Today (which I guess is technically tomorrow for the Aussies) Rafa Nadal won his first Australian Open Title over Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2. Vamos Rafa!!
The match was over 4 hours long and very intense. I saw about the final two hours of it live. Luckily I was able to see match point around 8am EST before I had to run off to my race in Central Park. It was a great match... until the 5th set, where for no real reason, Fed kinda gave up. I mean, "gave up" is too harsh. He certainly didn't want to lose, but after 4 hours of playing, it seemed like Fed suddenly didn't believe he would win. It's often said that the 5th set comes down to heart, and Rafa is all heart. For some reason Rafa has Federer's number. Evidence? Fed's record against non-Rafa opponents in Grand Slam Finals? 11-0. His record against Rafa in Slam Finals? 2-5. Rafa is 3-0 in the last three slam final meetings and has a13-6 edge on Federer in career meetings. It was clearly on Fed's mind as he lost serve twice in the final set.
So I went off to the race content in the knowledge that Rafa had won and that I could watch the speeches on DVR when I got back. What I was not expecting, upon return to my apartment was that Federer was totally distraught during the Trophy Presentation. He was crying! He couldn't address the crowd. The crowd went crazy for him, trying to will him into composure by showering him with cheers of love. He couldn't do it. He went back to compose himself while Rafa got his trophy which led to this awkward moment.
I felt so bad for him! Federer is a classy guy and I DO believe when all is said and done that he will get the 15 championships he wants so much. He'll have many more chances. Rafa can't win every major for the next 5 years! And Fed can beat anyone else on the planet. So it will happen. Don't worry too much, Fed!
A lovely moment at the end was when Rafa, seeing how broken up Fed was, reached around and hugged him around the neck. It seemed to snap Fed out of his emotional state and gave him the opportunity to step back up and say some gracious closing remarks. Best of luck for the season, Roger!
I love my Rafa. Champion on Clay, Grass and now Hardcourt. And on the tennis court of my heart. Rest well, young man. You've got a long season ahead of you. I'll be watching!