French newspaper L’Equipe, bestowed upon Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the honour of being the Male Athletes of the Year. It was a historic moment as the award went to two sportsmen at the same time for the first time in 42 years. This feat has only been achieved before by two tennis players, Guy Forget and Henri Leconte in 1991. The difference was that they were the best French sportsmen, when France won Davis Cup. Federer gets the award for the fourth time in his career after 2004, 2005 and 2006. Current World No. 1 Nadal prevailed in 2010 and 2013 before.
L’Equipe caught up with Federer after he received the award. He said, “Yes I do. Someone will say no, someone yes. I think you can view our seasons the way you want. Both of us did something amazing. He ended the year as No. 1, he is also the oldest player to end the year at this position, which I wasn’t aware of. It is something that nobody did before, so from that side, he must be given credit. Even he made a comeback, like me. I am five years older than him, which makes things even more complicated. And I beat him every time. We can combine all the things the way we want, but I perfectly agree.”
Federer also opened up about the Australian Open final where he broke Nadal when the Spaniard was leading 3-1 in the fifth set. He shrugged off suggestions that the 5th set was decisive for whole season. He said, “It’s a little bit exaggerated but it’s true. In that moment I showed that I can play fabulous forever (laughter). I play very, very well. It was a great moment for the whole season.” Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport also awarded Federer Best Male Athlete of the year. It was the fourth time after 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Federer and Nadal may have been named the best male athletes but now, their focus is on trying to stay fit for the 2018 Australian Open.