Roger Federer has not lifted a Grand Slam trophy since Wimbledon 2012. Aged 35 in a sport where you start playing at five, the almost-never-injured Roger succumbed to knee injury (and surgery) last year. He was out for six months. This, despite a previous record where he appeared in 65 consecutive majors.
This 2017, the 17-major titlist is the lowly 17th seed. Can he or his compatriot Rafael Nadal — both a combined age of 65 — triumph in Melbourne? Do the old dogs still have the dog-fight to clash in the finals? I hope. I wish.
Rafa beat Sasha Zverez last Saturday in five sets. Same with Roger. Against Kei Nishikori, RF finished with 24 aces and 83 winners.
“The last shot, when it didn’t come back, it was an enormous joy,” Roger said, after an exhausting 3 hours and 24 minutes. “I think I’m playing better and better. I felt great in the fifth (set). Great energy.”
How about those Zverev brothers? The younger German (Sascha, only 19) pushed Nadal to nearly fall down in Down Under. The older one (Misha, 29) will play Federer in today’s quarterfinals.
Tennis fan or not, if you have cable TV, watch the Oz Open finale this week. Or, with internet connection, go to YouTube and choose from a myriad of 15-minute summarized contests.
NICK TORRES. A former Class A netter whom I exchanged volleys with at the defunct Cebu Tennis Club, Mr. Torres sent me this message last Sunday:
“When I saw Aleksandr (for the first time) beat RF last month, I was so impressed by his maturity and demeanor that I told my friends that he was a sure bet for top 10. I only saw his elder bro today. I was saddened that Mischa didn’t come into his full potential earlier. Unbelievable how he dismantled one of the best returners and defensive specialists of the game with the almost-extinct serve and volley game. Best of all, if you appreciate humility, grace, and magnanimity in victory, ya gotta see his match with Murray.”
Then, yesterday morning, this SMS from him: “Now that he has the best chance in a very long time to win another slam, my love for RF got the better of me. I’m rooting for him again. Zverev or no Zverev! A 17th seed winning a Slam? Only one man could do that. The G.O.A.T.!”