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Nadal keeps big three flame burning

Posted onPosted on 17th Feb
Nadal keeps big three flame burning

With no Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open being one of Rafa Nadal’s worst majors, it appeared maybe tennis would see a changing of the guard in its first major to start 2022. But Nadal, at age 35, bested the field to win at the event for the first time since 2009. It was only the second time Nadal had won the event as the Spaniard had lost his previous four appearances in the finals. Nadal rallied from being down two sets to score the victory.

As you would notice with NFL stats, the top three tennis stars have dominated the men’s game for nearly 20 years. As time goes by, age seems to become less of a factor for athletes. Here’s a look at tennis players that didn’t let turning 30 slow down their accomplishments. 


“Muscles” nearly wins at 40

Australian Ken Rosewall earned the ironic nickname “muscles” because of his lack of them. However, just because he didn’t look like Mr. Universe didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous on the tennis court. Rosewall finished his career with eight major victories and only needed a victory at Wimbledon to complete a career Grand Slam. The last of his victories came in the 1972 Australian Open at the age of 37 years, two months and one day.

Rosewall, who also holds the mark for oldest player to win a singles championship at the US Open by winning in 1970 at the age of 35 and 10 months, beat fellow Australian Malcolm Anderson 7-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win the 1972 Australian Open.

Rosewall would appear in two more major finals after this, losing to up-and-comer Jimmy Connors in straight sets of the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 1974.


Federer wins his last?

With Roger Federer now at 40 years old, it seems unlikely he’ll add on to his total of 20 grand slam championships. However, Federer was nearly able to equal Rosewall by winning the 2018 Australian Open. By defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, Federer won at 36 years and 173 days old. 

Federer would also go on to reach the 2019 Wimbledon finals, an event he had won eight times during his career. However, Novak Djokovic would outlast Federer in a marathon final that went deep into a fifth-set tiebreak before a winner was decided.


Serena still chasing Margaret

American Serena Williams, now 40, is still in search of a 24th major to tie Margaret Court’s records. Williams’ career has been stacked up with achievements and she has made the second-most Grand Slam finals, with 33 appearances. Her last victory came at a record 35 years 124 days, when she captured the 2017 Australian Open title. Serena’s victory came at the expense of her sister Venus, who she defeated 6-4, 6-4.

Since that victory, Serena Williams has had four opportunities to tie Court’s record, but lost in four straight finals. Williams, who has lost six of her past eight finals appearances overall, is still hoping to have one more run in her to tie the record.


Aging Sampras beats aging rival to close career

Before the rise of the Big Three, American Pete Sampras would wrap up his career as the record holder for most career majors with 14. Sampras’ last victory would be one of the biggest surprises of his career. The 31-year-old Sampras was seeded 17th and made a surprising run to the finals of the 2002 US Open, where he would meet up with fellow 32-year-old veteran Andre Agassi in the finals.

Sampras would go on to defeat Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to close his career on a strong note. While he didn’t announce it at the time, Sampras decided it would be the last professional match of his career.

Agassi wouldn’t go gently into the night either. At 33, Agassi entered the 2003 Australian Open as the No. 2 seed and would go on to win his eighth major of his career. Agassi would glide into the finals where he would meet up with 31st-seed Reiner Shuttler. Shuttler was no match for the savvy veteran and Agassi won in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.