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Federer and Nadal

While I’m not sure if men’s tennis exactly needed saving, you cannot deny just how beneficial a Wimbledon final like Nadal/Federer can be for a sport. John McEnroe called it the best match he had ever seen and of course, the ESPN’s of the world have been overflowing in their praise of Nadal — and after watching him withstand yesterday’s grueling marathon featuring Roger Federer-launched bombs coming at him to win his first Wimbledon title, it’s easy to see why.

In order for Nadal to win in London’s grass courts, he had to overcome the current king of that particular castle and the now-deposed ruler was not giving up his crown without a fight all-out war. What we the fans were treated to was some spectacular tennis and two players refusing to bend to the other.

In other words, the performance was so great, it should breath life into a sport that’s been waning on the popularity scale. And if you have any doubt about the magnitude of the victory, just watch Nadal’s reaction after the winning point.

Much like soccer, tennis fans have a tendency to base their allegiances on nationality and because of that — and the distinct lack of an American men’s player in the top portion of tennis’ pantheon — interest level in the United States isn’t what it once was during the days of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi as well as McEnroe and Jimmy Connors before them. But if any American tennis fans happened to watch the Rafael Nadal/Roger Federer final and still remained uninterested and jaded because Andy Roddick failed them again, they might want to think of returning their “Tennis Fan” membership card.

And if patriotism is the motivating factor for the level of interest in a sport, the performance of the Williams sisters should have been enough to at least attract the most jingoistic of fans. Hopefully, some of those blue-bloods stuck around long enough to catch yesterday’s spectacular display of tennis and perhaps developed a new respect and admiration for the two best players in the world.

Even if they aren’t American.

If that did actually occur but you are unsure how to continue this enjoyment when the US Open comes back to Flushing, NY, Eli Gieryna has a great post outlining some of the players you should be aware of.