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Roger Federer, normally the epitome of composure, jumped high in the air. He pumped his arms. He let out a scream.
Even for someone with as many titles as Federer, winning the Australian Open on Sunday wasn’t just a routine victory. It was special for several reasons.
- The victory came in Federer’s first tournament in six months. He hadn’t played since Wimbledon because he was recovering from injuries.
- The championship comes 4½ years after his last grand slam title. Many believed Federer, 35, would not win another major championship.
- The victory came against Rafael Nadal, Federer’s chief rival.
- Federer rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the fifth set to post the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory.
- Federer played three five-set matches in order to win this championship.
The championship was Federer’s 18th grand slam title, the most in history. Nadal is tied for second with Pete Sampras with 14. Federer has won Wimbledon seven times, the U.S. and Australian Opens five times apiece, and the French Open once. The seven years between Australian Open titles is the longest gap between wins at a major tournament during tennis’ open era.
Although Federer was ecstatic after Sunday’s victory, he returned to being composed and gracious during the post-match ceremony. Acknowledging how hard Nadal has worked to recover from his own injuries, Federer said that if there were draws in tennis, he “would have been happy to share (the title) with Rafa.”
Nadal was equally gracious. “Today, I think, was a great match,” Nadal said. “Probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me.”
Federer returned the compliment by offering encouragement to Nadal about his comeback. “Keep playing, Rafa, please,” Federer said. “Tennis needs you.”
Tennis – and sports – needs players like Federer as well. But we should cherish the opportunity to watch Federer play because, despite Sunday’s title, his career is winding down.
“I hope to see you all next year,” Federer said to the crowd in Rod Laver Arena. “And, if not, this was a wonderful run.”
The little slip by Federer could indicate that he is considering retiring in the not-so-distant future. That’s yet another reason to take advantage of every opportunity to watch the remarkable Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player in history.
SERENA ‘SLAMS’ VENUS: One night before Roger Federer solidified his claim to being the best male tennis player in history, Venus Williams solidified her claim to being the best women’s tennis player in history with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over her sister, Venus, in the Australian Open final.
The victory is the 23rd grand slam singles title of Serena’s career, moving her one title ahead of Steffi Graf.
REPORT: LURIE STEPS IN: There was an interesting story by Jeff McLane of The Inquirer a few days about Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. The story, which McLane said was confirmed by four independent sources, is that Lurie refused to allow quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo interview with the Jets to be their offensive coordinator.
According to McLane, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson told DeFilippo when the hired him that they wouldn’t stand in his way if he had an opportunity to become an offensive coordinator. Furthermore, according to McLane, Roseman and Pederson upheld their word and granted permission for DeFilippo to interview with the Jets, only to have Lurie overrule them.
This story is interesting for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that Lurie is taking a more active role in running the franchise. It also demonstrates the importance Lurie attaches to anything related to the development of quarterback Carson Wentz. The third reason this story is interesting is that, although DeFilippo’s only public comment was about how thrilled he is to be returning to the Eagles, it’s logical to assume that there is some discontent over not being able to pursue a job he was promised he could pursue.
SUPER STUPOR: There doesn’t appear to be the usual level of enthusiasm before this year’s Super Bowl. Maybe it’s because the Falcons don’t have much of a national profile. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have the Peyton Manning passion play. Hopefully, the excitement level will pick up as we get closer to the big game next Sunday.
STAR POWER: I’m happy for all of the players selected for their league’s all-star games. But that doesn’t mean that I have to watch. The NHL All-Star Game and Pro Bowl are two games I’m not watching today (Sunday).
MISSING FOR THE CYCLE: Due to a failure to find enough corporate sponsorship money, the Philadelphia International Cycling Class has been cancelled for this year. The race, which made its debut in 1985, was also canceled in 2013 before renewed effort to find corporate sponsorship salvaged the race. There does not appear to be the same likelihood of a reprieve this year.
You don’t have to be a cycling fan to bemoan the cancellation of the cycling classic. With its signature run up the Manayunk Wall and its path through Lemon Hill and down Kelly Drive, the Cycling Classic was a quintessential Philadelphia event. Let’s hope the event returns in 2018.
ALREADY FEELING A DRAFT: In light of all of the discussion sparked by the Senior Bowl, all I can say is “only three more months until the NFL Draft.”
In case you hadn’t heard, the draft is in Philadelphia this year.
WING NUTS: The 25th Annual Wing Bowl will take place Friday at Wells Fargo Center. The celebrity guests for this year’s Wing Bowl include rapper Coolio and professional wrestling legend Ric Flair. The event is sold out.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, has traveled up the Manayunk Wall numerous times – in a car.