Win or lose, no one pushes the other top players to new heights like Nadal does, which is why he’s been involved in a disproportionately large share of great matches over the last … well, eternity. Wimbledon ‘07, Wimbledon ‘08, Australia ‘09, Australia ‘12; that’s just scratching the surface. Federer’s the greatest player ever, but I’m increasingly convinced that Nadal is the key to the greatness of this whole era.
So is there any chance we’re going to get him back? Any chance he gets his knee’s busted insides rebuilt, for a couple of years at least, and comes screaming onto the court in the middle of the same old whirlwind? All I want from tennis in 2013 is for a healthy Nadal to launch a sustained assault on absolutely everyone else. Federer, Obama, you name it. I don’t even care if he wins or loses, I just want him back and throwing javelins. It seems unlikely at this point, but consider that — having barely stood on a court in months — he’s still the oddsmakers’ favorite to win at Roland Garros, where he is 52-1 since his debut at the age of 18. Say he comes back and wins an eighth title there this year. Say he’s still as relentless as a hellhound and hellhoundishly starved for more majors. You wouldn’t be giddy about Wimbledon after that? Doesn’t the whole ATP Tour suddenly look twice as compelling?By
Brian Phillips, written just after the Australian Open 2013.
When this was written it was an outlandish, stupidly optimistic crystal ball prediction. And the most magical thing of all, is that it has actually happened.