On Sunday, January 29 the world stopped talking politics for a short while as the most classic men’s final a Grand Slam tennis tournament could imagine today took place in the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne where the Australian Open men’s finals took place. The players in this final have both had storied careers determined by a shared high-quality rivalry; up to today they had played each other 34 times in professional tournaments, with the Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, having lead the head-to-head 23-11.
While 35-year-old Roger Federer, back to playing his first tournament after a six-month injury break, and celebrating the 100th Australian Open match in his career, took the court against the backdrop of a giant Rolex GMT-Master II watch flashing on the brand-new digital wall surrounding the tennis complex’s main show court, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic, perhaps even feeling some déjà vu: of course these two greats of modern tennis have played against each other many times in the finals of big tournaments. But the last time was already quite some time ago due to injuries both had sustained in 2016: November 2015 in the finals of the Swiss Indoors, which Federer won in three sets. That was his first win over Nadal in more than three years.