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 Atlantic5 min read
The Watch That Went to the Moon
Fifty years ago, Buzz Aldrin wore his Omega Speedmaster Professional on the lunar surface. It’s been an icon—and a bestseller—ever since.
The Atlantic6 min read
Can’t Impeach Trump? Go After His Cabinet.
On July 21 and 22, 1864, Confederate soldiers under John Bell Hood went on the offensive in an attempt to blunt William T. Sherman’s advance toward Atlanta. Union artillery forces dug in behind fortifications at a place called Leggett’s Hill, east of
The Atlantic5 min read
Emmy Nominations 2019: HBO Ascendant
Game of Thrones dominated a surprisingly open-minded slate of nods that recognized critical favorites.