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A FEDERER'S SPECIAL

THE KNIGHT OF TENNIS

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Roger-Federer.pep.zone FOR ASTOUNDING FEDERER GRAPHICS

In 1980 Bjorn Borg defeated his infamous rival John McEnroe in the Wimbledon final in what became known as the greatest match ever played. The duo followed up their all-time classic encounter with another five set final at the US Open in New York two months later. Though not played at as high a level as their meeting in London, it was nonetheless a tight and compelling match with McEnroe eking out a 6-4 victory in the deciding set denying Borg yet again on the hard courts in Flushing.

The two would meet again in both the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 1981 with McEnroe emerging victorious in both contests. Following the US Open that year, Borg vanished from the sport, never to return. The twisting, spinning serves of McEnroe that forced Borg off the court had become unsolvable to the stoic Swede -- in addition, the 11-time Grand Slam champion was suffering from burnout.

I couldn't help but think of that rivalry and the thin but undeniable parallels it draws to this age of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that we now inhabit. The tandem have appeared in the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon the last three years, surpassing the feat of Borg and McEnroe at Wimbledon and the US Open. And after all, Roger and Rafa played in the "newest" version of the greatest match ever played at Wimbledon seven months ago and followed that up with yesterday's thrilling five set battle which Nadal claimed with his physical imposition and shot-making genius. It was the third consecutive victory over Federer in a Grand Slam final, with each on a different surface.

One has to wonder whether Federer, like Borg before him, is now beset with nightmares of his archrival's best shots. Roger must have visions of seeing Nadal's thunderous, topspin ground strokes jumping up to eye level on his backhand side. Could this be the stroke that will deny Federer immortality,...


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