In Sport, often you don’t realise you’re watching a piece of history unfold in front of your eyes.
This is true for some of the greatest moments we have witnessed- Manchester United scoring two injury time goals to secure the Champions League in 1999, when Usain Bolt unveiled himself to the world at the Beijing Olympics and Ireland’s recent victory over the All-Blacks in Chicago.
Sometimes it is much easier to spot. When Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally agreed to fight, everyone thought (wrongly as it turned out) that it would be their last, and when Rafael Nadal secured his place in the Australian Open final against Roger Federer, history began to unveil itself once more.
The pair dominated the tennis scene from the early 2000’s right up to the emergence of a Novak Djokovic.
So strong was the newly established Serb -that a rivalry between the two best tennis players on the planet diminished.
The contrast in styles was what made Nadal vs Federer such an enthralling match up; speed and raw power against elegance and grace.
Debating about who was the better player in their prime is like arguing whether Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo, or vice versa- it depends on who you ask.
In many ways, this rivalry resembles that of the footballers.
If you watch Federer play, especially in his earliest days, his strokes were so smooth and elegant that you felt that such talent could not be built in the gym, and his physic, which was scrawny in build did not resemble that of an athlete.
In this hypothetical situation, Nadal is Ronaldo. Clear talent, worked on through hours and hours of practice and heavily reliant on speed and power.
In head to head games, Nadal leads comfortably 23-11 but when it comes to Masters trophies, Federer is ahead by three.
On clay, there is only one winner with the Spaniard claiming nine French Open titles but, on grass Federer is more dominant, winning Wimbledon seven times to Nadal’s two.
For many, the Pacquio vs Mayweather fight came too late in their career and the when the fight did happen in 2014, it disappointed because neither fighter was in their prime.
However, the rules of tennis allow the best players to face off during their prime and in 2008, the pair played out their most anticipated and arguably most famous clash.
Unlike the boxing bout- the game on the grass of Wimbledon did not disappoint.
The longest final in Wimbledon history and finished in near darkness, Nadal defeated Federer, ending his 65-game unbeaten streak on grass.
Through the dying stages of the Australian Open, both men were reeling back the years.
Federer eased passed Stan Wawrinka in his semi-final bout, in a performance so befitting of the Swiss superstar that you could’ve forgotten he is now 35 years old.
Earlier in the competition during a press conference, Federer was asked how he kept ability going through the years, “Clearly I’m very talented” he replied with an arrogance straying from his normal persona of humbleness- but even though he did not have to, he backed up this statement against Wawrinka.
Nadal didn’t have it as easy against Grigor Dimitrov last night but despite this showed the grit and steal he has had through his career to win out 3-2.
The tense affair in which two sets were settled by tie-break left fans at the edge of their seats, hoping and anticipating the possibility of one final Federer/Nadal game.
Now we await the slice of history that we will witness. The rivalry, in its truest and most honest sense will come to an end. Will we ever see a better one in tennis? Perhaps not, so while we can, one last time we should enjoy it.