Rafael Nadal Thwarts Roger Federer Again: Will He Ever Be the Greatest?!

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IFebruary 2, 2009

Yesterday saw the men's singles final at the Australian Open, and it saw the best two tennis players in the world go at it for the first time since their unforgettable match at Wimbledon.

Similar to that day half a year ago, the match went down to the wire in an epic confrontation the likes of which we almost expect to see each time these two heavyweights step onto the court to face each other.

And, again, it was the Spaniard who came out on top, claiming his sixth Grand Slam title. He now just needs the US Open to achieve what Federer has yet to achieve—winning all four Grand Slams.

In the process of winning his sixth Grand Slam, Nadal also prevented Federer winning his 14th, a tally that would have equalled Pete Sampras' record. The Swiss maestro must be wondering how long he will have to wait to break it with the thorn that is Rafa Nadal stuck in his side.

A few years ago, betting on Federer having reached Sampras' record by now would have been a very safe bet. Instead, Nadal has continually thwarted him at the French Open, and more recently at Wimbledon and yesterday at the Aussie Open.

Federer would be considered the best of all time by almost everyone by now had Nadal not come along. But can he really be considered the best now? After all, there are a few players who he just doesn't seem to be able to beat now, notably Nadal and Andy Murray.

It can't really be argued that Federer is past his prime; after all, he still looks as majestic and classy as ever. But the brute force and aggression of Nadal—and Murray, for that matter—are the perfect foil for that.

Of course, the likes of Sampras and Borg had tough opponents during their times, such as Andre Agassi and John McEnroe, to name just two, but they overcame them. Will Federer be able to do the same with Nadal?

Both are certainly destined for the pantheon of greats if they keep this up. Actually, Federer is already there.

He may well, in fact, be the greatest of all time, but we could be seeing someone even better in Nadal.