Not even being the world number one in your sport could protect you from the possibility of having an accident that could lay you up for some lengthy period, convalescing even as other players continue performing and threaten your standing in the ranks. This is pretty much the story of Swiss tennis superstar and one-time world number one Roger Federer, who was sidelined for the latter half of the 2016 tennis season by a (fortunately non-arrow related) knee injury. When he joined the 2017 Australian Open just this January, he wasn’t seen as a strong contender compared to Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray.

So the surprise was pretty significant when battled his way to the finals and won the title after besting Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Battle of healing men

It was a match that was rather unexpected, as not only Federer but his rival for the title Nadal has been nursing some pains from previous matches. And not to mention their age group has been progressively getting older than the rest of the pack. But that didn’t stop them from slugging away one hell of a final for the Australian Open Men’s Singles. It ran a grueling three and a half hours, ultimately netting for Federer his 18th grand slam win with a back-and-forth score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, and 6-3. It was sweet payback for how Nadal humbled Federer in the 2009 Australian, also in five sets that left the defeated Swiss crying.

Now he plans to celebrate his comeback victory by partying “like rock-stars” till dawn, a sentiment his loyal fans can get behind with.

"I don't think either one of us believed we were going to be in the finals at the Australian Open,” remarked Federer on his and Nadal’s good fortune. “Four, five months ago, and here we stand in the finals." It’s obvious that he had a greater reason to be happy with the results, and Nadal could only comment wistfully when comparing his runner-up trophy to what his opponent got as Men’s Singles champion.

Similar circumstances

One must note the long gap between Federer’s latest title and the previous one, all the way back from Wimbledon in 2012. The now-35-year-old had thought he was good as started in his declining years in tennis, and never in his “wildest dreams” did he ever see himself where he was last Sunday January 29.

The closest comparison he got was his French Open 2009 title win, the only time he triumphed on a clay court. The fact that he and Nadal got in a monumental rally during this Australian Open finals that lasted 26 shots of the tennis ball seems proof that for Federer, he’s still got more.