MELBOURNE - For the first time in years, the two best men’s tennis players of all time battled it out in a final: Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal at the Old Timers’ 30-and-up USTA 5.0 Circuit Championship.
Last year, the tennis world was rattled when both Federer and Nadal decided to retire within a month of each other. But the tennis legends didn’t stay out of the spotlight for long. Two months after their retirement, their fans were delighted to discover that the pair intended to continue their tennis dominance, not at Grand Slam Tournaments, but at age-restricted, 30-and-up high-level USTA regional championships that they’re eligible to compete in now that their USTA rankings have dipped below 1000 each. The first of these was the Old Timers’ event, the first 30+ tournament in the 2017 season.
“My fans always tell me: Roger, you’re 35, you’re past your prime, you can’t win another major. But I know I can compete. So when I enter these local USTA tournaments, I don’t feel like I’m playing Novak. I don’t feel like I’m playing Andy. I feel like I’m dominating again, the best to ever touch a racquet. That feeling… it’s everything I chase.”
Soon after Roger’s retirement, Nadal decided that he, too, couldn’t bear to play tennis if Federer wasn’t around.
“I played the game for Roger. My sole purpose in tennis was to thwart as much of Roger’s success as possible, and I feel like I’ve done an admirable job with that.”
“But now that he’s out, what’s the point in fighting? Too easy, no?” said Nadal back in September 2016. After leaving the pro game and joining the 30+ USTA League, Nadal found joy again: he had yet another chance to beat Roger Federer.
After the hotly anticipated final, both the victorious Federer and the vanquished Nadal collapsed on the court, but they came to just in time for the early bird special.
Image Credit: BBC Tennis