“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
That was certainly the case for two tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the early 2000’s. They saw way too much of each other with the net between them in the hottest rivalry in men’s tennis at that time.
But time dimmed the lights and a friendship grew. In fact they came together on a project that was true to both their hearts, the future of the game. Federer attended the ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of Nadal’s tennis academy.
“I was blown away by that academy and by what Rafa was able to build there,” Federer said.
Now these two opposed one another for the 2017 Australian Open Final and all eyes were upon them once more. The stories were inspiring. Federer leaving the sport for six months to tend to his health and he showed he could learn from Nadal in his comeback from knee surgery.
“I thing is Rafa’s always been unbelievable at comebacks,” Federer said, “I think maybe on this occasion, he’s going to lead the way for me, to show how it’s done.”
He has also re-invented himself, altering his game to more of a net aggressor. Nadal, the Spanish splinter in Federer’s hand for twelve years leads the series 23-11. No one else did as well against the best in tennis. They are the only men to finish in the top two for six straight years. Together they have won 31 Grand Slam titles.
That’s what makes this match so tastefully surreal. You know what you are going to get. Nadal has won all three finals against Federer. Until now. It was close and competitive as it always is with these two. But this time Federer pulled out the five set classic as they traded the first four sets until finally the rebranded Federer rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 6-3. And they are still friends.