After all was said and done on Friday night, there were few people watching their charity match who didn’t become Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (dubbed Fedal) supporters.
The pair did not disappoint the record-breaking crowd of 51 954 at Cape Town Stadium or the sizable TV audience.
The match featured lengthy volleys, incredible winners, a few aces and exceptional play at the net by both players.
Both men looked relaxed, but they didn’t hold back in the windy conditions that made ball control difficult.
Federer was also beaten by a few superb winners by Nadal, who, at one point, spun an incredible 360° around to play a shot over his shoulder.
At match point, Federer chipped the ball over the net and Nadal returned it into the net. Federer won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
The Australian Open did not deliver the result they hoped for and now that Cape Town’s exhibition match is over, it’s time for Federer (38) and Nadal (33) to focus on their tennis season.
The two heavyweights of tennis are in the late stages of their remarkable careers, but both made it clear this week that they still wanted to bag more titles.
On Friday night, Federer said he wanted to pick up his ninth title at Wimbledon. He also said that he would not mind if Nadal equalled or surpassed his record of 20 grand slam titles.
The Spaniard already has 19 titles to his name. Federer will take part in his fifth Olympic Games in July, where he hopes to improve on the silver medal that he won in London in 2012.
In 2008, he managed to win gold in the doubles final alongside Stan Wawrinka in Beijing, China.
Nadal already has two Olympic gold medals in his trophy case – one for singles in 2008 and another for doubles in 2016.
He has not yet committed himself to the Tokyo Games, but seldom says no to representing his beloved Spain.
After the Match in Africa exhibition match against Nadal on Friday, Federer said he would participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships at the end of the month.
There was barely a chance to ask the two masters about their respective seasons. Most questions were about Federer’s charity work, as the event was in support of the Roger Federer Foundation.
With sponsorships, donations and ticket sales, South Africans this week collectively spent R54.6 million to support education and training for children in rural South Africa – the most money the foundation has raised since Match for Africa started five years ago.
South Africans also ensured another first when 51 945 spectators set a new attendance record for a tennis match at Cape Town Stadium.
Federer has reduced the number of tournaments he plays to stretch out his career for a bit longer. It’s generally accepted that he will play in the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments next month. Thereafter, the clay court season will begin.
The French Open starts on May 24 and Wimbledon starts on June 29.
Nadal, who has been struggling with injuries, also doesn’t play as often as he once did. He has travelled a lot recently, and this week said it seemed likely that he would only swing his racket again in Dubai.
Midnight was approaching when Federer and Nadal walked into the press conference after a busy few days in South Africa.
Both expressed how special and unforgettable the night was.