By Leighton Ginn
During the first week of the Australian Open when No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost, I had asked in my blog if this was the end of the golden age of men’s tennis.
The day after I wrote it, No. 1 Andy Murray also lost.
In the blog, I thought it was unlikely Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could reach the finals.
Well, the wheels came off with that analysis.
Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th career Grand Slam singles crown, beating his long-time rival in a thrilling five setter that will be talked about for years.
In my defense, Federer had been gone for six months with a knee injury that was actually suffered at last year’s Australian Open. I never ruled out Federer from winning a major title because of his age, 35. But the age with the injury, and this being essentially his first tournament back, a sixth title in Oz was a lot to ask for.
Nadal has either been struggling with injuries or confidence. And the confidence is a result of all the injuries that have robbed him of his consistency. He kept plugging away, but there hadn’t been a sign encouraging enough to think he could get back to his dominant days.
And then everything changed.
Everyone has been talking about Federer’s age for a long time, but there’s no real evidence his game has slipped due to Father Time. Before the injury last year, a freak accident when he was giving his kids a bath, he was ranked No. 2 in the world.
In 2014-15, Federer reached three major finals, and if it wasn’t for Djokovic, he might have been over 20 major titles.
Now that he appears to be healthy, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t win another major, especially at Wimbledon.
As for Nadal, he is back in the mix. Can he win another major? The French Open is the major he’s owned, but it’s such a long and grueling tournament, and Nadal has a lot of wear and tear on his body.
I don’t rule him out, but I need to see more to determine if he can win the French.
Now if Murray and Djokovic can bounce back, then the good times will continue to roll.