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Triumphant comeback

Triumphant comeback
Highlights

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal; Venus Williams vs Serena Williams! Anyone seeing such a fixture in a tennis Grand Slam singles final ought to be forgiven if he is under the mistaken notion that he had picked up a newspaper of a decade-and-half back. 

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal; Venus Williams vs Serena Williams! Anyone seeing such a fixture in a tennis Grand Slam singles final ought to be forgiven if he is under the mistaken notion that he had picked up a newspaper of a decade-and-half back.

That is the sense of Déjà vu one will experience when introspecting the Australian Open that concluded on a spectacular note at Melbourne on Sunday. The invigorating outcome reinforces a romantic charm to the sport as it brings back memories of the golden past when these four ruled the world.

Suddenly, it appears like the circuit is all set for a new World Order whereupon 35+ will be the new 20. None in their wildest imaginations would have predicted or foreseen such a magical climax and such an exciting roller-coaster ride in the season opener.

It should go to the credit of all the four that they were incredible while brushing aside the pretensions of the others in contention with nonchalant ease. In a sport that can have only one winner, in this case Federer and Serena, the mindboggling achievements of Nadal and Venus are equally inspirational. Stretching the limits of possibility, three of the four were making comebacks and each roared back on a tellingly thunderous note.

It was an extraordinary Grand Slam and one that exemplifies to the fullest the oft-repeated quote – form is temporary, class is eternal. Of course, this should not undermine the brilliance of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, who fell to inspired opponents.

Like old wine, the Fab Four demonstrated that even in a ruthlessly competitive sport like tennis, where stamina, temperament and youthful exuberance make for a potent combination, a dash of the vintage can uncork champagne stuff.

As gutsy performers and past masters, who have been there and done that, they went the extra mile to raise the bar while conquering the pretenders to the throne, along the way. There is no denying that the Swiss maestro was speaking for all four when he contended ‘I had the mindset that I had nothing to lose.’ That winning formula, which even Leander Paes seems to have in abundance, is the mantra every youngster would need to follow.

Even as one falls short of superlatives to describe the Federer phenomena, which has assumed a one-of-kind cerebral aura, one feels tad sorry for Venus, who failed to eclipse her more gifted sibling, in the twilight of her golden career.

Sadly or otherwise, questions will gradually crop up as to whether we are close to the end of the Federer and Venus eras. Perhaps, yes. But a winning tempo may compel any living legend to rethink on his priorities and continue the journey bar if you are the odd Pete Sampras, Ian Thorpe or a Sunil Gavaskar, who called on time when people were still wondering ‘why now.’

Leaving aside emotions and sentiments, a graceful exit with head held high will add to the immortal status of the one and only Roger Federer, inarguably the greatest conqueror of the open era.

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