not to,” said Federer to the Spaniard after the match.
Nadal still leads the series between the two 23-14, though he is 0-3 against Federer in 2017, including losses at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and now Miami. “When you play that many times, that’s the first thing. When you are number one and two in the world for so long, that’s another thing,” said Nadal with regards to their rivalry.
At 35 years old, Federer is now the oldest to ever win men’s singles at the Miami Open. He will now take a break before returning for the French Open this summer. One fact almost forgotten in the excitement of this rejuvenated rivalry is the absence of superstars Djokovic and Murray at this competition. The biggest takeaway of all from this Open may be the resurgence of the “Big 4” in men’s tennis, one that used to dominate every Grand Slam, barely allowing room for others.
Prior to this January, Federer had not won a Grand Slam since 2012. Nadal has not won one since 2014. But they are showing their longevity in tournament play and have consistently defeated younger players. One can only wonder what will happen when the Big 4 clash again; the only thing for certain is that tennis is back in its prime.
Federer displayed his strong mentality today in defeating his greatest rival for the third time running this season. But a fifth second-place trophy for Nadal only serves as inspiration as we head into the busy summer season of tennis. Says Rafa: “I think I’m ready to win more titles.”