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SLAM QUEEN

LONG, SLOW GOODBYE MAJOR REVIVALS

Video View:

OZ BUZZ

ROGER TOPS RAFA

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CONTENTS DON’T THINK WE’RE “IGOING FOR THE GREATEST STORY IN SPORTS. WE’RE JUST GOING FOR SOME DREAMS. IN THE CASE THAT WE ARE, WHAT AN HONOR, WHAT AN HONOR.

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OPENING SHOTS

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By Mark Peterson

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VIDEO VIEW: OZ BUZZ Tennis Now TV

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SLAM QUEEN

By Richard Pagliaro

- Venus Williams

TWITTER TRIBUTES TO SERENA By Chris Oddo

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RENAISSANCE MAN: ROGER TOPS RAFA

By Richard Pagliaro

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TWITTER CELEBRATES FEDERER By Chris Oddo


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BE FREE IN YOUR HEAD, BE FREE IN YOUR SHOTS, GO FOR IT. THE BRAVE WILL BE REWARDED HERE. — Roger Federer

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TROPHY SHOTS

By Mark Peterson

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FANS

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THE LONG, SLOW GOODBYE

By Mark Peterson

By Chris Oddo

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CLOSING SHOTS By Mark Peterson

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WRITER

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Chris Oddo

PHOTOGRAPHY

A spirited Australian Open provided major Several young players revealed themselves as future champions revival and grand reveal. A pair of revitalized 35-year-old Grand Masters-Roger Federer and Serena Williams-solidified their status as iconic champions with milestone victories.

Grigor Dimitrov was gallant and gritty pushing Nadal to five sets in a four hour, 56-minute thriller before bowing in a pulsating semifinal. Three years after contesting the Wimbledon semifinals, Dimitrov is playing points with a purpose. The result is all-court brilliance and a 10-1 start to the season.

Serena defeated sister Venus capturing her Open Era-record 23rd major title and regaining the world No. 1 ranking, while Federer fought past rival Rafael Nadal collecting his 18th Grand Slam crown and Alexander Zverev showed all the skills lengthening his lead in the all-time major to be a future major champion fighting Nadal for five sets before his body gave race. out. A 36-year-old Venus and 30-yearCoCo Vandeweghe channeled her old Rafa returned to major finals and departed the Melbourne stage with grace explosive power and eruptive disposition into the most assertive tennis of her life. and good-will in their classy post-final Vandeweghe blew world No. 1 defending speeches. champion Angelique Kerber away before Eighteen years after her last major absolutely annihilating reigning Roland semifinal at Wimbledon, a 34-year-old Garros champion Garbine Mugurza en Mirjana Lucic-Baroni donned rosary route to her first major semifinal. beads before serving out a stunning Tennis is a lifetime sport and this Oz quarterfinal upset of Karolina Pliskova Open was a life-affirming spectacle. then dropped to her knees weeping in joy-and moving many in the Melbourne Celebrating their legacies with spirited crowd to tears. performances, legendary champions Serena and Roger made this Australian A 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic cracked an Open an eternal major. AO-record 75 aces in an epic fight back from two sets down rallying past Horacio Zeballos. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova reunited reigning as Richard Pagliaro doubles champs for the second time EDITOR in three years and gave Oz a joyous Tennis Now Magazine victory dance that could have been

Mark Peterson

DESIGN Billy McGrath Natalie Valenkova Shirin Abdollahi

CONTACT US To advertise with us: ads@tennisnow.com General comments or questions: media@tennisnow.com

Tennis Now 1 Baker Street, Suite #612 Mount Kisco, NY 10549 914.595.4211

choreographed by the Oompa-Loompas.

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Tennis Now photographer Mark Peterson, a Melbourne native, captures the magic and majesty of an Australian Open for the ages.

