Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer revised an old rivalry that may be on its last legs on Jan. 24. In a way, Nadal and Federer did just what Peyton Manning and Tom Brady did on Jan. 19, as two legendary rivals faced off in a semifinal game to get on the brink of one more major championship. Yet Manning ultimately breezed by Brady in the AFC championship, just as Nadal destroyed Federer in the Australian Open semifinal.
Nadal took care of Federer by 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 to put himself on the brink of his second Australian Open title, just as Manning is on the brink of his second Super Bowl. Of course, in tennis there are four major championships, with Nadal on the verge of his 14'th major title -- which would put him three shy of Federer's record-setting 17.
Federer, like Brady, has been on a championship drought and is losing his window of opportunity to get one more. In fact, the 2014 Australian Open was the closest he'd gotten to a major victory in some time. After beating Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, it looked like Federer was gearing himself for one final run -- until Nadal gave him a dose of harsh reality.
Federer once set the standard for tennis, like Brady did in the NFL. Nadal has had to play catch up all these years, while Manning has struggled to live up to Brady's standards. But in truth, Nadal and Manning are now the real standard bearers in their sports.
The biggest difference in these rivalries is that Brady still holds a 10-5 advantage over Manning, whereas Nadal has technically blown out Federer for years. With this latest triumph, Nadal improved to 8-2 over Federer in Grand Slam matches, as well as 23-10 overall.
Brady and Manning may never face off for a championship again, depending on Manning's neck condition. Nadal and Federer might have a few more matches left in them, although Federer is now more prone to losing earlier in Grand Slams.
While Federer and Brady may have already peaked, Nadal and Manning still have heights left to climb -- heights that could still surpass the arch-rivals they've chased for years. Of course, both men could really help their cases with one more win, with Nadal still needing to beat Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open final on Jan. 26.