Euro 2020 set to divide Switzerland's Roger Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal
With Spain and Switzerland headed for a clash in the Euro 2020 quarters, it looks like God's have conspired to make a Fedal face-off happen, albeit on the football field during Wimbledon season.
Move over, Marvel and DC crossovers, we have tennis and football doing a number with both Euro Cup 2020 and the Wimbledon Championships taking place at the same time. While the Euro 2020 has already entered the most heated knock-out stages, Wimbledon is just about getting started - its grass still too green, fresh and slippery and longing to be worn.
As would be poetic justice and the universe's curious ways of conjuring things and making them alright, the Swiss football team pulled off an absolute stunner to shock the 2018 World Champions and 2-time Euro Cup winners France in their last-16 clash. Nobody - nobody saw it coming, especially from Switzerland, yet football is a place where miracles do happen.
On the other hand, serving out the justice mentioned earlier, was the team of Spain, who side-passed Croatia in yet another thriller to book a date with the Swiss. Strange that it would happen in Wimbledon season, isn't it?
The Spain and Switzerland familiarity in tennis
Just over a week before the Wimbledon was set to begin, Spain's Rafael Nadal announced that he will be giving both the Big W and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics a miss, in order to prolong his career on the tour. While the news of Nadal's absence massively upset a large number of his fans, the fact that Switzerland's Roger Federer, an 8-time Wimbledon champion, was getting ready to hit the courts of the All England Club to make another comeback, kept them caught in a tizzy.
Ever since Spaniard Rafael Nadal equalled the Swiss Maestro's 20 Grand Slam haul in October 2020, fans have been impatient to see another clash between the two legends of the sport. With Nadal not playing Wimbledon or the Olympics and Federer withdrawing in the fourth round of the 2021 French Open, it seemed like a Spanish-Swiss encounter would require some wait.
However, the universe does work in funny ways and away from the tennis courts and on the football field, Spanish players will lock horns with the Swiss on 2nd July for a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020. Immediately after the match, both ace tennis players, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer took to their social handles to congratulate the respective teams most jubilantly and show their excitement for the upcoming quarter-final clash between Spain and Switzerland.
A night of thrillers - Wimbledon x Euro Cup 2020
Tune in your Michael Jackson already as yesterday was a trailer of the thrilling nights to come over the next two weeks, swinging in between Hotstar showing the Big W to SonyLiv with the Euro Cup 2020 - the nights promise to be high-strung with top-quality sporting action.
The itinerary was neatly drawn out - a) watch defending champion Novak Djokovic take to the Centre Court and get things underway at the Wimbledon Championships, b) tune into the pre-quarter-final clash between Spain and Croatia at the Euro 2020, c) with fingers-crossed and eyes cast in disbelief, watch as Sir Andy Murray attempts a comeback at Big W and finally, d) settle in for the night with an expectedly no-nonsense Switzerland vs France clash. Sounds hectic but quite routine, no? Well, plans like this can often take a backseat as with sports, the Numero Uno rule is never to take a second granted for - anything can happen at any moment and yesterday proved to be one such memorable case.
The Novak Djokovic match against Britain's Jack Draper was short-lived despite a hiccup but the action spiked up considerably with Spain going up against Croatia at the Parken Stadium. With no hints whatsoever of the match turning towards a thriller, the match swivelled quite dramatically - as quick goals started coming up. Initially, Spain had the lead 3-1, before the Croatians started to level up and Spain raced ahead to 5-3 to secure the match convincingly. Given the last-minute goals by Croatia, the match ran into extra-time but Spain successfully managed to while it away and all but, earned their spot in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray had also taken the stage at the Centre Court and was comfortably scripting his comeback and even led 5-0 in the third set after having bagged the first two, before a dramatic turnaround happened. His 24th seeded opponent, Nikoloz Basilashvili came back from nowhere to take the third set and dragged the match into a fourth. However, after plenty of loud grunts and laboured shots, fist-pumps and rousing cheers, Andy Murray secured a triumphant victory, 6-4,6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
On the other hand, France entered their pre-quarter match as the clear favourite before Switzerland rose to the challenge like no other and what followed was a sheer nail-biter. Coming back from the greatest odds, the Swiss team scored two goals in the final five minutes of the match to level 3-3 and force it into extra-time and finally, to a thrilling penalty shoot-out. Into the nerve-wracking penalties, Switzerland really stepped up their game and a precious miss by French star footballer Kylian Mbappe at the eleventh hour cost France the match and gave the Swiss their first victory in the knock-out stages of a tournament since 1938.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal love football
In an alternate reality (yes, excuse the MCU fluff), Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be surely trying to wriggle the ball out of the feet of the other and sneak away to score a goal, instead of engaging in brutal cross-court rallies seasoned with the occasional drop shots and the cheeky slices. With no chances of such meetings happening on the court at Wimbledon this year, it seems like the demigods of tennis have been quietly pulling their strings to make a much-awaited Swiss-Spanish match happen, albeit on a football ground, this time.
Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer share a deep love for football and have on occasion one too many confessed their desire to play on a football field, professionally. The Swiss legend, who is the brand ambassador of Visit Switzerland currently roots for FC Basel and the Swiss team most passionately while Nadal swears by his Spanish roots and cheers for Real Madrid, Mallorca FC and Spain's national football team.
In fact, Roger Federer was quite torn in between football and tennis when he was a youngster and eventually decided to pick tennis for amicable reasons, in retrospect. But the love for the game still continues and his skills with football are also quite decent - although his silky smooth grace with the racquet confirms that tennis and Roger Federer was a match made in heaven.
"I had to sort of take a decision, soccer or tennis. It was quite easy to be honest, I was successful in soccer, but it doesn't go at the pace as tennis goes, soccer takes many more years. Tennis, I like that I was the one to blame if I lost. Soccer, I was always the bad loser, sometimes I could not believe we lost, and that's not Fair. I need to blame myself if I lost. Then of course I chose tennis, the most I lost, the most I cried," Roger Federer said in an interview with Tennis World USA.
On the other hand, Federer's arch-rival, Rafael Nadal is also quite the pro at football and can be often seen cheering on his favourite teams during their matches. In fact, such is his love for Real Madrid that he even attends the matches at the stadium and earlier, erstwhile Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo would meet up with Rafa. When the Spanish team scored a massive victory in 2010 by winning the World Cup, Nadal was present with them, celebrating the win in the locker room.
On 2nd July, when Switzerland will meet Spain at the quarter-finals of Euro Cup 2020, fans longing for a Swiss-Spanish meeting can breathe a small sigh of relief. Pumped up by the unexpected win, Swiss players will try their very best to continue the run and give the talented Spanish team a hard time. Although Spain has dominated Switzerland in football, having only lost once, drawn five and won 16 meetings against them, Switzerland will hope for luck to favour them. Just like any Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal encounter, this Euro Cup match will also toy with our emotions and at least, grant poetic justice, more than anything.