By Mark Peterson

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Camila

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5 REASONS ROGER FEDERER IS THE GOAT OF MEN’S TENNIS

SERENA TOPS VENUS FOR OPEN RECORD 23RD GRAND SLAM TITLE

VIDEO VIEW OZ BUZZ

Tennis Now TV honors the AO champions, revisits the upsets and endorses Roger Federer in the Great Debate. click on videos to watch

ROGER BEATS RAFA FOR 18TH GRAND SLAM TITLE

5 BIGGEST BIG FOUR UPSETS AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

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Slam Queen:

Serena Wins Record 23rd Slam Title

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Serena Williams won an emotional reunion with sister Venus to reach a major milestone and regain the world No. 1 ranking. By Richard Pagliaro Holding history in her hand, Serena Williams paused for a moment before serving championship point. Glancing across the net at older sister Venus Williams, Serena soaked up the beauty of a continuing a life-long rally with her best friend on this major stage. Then she fixed her focus back on the ball completing a career milestone. Nineteen years after the Williams sisters squared off in their first professional meeting in Melbourne, the most successful sister act in sport staged another family reunion in the Australian Open final. Commanding the center of the court, Serena hit her way into history defeating Venus, 6-4, 6-4, to claim her seventh Australian Open title and Open Era-record 23rd Grand Slam championship, breaking the mark she shared with Steffi Graf.

I really wanted it,” Serena told ESPN’s Chris Evert afterward. “I really wanted to get to 23 so bad, more than you can ever imagine. I can’t believe it. I had no idea I’d be number one either. I literally had no idea. 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN REVIEW

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The 35-year-old Serena retained sisterly superiority beating 36-year-old Venus for the seventh time in nine Grand Slam final meetings. The world No. 2 will regain world supremacy surpassing Angelique Kerber for the world No. 1 ranking.

Serena’s name will be etched on the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup awarded to the champion.

The extended embrace the sisters shared afterward reminded Venus’ role inspiring Serena’s journey to history. Serena beat her sister to seize the Open Era mark and made it clear they crossed the line together.

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I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person,” Serena said during the trophy presentation. “There’s no way I would be at 23 without her, no way I would be at one without her. She’s my inspiration, the only reason I’m standing here today, the only reason the Williams sisters exist. So thank you for inspiring me to work hard every time you won this week I felt I won too.


The reigning Wimbledon champion did not drop a set defeating four former or current Top 10 players—Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova, Johanna Konta and Venus—en route to her 72nd career singles championship. Serena has won six of the last 10 Grand Slams she’s contested. The serve and return were key components in her eighth win over Venus in their last nine meetings. Serena served 10 aces and permitted just seven points on serve in the second set. Prowling inside the baseline to pounce on her housemate’s second serve, Serena won 15 of 21 points played on Venus’ second serve, converting 4 of 11 break-point chances.

This was a lot different because there was so much riding on this on both our ends,” Serena said. “Venus was trying to get to her eighth Grand Slam. Me, obviously, trying to get to 23. But also, we’re both thirty-fun so it’s a big moment for us. “Venus has been playing really, really, really well and I just had to put all that in the back of my head and I was like I just want to win this match. Fourteen years after their last Australian Open final face-off that concluded with Serena seizing her first Serena Slam, the sisters reunited at net for the coin toss for their ninth meeting in a major final. Beneath a colorful visor, Venus wore a sunny smile, while a more serious Serena seemed to purposefully avoid making direct eye contact with her old sister. Opening jitters were evident early as they traded four breaks to start the final. Second-seeded Serena correctly anticipated a Venus approach and ripped a forehand pass to break in the opener. Venus answered with an immediate break back. 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN REVIEW

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I’m enormously proud of you, you mean the world to me… God willing, I would love to come back. Thank you for all the love.

Frustrated by a slip, Serena cracked her Wilson racquet to the court in the third game before settling in for her second straight break. Smashing the racquet seemed to loosen Serena’s swing. Audible gasps from the crowd at the pace of some shots the sisters traded prompted chair umpire Alison Hughes to ask for quiet while the ball was in play. Exploiting a tense two double fault game from her sister enabled Venus to break back before stamping the first hold at 30 for 3-2. Settling in on return and moving her feet faster helped the six-time champion shake the nerves. Serena slashed backhand return down the line, followed it forward and spun a slick backhand drop volley winner, Federer-style, for break point. Bolting a backhand return winner down the opposite sideline, Serena scored her third break for 4-3 sending fiancé Alexis Ohanian out of his seat in celebration. That break settled Serena as she belted a backhand down the line snatching her third straight game.

