The Paris Review

The End of the Tour: Tennis Stars in Twilight

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Photo: Christopher Clarey

There are stories. And then there are “story-stories.” The twin reemergence of Roger Federer and Rafael “Rafa” Nadal this year has been one of those story-stories, full of wait-that’s-not-alls and tell-me-what-happened-nexts. Their return to form has been as emphatic as it was unexpected, a jolt of sun in a strange year.

When the two faced off in the final of the Australian Open way back in January—which Federer won in a tense five sets (6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3)—there was the sense that the stars had simply happened to

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