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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Roger Federer

"That was the best five games of his entire career, and I think it was the most important win of his career,” ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert says of Roger Federer's Australian Open finish. 

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Roger Federer’s spirited rally from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set to defeat rival Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final was more than gripping Grand Slam theater.

It was the best of the best, says ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert.

Watch: BNP Paribas Open Live Blog

In a conference call with the media to promote ESPN2’s coverage of the BNP Paribas Open starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Gilbert said Federer’s majestic five-game flight through the finish line was the best tennis of his life completing the most important victory of his career.

“(Federer) got better every match. It started with the first couple of matches, and then amazingly he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, and I was sitting courtside, from 3-1 down in the fifth set, I think that was the best five games of his entire career, and I think it was the most important win of his career,” Gilbert told the media today. “It was just so great for the men's game to have that final.”

Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert says the combination of “the greatest players ever” as well as rising young stars Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev makes this the Golden Age of men’s tennis.

Evert, who collaborated with Martina Navratilova creating one of the most compelling rivalries in sport, says contrasting styles and clashing generations make this "the most exciting time" in men's tennis.

"It is, as long as I've been in the game of tennis, it is the most exciting time," Evert said. "You've got icons, the greatest players ever at the top who will go down in history, then you've got some very consistent players that have been in the top ten like Raonic and like Berdych and Nishikori and Cilic, and then you have the young guns that are so exciting like Zverev and Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios.

"It's not only a high level of tennis but it's different generations, and it's different styles, and it's all different personalities. It just is so exciting right now. I've always sort of been a spokesperson for the women's game, but I've got to say, I'm probably a little more excited about the men's right now."

Echoing Nile Rodgers, Gilbert says these are indeed good times, but believes the best is yet to come.

"I think it's an amazing time for men's tennis with the reemergence this year of Rafa and Fed, and we've got young faces, we've got older faces," Gilbert said. "The quality of tennis and the level I think it's off the charts. But I guess everybody is just curious when somebody can break through and go all the way.

"But as a tennis fan right now, I think this is as good as it's ever been, but I'm one of those people that feel like the sport is like a treadmill. I think maybe five or ten years from now, we'll be saying, God, I can't believe how good these guys are. Sports is getting better. Competition is getting better. And I just think it's a really exciting time in the sport except if you're born in the '90s and you've wanted to win Slams already."


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