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Sliding her seventh ace down the middle, Serena sealed the 41-minute opener at love. She was one set from history and a historic Grand Slam closer: the younger Williams was 20-0 when winning the opening set in Grand Slam finals. Both sisters ravaged second-serve returns throughout the first set. Venus won 10 of 14 points played on Serena’s second serve, while Serena won eight of nine points played on big sister’s second serve in the opener. Defending her serve with vigor in the semifinals, Venus denied 12 of 13 break points rallying past CoCo Vandeweghe. Serena is quicker off the mark and a more accurate returner than CoCo and quickly jumped out to a triple break point lead in the third game of set two. Seeing older sister wobble, crowd encouragement spiked. Venus’ serve sharpened and she fought off all three break points finishing with a flying forehand down the line for 2-1. Elevating into serve, Venus slid an ace out wide, holding at 15 for 3-2—the eighth straight hold in a match that began with four consecutive breaks.


Midway through the set, Serena began tuning into the groove on her groundstrokes, driving the ball down the line off both wings. Ripping menacing returns, Serena tightened the screws in the seventh game. A backhand down the line drew an error for a third break point. Jumping all over a second serve, Serena crushed a vicious backhand return breaking for 4-3. That break brought a sense of finality as the second seed powered through a love hold— her seventh straight hold—for 5-3.

Big sister wasn’t about to go quietly.

In an electric rally that popped with pace and angle, Venus drew an error and Serena paused to gulp some deep breaths down 15-30 as she served for the championship. Serena’s skill changing direction down the line was a key to the match. She crunched a backhand down the line for 30-all. A netted error brought Serena to championship point as she exhorted herself to “fight, fight.” Racing up quickly to a short ball, Serena lifted a forehand down the line dropping to the court in celebration and rising with a record after 81 minutes of play and a lifetime rally with her sister, opponent and biggest fan.

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I can’t even describe it, really,” Serena said. “Words can’t describe how happy I am for this moment, especially here in Melbourne. We started here. This is my first Grand Slam. To get to number 23 here is really rather special. “Against Venus as well where my first Grand Slam match was against her right on this stadium court. So it was weird. I just feel like it’s all come full circle.

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TWEET TREATS:

TWITTER PAYS TRIBUTE TO SERENA

By Chris Oddo

The tennis world celebrated Serena Williams’ latest remarkable achievement sharing the love for the Williams sisters rematch— and Serena’s 23rd Grand Slam title—on Twitter. Boris Becker crowns Queen Serena GOAT.

Angelique Kerber’s classy congratulations.

Serena’s good friend and fellow former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was moved by what she saw.

US Open champion Flavia Pennetta was watching—and appreciating what she saw!

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Props from Dr. Ivo—from one great server to another.


Judy Murray’s tribute, as usual, is clever and uplifting.

While father Richard Williams did not make the trip Down Under, Chris Evert gave praise to one of the greatest tennis fathers and coaches of all time.

Check out these sweet celebratory kicks from Nike.

Vika Azarenka’s always watching and respecting.

Sabine Lisicki showed enthusiastic praise for both sisters.

The hug heard ‘round the world.

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Renaissance Man Roger Tops Rafa For 18th Grand Slam Crown

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A revitalized Roger Federer won five straight games to subdue rival Rafael Nadal in a five-set classic a stirring climax to an Australian Open for the ages. By Richard Pagliaro

The dream final escalated into a dramatic fifth-set duel. Contesting his 100th career Australian Open match, Roger Federer was in no mood for moral victories.

The 35-year-old Federer delivered a fiery comeback to capture his 18th career Grand Slam championship and solidify his status as the Greatest Of All Time. In a rematch of iconic rivals that matched the massive hype, Federer fought back from 1-3 down in the decider digging down to reel off five straight games for a rousing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 triumph over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. It is Federer’s fifth Australian Open championship and his first Grand Slam title since he won the 2012 Wimbledon crown. It caps a stirring climax to the most remarkable run of his career. Playing his first tournament following a six-month sabbatical from the sport to rehab his surgically-repaired left knee, Federer soared in a fearless five-game comeback to realize a major dream.

