BACK TO BACK ACES

6th JULY 2008

A green coloured tennis ball is flung up in the air as it comes down in slow motion.

SMACK

A racquet, held by a left hand hits it, sending it flying to the other side of the net. The ball floats towards the greens confined by a square. It lands near the central line and bounces towards another racquet held in the right hand.

29th JANUARY 2017

Almost a decade later, another ball is flung into the air and is hit by the racquet in a right hand and lands at the exact same place except this time it lands on a hard blue and towards the player who had served it 9 years back.

6th JULY 2008

The ball is duly hit back, bouncing near the central line of the other side.

29th JANUARY 2017

The player stretches towards his right and sends the ball back, bouncing yet again near the same line as before.

6th JULY 2008

A fierce backhand drives it to the right side of the court.

29th JANUARY 2017

An elegant forehand caresses it to the right side of the court.

6th JULY 2008

It is returned, but only till the net which takes it in its embrace.

29th JANUARY 2017

The player runs but can not reach, head down, and legs stopping.

6th JULY 2008

The young Spaniard falls to the ground on his back, arms outstretched and then turned into a fist.

“There is a new man at the head of men’s tennis, RAFAEL NADAL”

29th JANUARY 2017

The 36 year old Swiss international takes to the air. Tears carving their way out, and legs jumping as high as they can.

“ROGER FEDERER has done it again and how! Grand slam number 18!”

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For almost a decade these two have enchanted the entire world with their tennis. One with elegance, finesse, and panache while the other with his raw strength, commitment, warrior spirit and fortress of a mentality. Having had numerous showdowns over the years, they spoiled their fans into believing that every time there will be a finals between the two. However, plagued by injuries and bad form, they slowly faded into the background as new players touched their pinnacles.

So after 6 years when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer defied all odds and reached the ultimate stage in the very first grand slam of this year, there was pandemonium all around, of happiness, excitement and nostalgia. It was like the feeling of getting back our childhood which we so desperately yearn for these days. The good old days.

You know it is something very special when one cannot decide whether to be happy or sad when the player he supports loses. Today was that day. When the review confirmed that Rafa had lost, It was heartbreaking, because he has never let us give up. Always finding a way back even with his back against the wall, we have always been led to keep hope for if someone can snatch victory out of the very jaws of defeat, its him. On the other hand when I saw Roger jumping, with tears in his eyes, it strangely made me feel happy.

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Having gone through the torrid time that he did. Being taken off the pedestal of being the best in the world, out of reach of any other person to being questioned about retirement after every loss, it needed qualities in amounts probably only he possessed to keep going. The pure, incomparable love for the game, the desire to get back to the top and the hunger to win. With one elegant forehand he wiped all the doubts anyone ever had.

The passion and mutual respect shared by them is something that can only be cherished till the end of time. Calling them rivals would be demeaning to the very crux of the sport. To compare them is an ever bigger crime. We have been blessed with the opportunity to witness two of the greatest personalities of a sport in our time. The only way we can do them justice is by cherishing the unique ways in which they inspire us and each other, for one will always be incomplete without the other.

It is only them who have the flair, charisma and grit to play out a 26 shot rally which by itself defines Tennis. There might’ve been only one person who lifted the cup today, but there were two who have lifted spirits, respect and innumerable emotions in every heart. There might’ve been only one winner today, but there were two champions. Always will be, for these two are living examples of men who epitomize the following:-

If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”

 -‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling

rafa-nadal-roger-federer-match-for-africa-charity-roger-in-red-shirt-rafa-in-yellow

Here’s to wishing them all the good health in the world and hoping that they turn every final into FeDal. Here’s to wishing more tears of happiness, gasps of admiration and the feeling of being blessed amongst all your fans for as long as possible.

THANK YOU, from the entire sports universe.

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