Rafael Nadal admitted that both he and Roger Federer never thought that they would face each other in a final again after both turned back time to make the summit clash at the 2017 Australian Open.
The Spaniard beat two top-10 ranked players, while the Swiss maestro beat three on their way to the finals on Sunday (29 January) and both players have admitted that they are surprised to have made it this far in the tournament.
Both Federer and Nadal had a difficult 2016 season due to injury, the former last played in a ranking tournament at Wimbledon last year before signing up for the Australian Open, while the latter cut short his season in October after wrist injury problems.
The last time the two former world number one's met across a tennis court was to play mini tennis when Federer was the guest of honour for the opening of a tennis academy to which Nadal has lent his name in his hometown Mallorca. The 14-time Grand Slam winner admits that at time either of the players did not think they would be playing the final of a major tournament.
"That was amazing. I have said hundreds of time, but I can't stop saying thanks because it was very emotional for everybody," Nadal said about the opening of the Academy, as quoted by BBC Sport.
"In that moment, for sure, we never thought that we have the chance to be in a final again."
Nadal and Federer's run to the final was aided by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray's early exit from the tournament. If their past encounters are anything to go by, the fans will be in for another classic, it also could be something that might not happen again too soon in the future.
The Swiss ace has one day more rest than Nadal having played on Thursday (26 January), and the Spaniard admits that it is an advantage. But the 30-year-old was in a similar situation in 2009 when he came through a five hour and 14 minute semi-final against Fernando Verdasco, only to beat Federer in five sets in the final. However, he admits that it was a different match and that the outcomes of the past 34 meetings will not have any bearing on the result on Sunday.
"That was a long time ago. It is a different match, a different moment for both of us. This match is completely different than what happened before," the nine-time French Open champion added.
"I really don't think about what happened in the past. I think the player who plays better is going to be the winner," he said.