This one stands alone,” Federer said. “It’s so different from all the others. “To have the moment when you wait for something for a long time it feels that much better plus it was against Rafa. It was after the comeback from six months of not playing. I also thought for a second it’s probably not going to happen tonight. I worked very hard for it. I just told myself I had to really, really fight. In the end, it’s mental and that’s why I was able to turn it around in the fifth.

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Tennis is a tough sport,” said Federer, who beat Nadal for the third time in nine major finals. “There are no draws, but if there was a draw tonight I would have been happy to share it with Rafa. I wasn’t sure if I was ever gonna make it here, but here I am and we made it.” Playing his 18th consecutive Australian Open, Federer fought off three Top 10 opponents in five-set victories—Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Nadal—and a nagging leg injury with a brilliant triumph.

The 1-3 deficit, spiking issues with the right leg, fading accuracy from the baseline and a fierce rival who had won 23 of their 34 prior meetings all conspired to drain Federer. Straddling the baseline, he began ripping shots on the rise. Federer, who thumped his one-handed backhand with authority throughout, cracked 23 of his 73 winners in the deciding set.

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The Swiss master attained a milestone moment. Federer is the first man in history to win five or more titles at three different Grand Slams. Battling to the final ball, Nadal earned double break point in the final game. Federer denied both then slashed his 20th ace for a second championship point. Firing a forehand winner on the line, Federer waited as Nadal challenged the call leaving the championship hanging in the balance. When Hawk-Eye replay showed the ball pierced the sideline, an ecstatic Federer bounced up and down erupting in joy claiming his first Australian Open title since 2010. The 30-year-old Nadal, who may well have been drained by his punishing four hour, 56-minute victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals, was pure class in defeat.


I think it was a great match probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me,” said Nadal, who smiled off the pain giving a gracious speech to fans after a gut-wrenching loss. “I just gonna keep trying. I feel like I am back at a very high level. I am going to keep fighting the whole season to have a great season and keep coming back to try to win this trophy. Eight years after Nadal fended off Federer in the 2009 Australian Open final, the 17th-seeded Swiss avenged that defeat becoming the lowest-ranked man to capture the Melbourne title since 18th-ranked Swede Thomas Johansson toppled Marat Safin to take the title 15 years ago.

Federer’s 18th Grand Slam championship lengthens his lead to four majors ahead of Nadal, who was bidding for his 15th major and first since he ruled the 2014 Roland Garros. Contesting his first Melbourne final in seven years, Federer got off to a flying start in the record ninth Grand Slam final meeting between the rivals. 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN REVIEW

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Fighting off a wide serve with a sharp backhand return down the line, Federer swooped forward firing a forehand swing volley for double break point. When Nadal nudged a stretch backhand wide, Federer converted the first break point of the match for 4-3. Serving with new balls, Federer streamed through a 70-second hold sliding an ace down the middle to stamp his second straight love hold. Resetting with a bathroom break, Nadal returned recharged. Hammering his heavy lefty topspin forehand high to his rival’s one-handed backhand, Nadal carved out his first break in the second game. In a grinding eight-minute game, he denied a pair of break points extending the second-set lead to 3-0. Winless in five major finals outside of Paris when losing the opening set, Nadal played with the urgency of a man seeking retribution in the second while his opponent lost the range on his forehand. Mis-firing on his forehand, Federer fell into a triple break point hole then scattered a diagonal forehand wide as Nadal snatched a second break for a 4-0 lead 24 minutes into the second set. His white t-shirt was saturated with sweat, as if he’d been dipped in the nearby Yarra River, as Nadal branded his second straight love hold to level the match at a set apiece. 30

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Squandering a 40-love lead to open the third set, Federer stood up to the test driving three aces wide in nearly the same spot to fend off three break points. The 17th-seeded Swiss fought through a tight test with a four-ace game to hold. Straddling the baseline, Federer made a slick pick-up of a snazzy forehand off the short hop for break point. Moving a foot to his left in anticipation of the wide serve, Federer coaxed Nadal into a body serve down the middle and hammered a deep forehand return to earn the break. Slashing successive aces out wide, the four-time champion rolled through a love hold for 3-0. The 2009 champion fought off three break points knocking a forehand down the line to cap a hardfought hold in the fourth game. Striking his forehand with much more conviction than he had in the second set, Federer fired a running forehand winner stamping his second straight love hold for 4-1. Impeccable serving and an incisive backhand powered Federer through the third. Dancing in the doubles alley, he drilled a diagonal backhand return to break for 5-1. Federer fought off a pair of break points streaking forehand to caress a backhand drop volley for a two sets to one lead. Federer fired six aces and won 18 of 22 first-serve points in the third set.


