The RaGing Bull..

Where do we start? If you’re a tennis fan and have watched the 5 hour 24 minutes blockbuster Australian Open 2022 Men’s singles Final, you would be still reeling under some sort of elation, part relief, part reverence like I do to one of the finest comebacks ever on a tennis court. Touted as match up between a 35 year old Spanish Raging Bull (Rafael Nadal) against 25 year old The Russian Evil Genius (Daniil Medvedev), odds were stacked against Rafael Nadal leading up to the final, more so after an hour of play in the first two sets of the final. Pre match, the win predictor favored Danil 64% over Rafa 36%. Midway through the match in the 3rd set, the AI predictor with all its learning from historic data; its permutations and combinations, favored Danill 96% over Rafa 4%. And Rafa with all his determination and resilience, fought and won against all odds in one of the dramatic comebacks which seemed unreal even for a sophisticated AI system.

Lets be honest, Daniil was the favorite to win. After Novak Djokovic’s dramatic ouster from Australia for failing a vaccination clause, he was the best hard court player on tour. Hard court is usually least preferable surface for Rafa’s game plan and his chances. More so, he was making a comeback after a 7 month gap from a career threatening injury. For God’s sake, Rafa was using crutches due to a foot injury, suffered from Covid delaying his recovery big time. He was not sure whether he was competing in the slam two months back. Just before the match started, someone on my Twitter timeline asked what is your prediction? I casually said result in favor of Rafa in 4 sets, and if Daniil wins say first 2 sets, then Rafa would give his all and win next 2 sets to take the match to 5th set. Even though it would end up as a 5 set thriller, never thought Rafa would endure like he always does and have a belief to compete until last point is scored. A master class and a triumph of his endurance, his resilience, tenacity & his belief which is a inspiration for many.

Picture courtesy: ATP Tour

Rafa first won in Rod Laver arena in 2009 against his arch rival Roger Federer moving him to tears after a hard fought final. In 2012, he competed and lost against Novak Djokovic in a 5 hour 53 minutes slugfest. Both were deserving given the kind of tennis quality they played for close to 6 hours straight, such was their endurance during the course of the match, that during presentation both couldn’t stand straight and had to take a support of a chair to sit during the felicitation. It was unreal tennis, longest tennis match played in Open Era, the result was cruel and kind of unfair to Rafa. In 2014, Rafa had to concede against Stan Wawrinka due to a back injury during the course of the final. He was unlucky on the day of the final after doing lot of hard work to reach the finals. In 2017, a mouth watering clash ended with Roger Federer finding his mojo in the 5th set decider after trailing some games initially. Roger was 35 back then and it was one of my favorite match featuring these champions, a visual treat. So, it was only fitting that he won the historic 21st slam in the Australian Open the way he did it the way he does best, fighting till the end.

If you dissect yesterday’s match, well what can one say- it has a perfect storyline where the hero triumphs against (the odds) in the end. If you think about a typical storyline and divide it into acts: Act 1- Exposition with inciting moments(pre-match, odds and the buzz), Act 2- Complication (losing first 2 sets), Act 3- Turning point(turnaround after Rafa was 2 sets, 2-3 0-40 down in 3rd set), Act 4- Falling action(role reversal; comeback- winning 3rd and 4th set), Act 5- Resolution and Catharsis where he wins the decider 7-5 leading to a frenzy of emotions. Best comebacks ever if there was one.

Now the debate moves on to who is the Greatest of All Times, the G.O.A.T, now that Rafa has taken a lead with 21 slams leaving behind Federer and Novak on 20. What do you think? If you ask me, World No. 1 Novak would go on to win more slams than anybody else and Roger with all his elegance, his passion for the game and pure artistry may never win again, but the kind of awe, Rafa brings to the table by his endurance, his fighting spirit, his humility in spite of his great achievements, his respect for the game and his opponents and in turn commanding our respect, he to me is the G.O.A.T

P.S: In last 20 years, starting from 2003 AO until 2022 AO, Roger, Rafa and Novak together has won 80% of the slams(61 out of 76 slams). Isn’t that astounding? Aren’t we lucky to witness this, in this golden era of tennis history? After all, when these guys compete against each other, its tennis which ultimately wins. Have to confess, I spent considerable amount of time debating in my mind, who I would pick among Roger and Rafa as my 🐐, ended up picking Rafa for the reasons stated above. Though, over the years whenever these 2 champions have competed at the biggest stage, I generally do not root for any one player as its easier to enjoy and appreciate the way they compete and set the bar high in turn raising the quality of the game itself.

