Federer edges Nadal to win year-end World Tour Final

And here we thought we had seen the last days of the Rafa-Roger rivalry. With a season when these two great rivals haven’t met at a final in any of the 4 Grand Slams this year, some sensed that their legendary rivalry may have been over. Yet last night at the O2 London Arena, we were enthralled by another classic clash between these two amazing players as they slugged it out to finish the year with the Tour Final crown.

It was a dream final. It promised to add another compelling chapter to their great rivalry. There were certainly high expectations for both players to bring everything they got. It was no less of a highly charged match between this generation’s best players and [unarguably] two of the greatest of all time.

Ah, what a fitting finish to an awesome season in tennis! The world has once again witnessed another mouth-watering showdown and an edge-of-your-seat finalé when tennis titans (and legends) Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer faced on-court for the last and most important tournament of the year after the 4 major Grand Slams—the Barclays ATP  World Tour Finals, where only the year-end Top 8 players get to battle it out for the title.

Nadal reacts as he loses a point and eventually the match

This is the first time that these two greats have met at the final of this tournament with Federer winning it 4 times and Nadal still looking to capture it for the first time. The Spaniard has done poorly at this tournament not ever reaching at least the semifinals for the last 4 years. But as luck may have run out, Nadal has squandered an opportunity to capture the only major title missing from his already impressive and enviable résumé with Federer prevailing 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Certainly, this meet-up will only fuel the debate over Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer as the Greatest of All Time. And it just seems to never cease and will most likely go on even after these two amazing athletes’ careers are over. I mean who could really have the final say as to who is the greatest? The world of sports is tricky. Sure, the stats are there to support a claim of a player’s greatness above others. But then again, everything in sports is arguable and relative. But one thing is hard to argue: the Rafa-Roger rivalry really is the best of all-time.

Many may believe that this year could not have been better for Nadal as he was able to dominate this season bouncing back from last year’s 11-month title drought. It is to be commended that it took a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment to be able to achieve what he has done for the past 12 months.

Winning the Tour Final was supposed to be the last of 6 things I wanted Nadal to achieve this year. When the tennis world saw his resurgence during the clay-court season, I knew that this year will be one of his best yet. So, I decided to come with the things I was sure of him accomplishing but unfortunately he came one goal short.

The other 5 goals I had for Nadal as follows:

  • Reclaim Roland Garros title
  • Regain No. 1 ranking
  • Win 2nd Wimbledon crown
  • Capture that ever elusive US Open trophy
  • End the year at No. 1

Understandably, Nadal can’t win them all. But this defeat will only super-charge Nadal in trying to improve even better in the coming season. I know that he will eventually nab that Tour Final crown. He will have the same, even greater motivation to do it as he has done so with his US Open win this year, which took him 2 straight semi-final losses before winning it. And as much as I hate saying this, I think we can see more of Federer in the next few years. Perhaps tons more Rafa-Roger Grand Slam finals? That ought to be an enticing prospect!

2010 is definitely a year of dominance and a comeback from a dismal 2009 season for Nadal. This year, he has won 3 straight Grand Slam titles, something Federer hasn’t been able to do. The Spaniard has also been a part of Spain’s winning team at the Davis Cup in 3 occasions and has won an Olympic gold medal in singles, both of which Federer is probably envious of Nadal (I see many Fedex fans squawking at this).

Nadal is now gunning to complete what is now touted as the ‘Rafa Slam’ if he manages to win the Australian Open next year. That surely is not a tall order for him, well as long as he keeps healthy and injury-free that is. Federer would be gritting through his teeth if Nadal completes the ‘Rafa Slam’ –winning 4 straight Grand Slams.

With 9 Grand Slams already at the age of 24 (only 24!), Nadal is edging closer to the all-time Grand Slam tally of 16, which is held by none other than Federer. The Mallorcan may not beat or at least equal that mark but he surely won’t stop at 9. He is bound to win a couple more given that he stays physically fit.

In the meantime, I am just holding my breath for Australian Open 2011 and the idea of Nadal completing the ‘Rafa Slam’ is just too much for me. But let’s just wait and see!

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