The oldest major men’s finalist in 43 years hit a lull in the fourth game of the fourth set. Federer missed a routine forehand and Nadal pounced breaking at 15 for 3-1. One of the most electric exchanges of the match ended with Nadal stretching for a running squash shot forehand that kissed the top of the tape stretching his lead to 4-1. An empowered Nadal charged through the fourth set without facing a break point. The left-hander threw down a love hold forcing a fifth with a flurry of fist pumps as he walked to his chair. For the first time since their 2009 Australian Open final, Roger and Rafa would go the distance. Leaving the court for a medical time out, Federer, who also took treatment in his semifinal win over Wawrinka, confronted immediate danger in the final set. Dropping deep behind the baseline to start the decider, Nadal played lockdown defense squeezing out the opening break when his rival scattered a forehand. Serving with more precision, Nadal fended off three break points for a 2-0 lead he would extend to 3-1. Taking massage treatment on his right thigh after a love hold, Federer went back to work reaching love-30 in the sixth game. When Nadal sailed a forehand, Federer had his fifth break point of the set only to see the Spaniard save it with a forehand winner. A jolting backhand gave Federer a sixth break point and when Nadal narrowly missed an inside-out forehand the crowd erupted as Federer was back on serve 3-all.

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I think I started to play more clear again,” Federer said of his fifth-set fightback. “I told myself if you’re gonna win this match, it’s only by playing up in the court. And I felt he was doing the old body serve midway through the fourth set and the fifth as well and I struggled to fight it off really. Once I told myself just be offensive, take it early, take the speed, the court is gonna give you something – it’s what I told myself against Stan too – all you need is a couple good connections and then of course you need a bit of luck here and there as well. I think that’s what paid off for me in the end. I think I went to get victory and it paid off.

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A revitalized Federer rolled through a two-ace game for 4-3 then attacked to start the next game. A tight Nadal dumped a double fault into the middle of the net for triple break point. He fought off all three, including drawing a shanked backhand return to get back to deuce. An eye-popping rally that matched the longest of the match ended with Federer flicking a forehand winner down the line for a fourth break point. Nadal curled a serve winner to save it. Attacking again Federer earned a fifth break point. This time Nadal could not cope with the stress. He knocked a running forehand into net. Federer would serve for an 18th Grand Slam crown.

I was just trying to play the ball and not the opponent,” Federer said. “I just told myself I just really, really have to fight. When I talked to Severin and Ivan, my coaches, they just told me at the end of the day it’s mental. It’s not your game. Your game is there. “So I think that’s why I was able to turn it around in the fifth. It’s those little things that matter.”

Still, Nadal kept scrapping, clawing to double break point. Federer cracked an ace to save the first and crunched an inside-out forehand to save the second. The cliff-hanger ending added to the drama as both players—and the capacity crowd—heled their collective breath before Hawk-Eye showed the shot singed the sideline. Rarely has one man been so overjoyed by one replay. Bouncing up and down in joy, Federer was on the verge of years. The Grand Slam king may well look back on his 18th major as his most satisfying. Ultimately, Nadal was drained by the stress of the near five-hour semifinal and short recovery time, while the 35-year-old Federer grew stronger progressing through a five-game flight that recalled vintage moments. Committed to swinging freely, Roger finally conquered Rafa by removing his rival from the mental game. 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN REVIEW

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Eleven months after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and years after many wrote him off, Federer found major fulfillment against his archrival. Eight years after Federer dissolved in tears tormented by a painful fiveset defeat to Nadal, positive emotion and a willingness to rip his backhand ignited a timeless comeback completing an Australian Open for the ages.

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TWITTER CELEBRATES

FEDERER’S CHAMPIONSHIP REVIVAL By Chris Oddo

Twitter is fired up over Roger Federer’s rise to his 18th Grand Slam title.

