Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
If you missed the Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco semifinal in the Australian Open, you missed one of the greatest matches in the history of tennis. Try to catch the replay (or at least the end of it) later today on ESPN.
I watched pretty much from start to finish, beginning at 3:30 a.m. and finishing up shortly after 9 a.m. Nadal finally won the five-set epic when his fellow left-handed Spaniard double-faulted on the third match point at 4-5 of the fifth set.
Nadal prevailed 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4 in 5 hours, 14 minutes. It was the longest match in the history of the Australian Open, where this year matches have taken place in 140-plus degree heat.
“I know he arrive to this match playing very, very well, beating [Andy] Murray and [Joe-Willie] Tsonga and [Radek] Stepanek, too,” Nadal told ESPN. “These wins are very difficult. All of them are playing very well. I expect a match very tough. I think I didn’t play bad but it was very tough to play with one player like Fernando.
“He played all the time crazy with the forehand. He served unbelievable, so it was very tough.”
Next up: the match everyone’s been waiting for.
No. 1 Nadal against No. 2 Roger Federer in the championship Sunday morning at 3:30 our time. Nadal holds a 12-6 career edge on the Swiss, but this is their first Australian Open meeting.
“For sure it’s going to be a little bit tough,” Nadal said. “Roger is going to have a little bit more advantage than me. He is resting right now and for sure he had two days now and one match of only three sets. At the moment, he is for sure the favorite but I’m going to try my best to recover and play my best on Sunday.”
Federer crushed American Andy Roddick in straight sets in 2 hours, 7 minutes in the other semifinal on Wednesday and then kicked back and watched the two Spaniards spill their blood and guts all over Rod Laver Arena.
Federer is seeking his record-tying 14th Grand Slam title, while Nadal is looking for his sixth. Nadal beat Federer last year in both the French and Wimbledon finals. They could have met again in the U.S. Open final last September in New York, but Murray dispatched Nadal in the semis.
So much is on the line. If Federer wins, he ties Pete Sampras at 14 majors and needs just one more to get to 15 and set the all-time mark.
If Nadal wins, he owns three-quarters of the career Grand Slam and needs only the U.S. Open title to complete the set.
I can’t wait for another late night….
Here are my Top 4 greatest tennis matches, in no particular order:
–Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final 2008
–John McEnroe-Bjorn Born Wimbledon final 1980
–McEnroe-Mats Wilander Davis Cup match 1982
–Nadal-Verdasco Australian Open semi 2009
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.