Living Legends in the Dream Matchup - Federer vs Nadal

by Nila Amerova

Melbourne, Australia
- We have arrived at the stage of the tournament we were bound to from the start - the finale; that it is to be such a pivotal moment not only for the tournament but also for the history of the sport, even the most arduous optimist could not have predicted. But after the historic semi-final yesterday - an epic five set thriller that lasted five hours and fourteen minutes (the best match in the history of the Australian Open eclipsing the 2005 Federer -Safin semi-final) - between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, we knew. Knew the inexorable truth. Knew that we were destined to witness another instalment of the greatest rivalry in tennis (of all sport actually) - one of legend vs. legend. And, knew it had to be this way.

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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the greatest warriors the sport has ever seen intertwined in a ballet of superiority and after the last compelling duel they conjured on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club they are about to conclude the Australian Open in another battle of attrition, a breathtaking coup for one or the other. For Federer, a victory in Melbourne will mark his 14th Grand Slam title and earn him entrance into elitist company - alongside the great Pete Sampras. But if Federer were going to lose the crown, it has to be fitting that it will be to Nadal. For Nadal, a victory would mark his first-ever hard-court Grand Slam title. But if Nadal were going to lose the crown, it has to be fitting that it will be to Federer.

I am a long time tennis fan and I have seen many memorable matches - but nothing even comes close to the matches played between these two cornerstone players. I just hope that after last night's semi-final extravaganza at Rod Laver Arena - wherein Nadal left everything out on the court (as did Verdasco)he has enough left to bring against Federer in this the most pivotal match of the tournament.

Tennis Betting Line:

Rafael Nadal +2 1/2 -120 +135 40 1/2 O -125 U -115

Roger Federer -2 1/2 -120 -175 40 1/2 O -125 U -115

Match Time: 03:30 A.M. Eastern Time Sunday 1 February, 2009

Tennis Betting Prediction: Discussing Nadal and Federer individually is not needed. They have earned many accolades and then some and we all know them. Discussing their value on the tennis betting line is also not necessary. They are both a value bet. When did they ever step out on to a court and not give it their all? When did they ever not play to win? When did they ever not play brilliantly against one another? When did they ever not fight to the bitter end? NEVER.

So what this match comes down to is who will be the better play on that day. On that Sunday. Before the semis, if a Nadal-Federer final emerged, pundits gave almost a 50-50 chance of the match going either way. After last night's classic semi against Verdasco though, one has to give a slight edge to Federer in terms of rest. Nadal left a piece of himself on that court last night and even his most diehard fans are struggling to keep hope alive for the final. NOBODY can recover from that kind of a match that featured so many momentum shifts and plot twists and turns to make even Sherlock Holmes proud. Or can they? IF there ever were a player I would bet money on to do so it would be Nadal. Against all odds, he has made the impossible possible and the result that much more wonderful before. We have savoured Wimbledon and while that match has been tucked away in the annals of history as the best ever, we are hungry for another delight. Let it be Melbourne. Oh say it is to be so. I would wager most of you will take Federer for the win and perhaps that is the smart play. He has the edge on this surface and the added edge with rest. The intangible is Nadal's superhuman belief. If there is any of it left for Federer then the long touted mentally toughest player has a punters chance (as outside as it may be) to seize the day. Call me eternally optimistic but there it is. (I stand by my pick).

Tennis Free Picks: Nadal in five sets

Nila Amerova is a freelance sports writer and regular contributor to the Bovada Locker Room


by Nila Amerova at on January 30, 2009

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