Fine wines get better with age.
Flavours mature, aromas develop and the longer it is left uncorked, the more suspense builds.
Roger and Rafa, the Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon of the tennis world, have bucked modern trends by having another chance at a Grand Slam.
The kicker is, they are playing each other.
Roger Federer has reached the Australian Open final aged 35.
The seventeenth seed swanned into Melbourne with no expectations. His knee injury six months ago caused a prolonged absence from the tour, causing the doubters – again – to announce that Roger was done, and the delightfully, smooth and subtle, Pinot Noir would no longer be savoured.
Lo and behold, here he is with a chance at Grand Slam number eighteen.
The attacking and brutish Zverev, who gave our boy Andy a rather hard time, was swatted aside. It was counter attacking tennis at it’s very best as world class passing shots flew passed with such regularity that you simply expected it.
What followed was a tough draw against another good vintage, his countryman Stan Wawrinka.
A brutal slugging match of a semi-final saw Roger come out on top, albeit with a few medical time-outs to remind us they are getting on a bit.
A good example of this was at 5-2 in the second set, after going down 15-0 in the game, he lazily let Stan cruise that game. This enabled him to come out firing and take that set in the following game.
Roger, and this drawn-out metaphor, have carried on well beyond what they should have.
So, to his opponent in the final…
Rafa Nadal is the bombastic full bodied red that a dinner party ploughs through a case of, before the main course is even served.
Full of flavour, intensity and passion, your thirst is certainly quenched, but you’ll need a lie down afterwards.
Many tennis fans forget that Rafa Nadal is second to Roger in Grand Slam victories. His fourteen Majors are only matched by the great Pete Samprass. His knees may have given him some significant trouble over the past few years, but we must not forget how good the Spaniard is.
Keen followers of #TheSportsBlog will be bored of the throwbacks to the 2008 Wimbledon Final, but if Sunday’s final is even mentioned in the same breath as that spectacle, we are in for a treat.
Nadal played for almost two hours longer in his semi-final versus the developing Dimitrov, and will have a full 24 hours less to recover than Roger.
In their old maturing age, fatigue becomes an important factor.
However, it is the Spaniard that is the bookies favourite.
A ‘New World’ Finalé
It seems fitting that a ‘New World’ location gives us a different way of enjoying these two vintage players.
Australian wines have become some of the best in the world, as has its unsung hero status of a tennis tournament.
Its early scheduling in the calendar year means that a player’s season can be made, in January.
Djokovic’ first two Grand Slams were both in Melbourne. Thus giving him the belief that he could perform in the other three Slams.
How wonderful that the seventeenth – Roger – and ninth – Rafa – ranked players could already create the greatest spectacle of the year at the end of January?
Tune in at 8.30am (GMT) on Sunday morning to enjoy.