Forces combine on the tennis court as Federer and Nadal paired up for the first time to play their doubles match against the American team.
On the surface, tennis does not get as much attention as football, baseball, and basketball in the states. Venus and Serena Williams are two of the famous idols in the tennis world. But, there are other stars than the Williams twins who are taking the tennis world by storm. Two tennis idols are invading the tennis world with their smashing win in the Laver Cup. Swiss Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal won their first doubles match at the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. What makes this so special? These two players are making history by playing together for the first time.
Federer and Nadal played for the European side of a World team over the course of three days. They defeated Americans Sam Querry and Jack Sock 6-4, 1-6, and 10-5. Together, the boys have won thirty-five Grand Slam titles. Thanks to Federer and Nadal, the European Team now has a 9-3 lead in the Laver Cup. For eighty-one minutes, the boys paired up for the first time to play in the European Laver Cup. The crowds watched with bated breath. For tennis fans, this was like a dream come true for these popular titans on the court to team up for the Laver Cup. This pairing had been hyped as part of the match of the year with the build-up. With hype, comes the possibility for disappointment. Luckily for the audience, Federer and Nadal did not fail to deliver a wonderful match. There was a bit of a scare early on in the match when the boys raced over to hit the same ball. But thankfully, Federer pulled out in time, preventing a nasty collision between the two players. Nadal himself admitted that this would-be accident was too much energy for him.
“We will always be rivals as long as we are active. And after this, we will be rivals again.” Federer
Singles players paired up in doubles matches can sometimes ignite an unspoken magic rarely seen on the tennis court in this modern age. It all boils down to the right combination and skills to pull up such charm needed for the perfect game to be played. This especially goes for the men’s tour that involves a best-of-five set for matches to determine the winner. Amazingly, Federer had not played with a partner fully for two years. His last partner was with a fellow Swiss player named Stan Wawrinka in the Davis Cup back in 2015. Just like he did with Nadal, Federer set the match on fire with Wawrinka.
To prevent any miscommunication between the two players and different ideas slipping out to throw off a solid game plan, Federer and Nadal had to have quite a number of pre-point conferences. Just like everything else in the sports world, tennis has to be planned down just right to secure that coveted win. That being said, tennis skills are just as good as the players themselves. Federer and Nadal were gifted as such to carry their game. Federer is known to be lethal on the court with his playing, earning him the reputation as one of the last bastions in the tennis world. Meanwhile, Nadal is comfortable at the front of the court, giving him the advantage of touch and variety with his techniques. Querry and Sock did not make the game easy for them as expected. Sock himself has the 2014 title of Wimbledon Doubles with his then-partner, Canadian player Vasek Pospisil. On top of that, he plays a vicious spin-heavy game when he comes onto the court. Sock makes the ball constantly dip at his opponents’ feet. Couple that with using double tramlines, Federer and Nadal had their work cut out for them.
The match looked like smooth sailing for the European team at the start of the first set. But, Sock gave them a workout with his heavy forehands, giving the American team their win in the second set. Would Federer and Nadal pull through for the European side? They had to give it their all to break the tie. By great skill and luck, the boys pulled through on the final set. It would take first-time volley kills to get them back on top. The American time tried to take it back, but the European team was victorious! As Querry put it afterward, “Not only Roger and Rafa, but I think a lot of the other singles player in the top ten, if they really focused on the doubles, they could be in the mix for grand slams four times a year.” It sounds like the best players really enjoyed themselves in this heated match.
By the end of day two, the European team looked unstoppable for the year. With four matches to go on Sunday at noon on local time, three points are at stake for them to take home the title. But, there is the possibility that the European team could be dethroned in any of these matches. For now, Federer and Nadal can bask in their victory in their first doubles match.
Nadal said after the match, “It was an unforgettable day, after the history behind us to be on the same part of the court fighting for the team is something we enjoyed a lot.” He also said, “To have the possibility to have Roger next to me is a huge privilege… something I wanted to make happen at some point and today I made it happen.”
His partner added, “For me, personally, it is a great moment too. We only ever practiced once together, back at the World Tour Finals, so we don’t show each other a lot. We will always be rivals. But this was something very special, it was an absolute pleasure being on the court with Rafa and seeing his decision-making process.
“I understand that people only expect a win from us, but it’s very complicated, we’re playing indoors against the big servers, and I hadn’t played doubles for so long, I was trying to remember what to do.
“The two of us getting together, our two fan groups having to get together, that was interesting too. It was a success, but this isn’t just about us. The celebration of Rod Laver and having John and Bjorn there over-rides the doubles, but this was still an important moment for us.”
Surprisingly, they have been rivals in the past. For thirteen years, they played against each other for thirty-seven times. Federer is quoted saying, “We will always be rivals as long as we are active. And after this, we will be rivals again, but this was something very special. Knowing you can trust him in the big moments, seeing his decision-making, seeing his thought process, it was very interesting.” By the way, they looked on the court, Federer and Nadal looked like they were the best of friends. They giggled between points, high-fived every chance they got and even shared light-hearted exchanges during the changeovers. Sometimes, amazing things can happen when rivals join forces to take on a big match. Will this tennis world see these golden boys pair up again for another great match? Who can see? It might look like it might happen again like lighting in a bottle.