Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by Sebastian Fest


And so the curtain will finally fall on the “Fedal” era this evening.  Hopefully we’ll continue to see Rafa playing for a while yet, but Roger’s retiring and that means that, after tonight, the “Fedal” era will officially be over.  Yes, all right, Djokovic has dominated much of the past decade, but the Roger-Rafa rivalry is special, and the fact that Roger wanted his last match to be played alongside Rafa says it all.

I love Rafa, everyone knows that, but Roger is very special too, and there’s just something about the rivalry between them.  Friendship, respect, and the way in which they’ve brought the best out of each other.  I think 2008, 2009 and 2010 saw the peak of it, notably the 2008 Wimbledon final and the 2009 Australian Open final, but it’s something that’s lasted for over seventeen years.

Is it the greatest rivalry in the history of sport?  It may be.  It may not be: there are many others, notably that between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.  OK, let’s not get too into the “greatest rivalry” debate, because that leads to the GOAT debate and I’m a bit sick of the GOAT debate.  Let’s appreciate each player for everything they’ve given us, and not drive ourselves mad comparing very different players with each other, or with players from different eras.   Let’s just appreciate them.  Because they’ve given us so much.  It’s been an incredible ride, and I wish Roger all the best in his retirement.

What about the book, then?   This is supposed to be a book review, after all!   Well, it’s very readable for tennis fans.  It’s not chronological: it’s by topic.  Injuries.  Coaches.  Various other things.  That makes it rather bitty, and also means that most chapters are about either Roger or Rafa, not both.  Some of the chapters are really rather odd: there’s one about each player’s relationship with the author’s home country of Argentina, which I’d hardly have said was a huge factor in their careers.  If you follow tennis closely, you’ll probably already know pretty much everything that it has to say, but it’s an enjoyable read, apart from a few slight hiccups in translation.  I should imagine that we’ll see quite a few books coming out to mark Roger’s retirement, and also to mark Serena’s retirement.

Two great eras have ended at once, the Serena era and the Roger era – and, yes, obviously there has been a Roger era, and there still is a Rafa era, as well as there being a Fedal era.   They’re not a double act.  They’re two individual greats – but each of them has been even greater than they might have been otherwise because of the presence of each other.   What a rivalry it’s been, and what an era it’s been.  And now it’s over, and Carlitos, Casper, Daniil, Felix, Frances, Sascha, Matteo, Taylor, Stef, Denis and various others will pick up the baton as time moves on; but I’m not sure that we’ll ever see anything else like the Fedal era.  Roger, Rafa, thank you so much, for everything you’ve given the world of tennis and the world in general.  Oh, and this book’s only £1.99 on Kindle, so read it, wallow in nostalgia, and enjoy.