Switzerland's Roger Federer (R) stands next to Rod Laver as he celebrates with the championship trophy during the awards ceremony after his victory against Spain's Rafael Nadal (L) in the men's singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2017. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

AO 2017: Federer and Nadal cap off the best Grand Slam in years

Sometimes, in the moment, it can be hard to get a proper perspective on things.

But what unfolded over the two weeks of the 2017 Australian Open seemed to pass no one by.

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While watching Federer, Nadal, Serena and Venus slowly but surely make their way through the draw while numerous seeds fell around them, it dawned on the tennis world that we may indeed get the two matchups that deep down we all craved to see once more.

After years of taking for granted arguably the greatest rivalries of all time in both the men’s and women’s game, they were both coming out for what may very well be one last victory lap, in the final of Australia’s Grand Slam.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates his victory against Spain’s Rafael Nadal during the men’s singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2017. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

They did not disappoint.

At the end of last year, you could be forgiven for thinking that we had seen the last of what was potentially the greatest tennis rivalry of all time.

With Roger Federer sitting on the sidelines with a knee injury, having also battled back problems and illness, and Rafael Nadal having not reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the since 2004, time looked well and truly to have finally defeated the two champions.

Just a few months later and the two were stepping onto court together for the 35th time to play off for the Australian Open crown.

Having played each other in a Grand Slam Final nine times prior, and 11 times in Slams in all, the two greats showed they knew each others games inside out, playing out a five set epic.

They traded sets, Federer winning the first and third 6-4 and 6-1, Nadal winning the second and fourth 6-3 and 6-3, and after a break of serve in the fifth, The King of Clay looked like he was about to close the gap between he and Fed to just two Grand Slams titles.

But it was the Swiss Maestro who prevailed, taking out the decider 6-3 to win his 18th major, widening the gap between himself and his rival to four Grand Slam titles.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates with the championship trophy during the awards ceremony after his victory against Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the men’s singles final on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2017. GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

But among the euphoria of the night the fact was lost that this may very well be the last time we see the two greatest men’s tennis players of all time on this stage, both individually and very likely against each other.

Federer missed out on a Grand Slam Final in 2016, only the second time that has happened since 2002, and Nadal had not played in one since winning the French Open in 2014.

As mentioned earlier, they had missed out on playing each other at that stage of a major for over five years, and 2016 marked the first year since their first encounter in 2004 that they had not played each other.

Federer at 35 and Nadal at 30, fans of the players and tennis fans alike were well aware of the possibility that one of the greatest and most entertaining chapters of men’s tennis was slowly coming to a close.

In January, we re-opened it.

If even only for just one night, it was good enough. In fact it was better than good enough.

Thank you Rafa and Roger. It’s been great fun.

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