The clash of titans
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

In July 2008, probably the greatest match in tennis history took a total of seven hours, including rain delays.  It was the longest championship match in the history of Wimbledon.  Rafael Nadal, in capri pants and sleeveless shirt defeated Roger Federer for his first Wimbledon title and the $940,000 top prize. This was the last time they battled on Wimby’s Center Court.

When this year’s Wimbledon draw was released, it was almost a foregone conclusion that discounting any misfortune, Novak Djokovic will be facing the winner of the Nadal-Federer semis match and it looks like it’s going that way.

Tomorrow, the two tennis demigods will meet for their 40th match all-time and their first time in eleven years in the Wimbledon semifinals.  This will be another epic battle between two legends who won a combined 38 majors title.  Head-to-head, Nadal leads Federer 25 matches to 14.  Recently, they met also at the semifinals of this year’s French Open where Nadal dominated Federer in three sets, eventually winning the title over Dominic Thiem.

The Fed Express had won 8 Wimbledon titles compared to Nadal’s 2.  In their 3 meetings at the Wimbledon Finals, Federer has the upper hand with 2 wins as to Nadal’s 1.  Whoever wins in tomorrow’s match will face the winner of the other semis match between Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut.  

The four semifinalists are well over their 30s.  Rafa, Novak and Agut are 33, 32 and 31 respectively.  Federer at 37, is considered old among athletes in whatever sport but for him, age is but a number as he had been winning over players much younger than him.

If Rafa is the King of Clay and rules Roland Garros, Federer’s specialty is grass and the All England Club is his territory.   He had always been the crowd favorite at Wimbledon and it will be like playing on home court with the fan support.  If you had seen his matches, the crowd really loves Federer.

On the way to this classic match, both had been playing very well.  In five matches, Nadal only dropped a set in that match with Nick Kyrgios at his Kyrgio-est behavior.  Federer dropped just two sets in five matches, both in the first sets.  The odds will be even but Rafa, because he’s 4 years younger, will have a very minimal edge over Roger.

Of Federer’s 20 majors title, 6 are from the Australian Open, 1 French Open, 8 Wimbledon and 5 US Open.  Nadal’s 18 comes from 1 Australian Open, an amazing 12 French Open, 2 Wimbledon and 3 US Open.  They had never met at the US Open Finals and maybe if they won’t be on the same draw, we could be seeing them on the Finals at Flushing Meadows next month.

This is not to discredit Djokovic but tomorrow’s clash of tennis titans might as well be the Wimbledon Championships.  And then again, me and the wifey will be rooting separately.  I’m going for Uni Qlo, she’ll be with Nike.

With a 12% increase in total prize money, the four semifinalists are already assured of $662,000 each.  This year’s Wimbledon champion goes home with $2.98 million and $1.49 million for the runner-up.  In pro tennis, men and women get equal pay.

I just hope that in our lifetime, we’ll get to see someone with Filipino blood eventually qualify for any of the Grand Slam events.

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