After a really long time, I could see an epic Wimbledon final. Federer won 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-2 against Nadal in a super clash, yesterday at Wimbledon. I couldn’t say with certainty that Nadal was a loser here. He definitely elevated himself to a high level to give a genuine fight against the master of grass court tennis, arguably since Sampras. I always tend to believe that Sampras’s era had some of the great opponents to have ever played tennis, let alone the 7 time Wimbledon champion himself. Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter both would have scaled few more grandslam titles, if only not there was a certain Sampras. This is in stark contrast to the kind of opponents Federer has to play these days. This by no means should take away the champion in Federer. I have no doubt in my mind about the genius of Federer. In fact, I am a huge Federer fan, as much as I was a Sampras fan. These men often produced something amazing when you thought it was impossible.
Now, yesterdays final brought in a very different event in this Roger Federer dominated tennis era. Now here is someone, who can challenge Federer in his backyard. We all know that, Nadal is the undisputed champion on clay, but on grass, the weights are heavily in favour of Federer until yesterday. This year Wimbledon final was not anywhere close to a walkover for Fedex. There was very little of tennis which separated between these two fine tennis champions. As a tennis follower, what else could you have wished for? A thrilling five setter, almost symmetrical and the tie breaker decides 3 out of the 5 sets!
Recently, Nirmal shekar in his ‘The Hindu’ column had compared the two grass court champions, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. He opined that, if both of these were playing at their respective peaks, Sampras would have won seven out of ten on grasss and six out of ten on hard courts. On clay Federer could outclass Sampras eighty percent of time, says Nirmal Shekhar. I kind of had a similar feeling, when Nirmal Shekhar compared the list of opponents these two fine players faced/face in their respective playing days. As always, there are ifs and buts with these hypothetical analysis, when you compare two time lines.
But, with the emergence of Nadal as a strong allround player, not only on his favourite clay, but also on speedy grass courts, we are hopefully for better and competing days of tennis. This is what tennis lovers want. Stronger challenges to scale the level of even champions like Federer. For sure, this will take Federer to the next level and Nadal to the next stage of his exponential master curve.
And, what a way Federer taking seats at the pantheon of greats? Now, he has equaled Bjorn Borg’s record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles. Borg was there watching the game. He must have been surely proud of this Swiss. Can he equal Sampras’s seven Wimbledon titles? Time can only tell it. Considering the form he is in, we cant be wrong to predict it on the positive. For that to happen, he must be injury free and fit for the coming days. These are among the least things to reach that higher levels. The other hindrance may perhaps is the Nadal factor itself. The twenty year old Nadal could perhaps write few epics in the history, if he gets improving. I am certainly looking forward to more such clashes.