The Federer-Nadal rivalry was forced to write a new chapter this weekend and fans from both camps will be hoping that it continues to last as long as possible.

Out of nowhere tennis fans across the world this week were treated to another edition of the closest thing Tennis has to El Classico, Rodger Federer versus Rafa Nadal. Though this match wasn’t the most eventful the two have had over their long rivalry, one that boasts its own Wikipedia page no less (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federer%E2%80%93Nadal_rivalry). Nevertheless, it provided substantial fodder for Rodger Federer fans that have had little to celebrate as of late and even less to say about whether the Federer versus Nadal rivalry exists anymore. Though that is partly owing to the fact that the final at the O2 arena this weekend was only their 2nd head to head match up on tour. At 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 some might incorrectly assess this as an outright thumping and re-changing of the guard on the subject of the no.1 ranked player in global tennis. However the nature of best of three set matches is such that it will be tough to draw any definite conclusions from this particular final, ones that will be able to settle the age old question of whom is the superior tennis player.

For Rodger Federer, his speech at the end of the tournament after accepting the trophy said it all for me, he had the excitement in his voice that only beating Nadal could produce and the sense that making it to the top of the rankings might just be a realistic prospect by the end of the opening grand slam of the 2011 season. As for his form in the match, Federer was his efficient self with over 10 winners in the middle of the first set by the time Nadal managed to finally post his first. He came out of the gates all guns blazing on the Nadal service return, which was refreshing to see after previous performances of a more passive nature with respect to the service return aspect of his approach had led him to lament missed chances to turn things around during earlier losses to the Spaniard. His serve, seems to be going through the same evolution that Pete Sampras experienced towards the peak and latter half of his career in that both players seemed to be able to summon an ace at will during their peak but that weapon in the arsenal seems to be confined to being called on to to extract oneself from the trickiest of positions during the match, largely owing to their own fault. With the lack of first serve accuracy that Federer managed during the final, there can be little doubt what his training regiment will be focusing on come monday morning, but what was most refreshing for the entire Federer nation was the resurgence of his single handed backhand against the Nadal forehand. This a constant battle that he had in the last few match ups against Nadal seemed to be losing quite comprehensively though he stubbornly stuck to it, a strategy that arguably cost him more than one Grand Slam Final against the Spaniard. This resurgence of form is no doubt a product of having a new coach and perhaps adding to it is the stability associated with his family life, beginning to yield dividends.  Either way, expect your average Rodger Federer fan to have that spring back in their step tomorrow morning at the office water cooler.

As for Nadal, only he will know best as to what prompted the slew of poorly played shots , the cost of which showed on his face, nothing less than the look of a man facing near impending doom after he had lost his first break in the third set. To be fair, in a best of three format even the shortest lapse of concentration can cost you vital points that decide these pro-ported epic encounters. However there are plenty of positives to be taken from his performance in London this weekend, into the 2011 season, aside from his conversion rate at the net, his first serve accuracy would even have had Goran Ivanišević sitting up his seat in anticipation of a fault that never really came. Had more of those first serves been aces, Rodger Federer would definitely not have had such a seemingly smooth night. Something that Andy Murray learnt first hand during his semi-final knock out.  One loss in a final at the last tournament of real significance at the end of the calendar though, can take nothing away from his achievements this year which was one short of a Grand Slam sweep and although he might seem to have tripped towards the end, plenty of tennis fans know better than to count this loss as more than a blip on the radar.

When its all said and done, two things are for certain. Firstly, both of these athletes will be going into the 2011 season in an effort to further cement their legacies and are almost inevitably going to get in each others way in the process. Secondly, this rivalry is far from over. In fact in some ways, its only just begun all over again.

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