The Atlantic

The Australian Open Turned Back the Clock

The 2017 singles finals in Melbourne saw the unlikely return of iconic rivalries, for what may well be the last time.
Source: David Gray / Reuters

There is an age-old archetype in sports of the decorated legend who, with nothing left to prove, throws in the towel to rapturous applause. They’ve served the game for a decade or even two, created sparkling moments that will live in the memories of those who’ve witnessed them, in person or on television, as adults or kids. Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Ryan Giggs, Michael Phelps, and Peyton Manning are among the greats who’ve recently walked out of the game and into the history books. All were legends who retired and made way for younger, fresher blood, and who recognized the sport could and would evolve without them.

So when the 35-year-old Roger Federer threw his hands up and leapt in celebration after beating his longtime nemesis Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a thrilling final of the Australian Open Sunday morning, the expression on his face seemed to suggest that he had just cheated history. It was a tearful smile of disbelief and awe, a rare look for a man who has played

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min read
The Man Who Could Beat Justin Trudeau
Andrew Scheer wants to be Canada’s next prime minister. If he succeeds, he could redefine the future of Western conservative politics.
The Atlantic6 min read
There Is No Plan B for ISIS Prisoners
As Turkey stokes chaos in northern Syria, the U.S. has no new options to deal with the ISIS prisoners held there—or what to do if they escape.
The Atlantic5 min read
A Hidden World of Strange Starfish-Like Creatures in the Abyss
It has only now come to light, and could be destroyed if deep-sea mining is allowed to go ahead.