The first Grand Slam of the year has turned into a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Australian Open 2017 has produced two dream finals for fans and critics alike, and will forever be remembered as the "Throwback Slam".
With 35-year-old Serena Williams facing her 36-year-old sister Venus in Saturday's women's final and a rested Roger Federer, 35, waiting for Rafael Nadal, 30, on Sunday, it is the first time in the open era that all four Grand Slam finalists have been over 30.
Serena and Venus Williams have rolled back the years at Melbourne, and will be meeting in a Grand Slam final for the first time since Wimbledon in 2009.
Serena is bidding for an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam, while Venus is targeting her eighth major, and first since Wimbledon in 2008.
What makes it even more special is that this is Venus’ first final at the Australian Open since the two met in the 2003 decider. Back then the courts were still green with Rebound Ace surface, and Eminem's Lose Yourself was on top of the music charts.
The first time the Williams sisters actually met in a professional event was in the second round at the Australian Open in 1998, which Venus won 7-6(4), 6-1.
Federer is the oldest man to reach the final of a Grand Slam since Australian Ken Rosewall made the US Open final in 1974 at the age of 39, and his performances this fortnight has been reminiscent of the mid-2000s where was the undisputed king.
Federer and Nadal are into their first Slam showpiece since the French Open in 2011. The Swiss is eyeing his 18th major title while his opponent is attempting to lift a 15th major trophy.
In the doubles, the Bryan brothers have also made it to their 10th Australian Open final. The 37-years-old twins have now made a major final in every year since 2003.
Some are wondering whether faster court conditions at Melbourne Park are the reason behind the surprise revival of tennis' old guard.
Fernando Verdasco moaned that Rod Laver Arena was playing like "indoor carpet in the 1980s", but not everyone is complaining.
Former teenage prodigy Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, aged 34, was also one of the semi-finalists -- 18 years after her last appearance in a Grand Slam's final four.
Along the way, defence-minded top seed Andy Murray was upset by serve-volleyer Mischa Zverev, and six-time champion Novak Djokovic lost to 117th-ranked Denis Istomin.
It has made for the most unpredictable Grand Slam tournament of recent times, with few willing to forecast what will unfold over the last two days.
Federer said his return from a six-month injury break may have been helped by a speedier centre court, which keeps points shorter and rewards attacking play.
He said older players will have grown up playing on faster courts, making them instinctively attuned to the quicker movement of the ball.
That's not tennis
"The older generation, I'm saying like anything before 2005, they are used to faster courts. From that moment on, it was a switch," Federer said.
"I remember my indoor courts that I used to play on in Switzerland, they were lightning. I mean, I was playing on carpet or something like this (floor) that was shiny.
"You hit a slice, you could stay on the baseline, you knew it was always going to come to you. Then everything changed as time went by."
Venus said she liked a court that was "playable" -- where winners, or what should be winners, don't come back every time, prolonging the rally.
"I think the courts have to be not too slow, not too fast. It's got to be playable," she said. "You don't want every ball to come back.
"At some point there should be a winner. If you're hitting through the court and the ball just sits, that's not tennis. It should go through the court."
Federer agreed that the older Williams sister seemed at home on the faster courts as she cuts a swathe through the draw.
"I think it just is natural for her to play well on this surface because maybe there's less thinking going on, you just play with instinct," he said.
"That's maybe what older guys can do very well because they don't get frustrated in faster conditions. It's also an art to learn that.
"You see with Zverev, who was able to attack the net all the time, not getting frustrated."
Federer added: "Maybe it has helped me, too, in my comeback. No doubt about it."
With two blockbuster finales set for Saturday and Sunday, fans sure aren't complaining. Whatever be the reasons, the surprising results at the Australian Open have written new chapters in two of the most compelling rivalries in this sport.
(With inputs from agencies)
Published Date: Jan 28, 2017 12:04 PM | Updated Date: Jan 28, 2017 12:04 PM