Signing off, until next time, Be Resilient and Have Belief in your Game!!


Is this a good generation to be in to watch tennis especially Grand Slams? I believe so. I ain’t an expert; I only started watching tennis in late 2006. But seeing the way how hard it’s fought especially in the fag end of the tournament with quality tennis involved, I believe so. Haven’t seen much of Pete Sampras or Agassi play tennis, but I like the crop of players coming up starting from Roger Federer .

First up,lets talk about Roger Federer.He has an aura like Sachin Tendulkar has in cricket. When he came, he conquered and played better tennis like no one else do. He was and is the undisputed champion and one of the best to hold the tennis racket.He is the one who demands respect from all quarters whether you like his game or not.Someone has rightly said, it’s easy to get to the top but it takes guts and determination to maintain your position at the top.A 237 consecutive week stretch at the top from 2004-2008,that’s Roger Federer for you.

Then came Rafael Nadal and challenged him at his game.Forced him to work harder for a win. That was a golden period for me to just start of watching the great rivalry and these two great players compete. Everyone used to long for that big final where more often than not these 2 players landed up. I like this game, no sledging or teasing as in cricket, it’s all in the mind. A stare or a quiet and small celebration for winning a point with crowds cheering and then back to square one and you are focused on your next serve.Rafael Nadal-The King of Clay as he is often called, beat Roger at clay twice in 2006 and 2007 when Roger had won all other 3 grand slams of the year. That says something of how good Nadal was in Roland Garros. Nadal even went onto challenge Roger at grass in Wimbledon where he held his fort for long. Tat 2008 Wimbledon win over Roger in an epic 5 setter match is still the best I have seen in numerous contests between these two champs.From 2006 to 2008 they have played against in every French Open and Wimbledon final. Nadal younger than Roger known for his power hitting and stamina coupled with Roger’s class and elegance,made a great rivalry and a treat to all tennis fans.

Meanwhile Djokovic quietly made his mark by winning 2008 Australian Open and beating Federer in the semis. On both occasions- in 2008 and 2011,Djokovic beat Federer in straight sets in the Australian Open.In 2011, he went onto win 3 grand slams except French Open beating the best in the process and thus making an ascent to World Number 1 ranking.In 2012 Australian Open,he won an 5 set thriller defeating Andy Murray in the semis with the best yet to come in the finals. In the finals, in what could be the longest Grand Slam match in Open Era clocking at 5 hour 53 minutes he won an epic 5 set grueling match defeating Nadal. Nadal played equally well and it could be anybody’s game but seriously anyone would want to win an epic as big as this.That was something special from Djoker as he is fondly called. But Nadal avenged his Australian Open defeat by beating Djoker in Roland Garros. From Fedex-Rafa rivalry , it turned into Fedex-Rafa-Djoker trivalry.

Andy Murray felt left out when he went so close to win one but eventually fell short by some distance to win a Grand Slam.He was defeated by Federer in 2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open both in straight sets and in 2012 Wimbledon in a 4 setter. Andy lost 3 consecutive grand slam semis to Nadal in 2011. They have never met in a grand slam final. 2012 US Open marked his first Grand Slam win by defeating Djoker in a 5 setter match. But turning point for him was winning Olympic Gold final match over Roger Federer just weeks after getting defeated in Wimbledon and also winning against Djoker in the process. After this win, he looks as good as the Big 3 with a belief to win against anyone. He went onto win a first grand slam match by defeating Federer in this year’s Australian Open in yet another epic encounter. However Djoker defeated Andy in a 4 setter final to mark his hat trick in Australian Open.Going by 2012 Grand Slams, each one of the 4 champs has won a  Grand Slam- Novak started off with Australian Open, Nadal clinched French open trophy,Federer was Wimbeldon champion and Murray won US Open.So with Fedex-Rafa-Djoker-Andy the trivalry has turned into a quadvalry.

Hope this Big 4 continue to perform and give us many such epic encounters.

P.S.- I have one unfulfilled wish. I want to see both Nadal and Federer in a final that too in a French Open preferably the next one..I want it to be a 5 setter with Federer winning dramatically.