"God, it's killing me."
Those were the words of a tearful Roger Federer the last time he met Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. Federer had just lost a five-set thriller in the 2009 final, his second-consecutive loss to Nadal in a Grand Slam and his fifth straight overall. The tears were borne out of disappointment but sustained by fear. At 27, was tennis passing Roger Federer by?
Three years later, the two meet again on Rod Laver Arena in a blockbuster Australian Open semifinal. Both Federer and Nadal have fallen from their perches atop the game, but their rivalry is as strong as ever.
Just over the past 18 months Busted Racquet has looked at the rival's first public feud (and subsequent make-up), their amazing winners, how Novak Djokovic had passed them both, their giggly commercial shoot, whether they would have been classmates with Harry Potter, when they shared the spotlight wearing neon jerseys, Rafa's French Open win, Roger's World Tour Finals triumph, their first true semifinal match since 2005, that time Federer whiffed on match point and shared 18 of their best photographs.
In other words, there are no other words. They've all been said. New chapters in a rivalry like this only get written on the court. Another one begins Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET.
Roger. Rafa. Grand Slam semifinals. It doesn't get much better than this.
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