I remember watching the five setter Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played in Rome in 2006, way back when there were still five set finals in masters events and Rafa was still wearing his clam diggers. Actually, I wasn’t watching the match for some reason (now forgotten) but was watching the live score. Rafa won 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5). Yeah, that was a uniquely excruciating brand of torture for a Federer fan.
So seven years have passed and the two biggest names in tennis are finally facing each other again in the Eternal City. This is their twentieth meeting in a final and the thirtieth time in their overall careers. It’s pretty sexy looking in venue appropriate Roman numerals: Nadal vs. Federer XXX.
All that I know for sure: I won’t be watching this one via live score. I plan to sit back and enjoy, especially since both seem to be healthy (their much ballyhooed meeting in Indian Wells this March was marred by Roger’s obvious injury troubles) and only the Tennis Gods know how many more of these we’re going to get.
For those who care about the result of this match, meaning you don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion despite the fact that of the 14 times they’ve met on clay, Roger’s won only two of those, I think Roger’s summed up the strategy fairly well (via ATP): “It almost doesn’t matter what the surface or what the conditions are. I’ve got to play aggressive tennis and take it to Rafa.”
On the ladies’ side, most finals that involve Serena Williams are foregone conclusions, but we’ll be treated to some suspense as she takes on a budding rival in Victoria Azarenka. Sure, Vika has only beaten the World No. 1 twice in thirteen tries, but she’s proven that she can do it and, indeed, won their last meeting this February in Doha. To be frank: Thank God it’s not Masha again! This could be good fun.
See you on the other side!