By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
Some of tennis’ greatest of all time turned back the clocks this past weekend, providing two classic matches in the first major championship of the season in Melbourne, Australia.
Serena Williams continued to prove her dominance in the women’s final by defeating her sister and seven-time major champion Venus. The win was her 23rd major title, one more than the great Steffi Graf and putting her alone at the top of most majors in women’s tennis history. The 6-4, 6-4 scoreline was not entirely indicative of the dominance that Serena displayed in the match, struggling briefly early in the first set but emphatically taking the trophy from her sister in just over an hour and 20 minutes. With the victory, Serena retakes the No. 1 overall ranking and will have held that spot for 310 weeks.
Williams was also spotted wearing a pair of shoes gifted to her by Michael Jordan after the match, clearly making light of the number correlation between Jordan and Williams’ victory.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer put on an absolute show for the fans in Melbourne and around the world in what was ultimately described as one of the most important tennis matches in history.
While two of the greatest of all time, recent times have not been smooth for the pair, with Nadal battling injury after injury and Federer dropping outside the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in years.
With players like Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka combined with the wealth of young talent in the game, fans wondered if we’d ever again see the Nadal-Federer rivalry that put on some of the best matches ever throughout the 2000s. Lo and behold, thanks to two 5-set victories each and some lucky breaks in terms of early upsets for Djokovic and Murray, the match was set up once again. After over three and a half hours of playing time, Federer was finally able to defeat Nadal, the one man who has given him the biggest trouble over the years, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6 and 6-3.
The match was deemed so important to the sport of tennis that when asked for his top-10 best players of all time before the match, ESPN tennis commentator Brad Gilbert provided a whole list with, “Player who wins this match” at No. 1 and “Player who loses this match” at No. 2.
Tennis fans around the world certainly rejoiced in seeing these four play in the biggest matches of the season so far, a reminder that the old guard has not yet given way to some of the incredible talent that is on its way up through the ranks to becoming some of the best in the world. Even in their mid-30s, normally the twilight of a tennis professional’s career, these four proved that they still belong at the top.