Tramlines

Make sure you savour this rivalry

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When it comes to assessing the great battles between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal over the years you would have to rank last weekend's final at the O2 Arena in the upper echelons.

Sure, it never quite reached the dizzying heights of their Wimbledon final battles or the 2009 Australian Open decider, but nevertheless it was still absorbing stuff to watch.

Under Paul Annacone's coaching, Federer seems to have rediscovered that almost levitational ability to glide around the court, while the clearly not 100 per cent fit Nadal was still compelling viewing throughout the week at the O2 as he used his indomitable heart and spirit, as much as his talent, to push himself to the brink of the title.

However, you get the feeling that tennis fans are in danger of taking these Nadal-Federer clashes for granted; but what everyone needs to remember is that these two giants of the game won't be around forever.

Despite seemingly rediscovering the Midas touch, Federer is now 29-years-old, and even his most ardent fans have to concede he is in the twilight stages of his career; while the pure physical fury of Nadal's game will always leave him susceptible to injury.

So we need to drink-in every last one of these battles between arguably the two greatest warriors the sport has ever produced because the gravy train will eventually run out of steam; and anyone who thinks that tennis will be able to sustain the incredible momentum it has built up on the back of these super ambassadors is naïve in the extreme.

Those who love tennis will always watch the game, but Nadal and Federer have drawn in the casual fan in a unique way that makes tennis stand out in the popularity stakes ahead of other individual sports.

Sports viewing, even individual sports, is essentially followed by the masses along patriotic lines. Take something like Formula One for example: British people will follow Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button; for the Spanish it is all about Fernando Alonso; while the Germans cheer on Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

If a big country is not represented in a certain sport - then it tends to ignore it, only true sporting legends consistently transcend boundaries and borders.

Therefore, it is a huge testament to both Nadal and Federer's personalities that their nationalities have become largely irrelevant. They are instead true global icons; loved the world over, and the fact that they have achieved such universal admiration shows that they are more than just the best in their sport - they are also 'characters' who create compelling stories that everyone wants to follow.

Often sporting characters have to be brass and/or controversial to become such vital figures in the public consciousness (think Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali or Diego Maradona for example), but Federer and Nadal have managed to achieve it by being humble, graceful and well....just so damn likeable.

Tennis has really lucked out that their two career paths have overlapped; to have one of them would be great, but having the two of them has allowed tennis to become arguably the globe's biggest sporting show in town after the always universally popular football.

It truly is a golden age of tennis.

What will happen after they have gone is the big worry, especially if there is nobody else to take up the baton. When the compelling characters go, often the big audiences do too.

It has already happened to sports like snooker, heavyweight boxing, and dare we even say it women's tennis; there are also signs that golf's popularity is starting to fade too on the back of Tiger Woods's indiscretions and lack of form.

Sports fans have so much choice these days that only the best-of-the-best will sustain their undivided attention.

Thanks to Nadal and Federer the world is watching men's tennis at the moment and can't draw its eyes away; us tennis fans need to enjoy and savour the attention and magnificence that these two have brought to the sport for as long as it lasts, because such a spotlight won't shine forever.

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RANKINGS

Britain's Andy Murray will finish the year as world number four after regaining the spot from Sweden's Robin Soderling. Murray, who this season won the Shanghai and Toronto Masters events and reached the Australian Open final, regained fourth spot after reaching the semi-finals of the season-ending ATP World Tour finals last week. The 23-year-old slipped to fifth place two weeks ago after Soderling's victory in the Paris Masters. Murray and Soderling were the only movers in the rankings, with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic an unchanged top three (Reuters).

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TWEETS OF THE WEEK

Winner: "Just had a 10 second fart...Personal best. For those who don't do recreational farting, read-'women' 10 seconds is an eternity...It's like really good." Some will say that's crude, but Tramlines instead says genius from Dmitry Tursunov - both for the Tweet and the record (Tramlines has never got past six seconds).

Runner-up: "Took a field trip to Regent Sounds Studios on Denmark St to see where the Stones recorded their 1st album. Place was dripping in history." - Most tennis players tweet incessantly from their hotel rooms, nice to Bob Bryan getting out and about and seeing some of London.

Wooden spoon: "Going to sleep. Was a great day! Tomorrow going to play tennis! Good night everyone. Xx." - Victoria Azarenka, the tennis player, gives us the insightful information that she plans to play some tennis the following day.

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A-BOG v A-BOG

Of course the only tennis rivalry that comes close to (some would even say surpasses) the Nadal-Federer rivalry, is the eternal struggle to become the top A-Bog in international tennis and do you know what happened last week????

ONE OF THEM WON A TOURNAMENT.

Was it Britain's own Alex Bogdanovic?????.....eh of course not, in fact he didn't even play.

However, Alex Bogomolov Jr cut through the field at a Challenger in Champaign, Illinois, beating Amer Delic in the final. Well played lad!

Standings: A-Bog (US) 20-12 A-Bog (GB)

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THIS WEEK

The Davis Cup final between Serbia and France takes place this weekend and should be a cracking contest. Follow the build-up all week here on Eurosport Yahoo! We will then have live text commentary on every live rubber and Tramlines will offer up its thoughts on the final again next Monday.

Can wait that long for your Tramlines fix? Well remember you can now follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TramlinesTennis
 

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