Five hours and 53 minutes! Never before did tennis seem to be such a cruel game. The 2012 Australian Open final had all the makings of an epic; it was a test of endurance for the players and viewers alike. But in the end, there was only one winner — tennis.
The image of Novak Djokovic ripping off his shirt at the end of it all is etched in our memories. But all that I can remember is the picture of a downcast, disconsolate Rafael Nadal, walking out of the Melbourne Park with a sense of gloom and despair hanging over his head.
Circa 2013! It’s time to hit the courts again. The Australian Open is down the corner, in its full element as always, but with one change: There will be no Rafa. All thanks to some nondescript stomach bug, and a recurring knee injury. So, what difference does it make? Well, loads. The sight of Rafa adjusting his hair between points, running like a raging bull to attempt every shot, hitting those baseline shots as if there were no tomorrow, the sheer brute force and energy that he brings with his game will be dearly missed.
Rafa has given us enough and more moments to cherish, the 2009 edition being the perfect example. Beating Fernando Verdasco in what was the second longest match in Australian Open history and then making the great Roger Federer cry in the final! The list goes on and on…
The world and I wait with bated breath for a glimpse of the Spaniard. A certain Lukas Rosol shattered the dreams of a million Rafaholics by leaving a bitter memory of Nadal. Yes, I am referring to that night on June 28, 2012. I was sitting in a theatre checking my tweets every now and then to see how Rafa was faring. Things weren’t going his way and I had a bad feeling about it. I hoped my instincts were wrong for once but, as fate would have it, they were bang on.
It was 3 am, and I was sitting on the floor in my house, shocked. Rosol had done the unthinkable by beating Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon. And he hasn’t played a match ever since. The wait for Rafa’s comeback continues. The sooner, the better.
But the clock ticks on. And till then, it’s time for the Murrays, Federers and Djokovics to make the most of Nadal’s absence. Over to Melbourne Park!