Kisses, baby!

Stan chimes in with a hand, a GOAT and title trophy.

Mirka and Roger share a heart-felt hug.

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Inspiring to say the least.

You’ve got to love the joy.

They are all going crazy!

King of Clay’s pure class in defeat draws praise from another tennis King.

Milos Raonic shares his gratitude to the rivals.

Genie Bouchard is pumped up for Federer.

The sporting legends react.

Ultimate respect.

Gladiator Russell Crowe respected the spirited battle.

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THANKS

By Mark Peterson

FOR MAKING IT TOO BIG TO MISS

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THE LONG, SLOW GOODBYE

A brilliant Australian Open fortnight leaves our writer with a major tennis hangover. By Chris Oddo

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Forget about greatest of all time—how about simply, timeless? Because that’s what I’ll remember about Roger Federer when he declares that he’s got nothing left to prove and hangs up his tennis shoes for the last time. Think of a tennis ball suspended in mid-air as the Swiss is about to strike it. Maybe the light illuminates part of the tennis court—perhaps there is sun on the half where Federer prepares to strike the ball and shadows on the other half.

Might be on grass, might be on hardcourts, might be on clay— doesn’t matter, he was great on them all.

Freeze it. Right there, and don’t let it end.

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The endless summer day, part of an endless summer, a seemingly endless career that has stretched out across the canvas of tennis history—a tasteful swath of color so vivid, yet subtle. Freeze it, and pan around the stadium. People in awe. The press, the honorary guests, the ushers, concessionaires and ball kids. It is all happening too fast now. We are saying hello and saying goodbye while that ball hangs in the air, glowing in the last minutes of what we thought might be endless summer sunlight.

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I admit it. More than anything I feel a prevailing sense of sadness today (maybe I’ve embraced the #SleepIsForTheWeak mantra too warmly) after having watched Serena Williams and Roger Federer smash major milestones yet again this weekend at the Australian Open. It’s a sweet sorrow, I must say, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the glory of what I see as Federer’s crowning achievement isn’t tethered to the gloom of the reality that this victory moves us closer to the end than we’ve ever been before. It doesn’t matter where your allegiances angled—whether it be Federer’s regal genius, Rafael Nadal’s percolating passion, Serena Williams’ goddess thunder, Venus Williams’ fierce feminine voice (for me it is all of them!)—the roar is soon to die down.

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Ah, but the saying is true—It is better to have loved and lost… Tennis is a never-ending show-it will survive and yes, even thrive in the years to come-but pieces of us will fall off and die with the end of this era. When we say goodbye to Federer, Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams, many of us will ache. We’ll look back upon the years in remembrance. Sweet years, ones that we’ll forever cherish and ones that we’ll never get back. I was in my mid-30’s when all this Big Four madness came to be a reality. Even younger when Serena and Venus burst onto the scene in the late 90’s. I’ve loved and lost along the way. I can close my eyes and feel the presence of those who are no longer here. I can open them and see a different man in the mirror—not so young anymore.

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Gosh, where does the time go? Keep that ball in the air, don’t strike it, Roger. Leave Rafa at the other end of the court, his eyes burning with mad desire in that picture-perfect endless summer heat. Hold that pose, Serena. Your sinew flexed, your eyes wide, racquet poised like Richard taught you. Freeze, right there. Venus across the net from you like she always has been, recoiling from an exertion of force, a vibrating microcosm of what you meant to tennis and what you meant to women and men for two brilliant decades.

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That ball is flying through the air. Let’s freeze it, just as it passes from shadow to light.

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Because once it begins its descent—once we press play again, time will begin its incessant march to the end of an era. We’ve always been headed here only we just didn’t feel it as poignantly as we do today. Great parties lead to epic hangovers. This golden era will be over before we know it. The greatest— and greats—of the game aged out, their legacy all that we’ll have left to cherish.


It was a great weekend in Melbourne—one of the greatest. But now that the dust has settled the reality is sinking in. The time is now to cherish like we’ve never cherished before.

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CLOSING SHOTS By Mark Peterson

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Revel in the beauty and brilliance of Oz through the lens of photographer Mark Peterson.


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