It's been 30 years since Jack Nicklaus captured his 18th major championship. So with Roger Federer on the precipice of joining the club, the Golden Bear had to be watching every serve of the Australian Open's final set between Federer and Rafael Nadal on the seat of his chair, yes? Not quite.
"I saw the first four sets and unfortunately I got called away for a business call, so I missed the last set," Nicklaus told the ATP's Paul Macpherson. "I’m going to watch it the next time they replay it. When I was done I got to see the speeches afterwards, which were very nice."
The symmetry between the two legends' 18th titles -- Nicklaus', of course, at the 1986 Masters -- was not lost on Nicklaus, however.
"Most of the first 17 I won I expected to win if I worked hard and put myself in that position," Nicklaus remarked to Macphereson. "I felt like I was the best player on the golf course and that’s what I was there for. I’m sure Roger in his first 17 felt much the same way.
"Then you get to a point in your career where you know that you may be beyond your peak but you get yourself to a position where you get a chance to do it again and your body and your mind remember how to do it. That’s what happened to me in ’86. I don’t think Roger had any expectations going into this event, having six months off. And all of a sudden he got to the semi-finals and finals and he said, ‘Hey, I remember how to play this game and I’m going to play it.'"
Though Nicklaus is a renowned sports fanatic, tennis holds a special place in his heart. He can sometimes be seen at tournaments and owns three grass courts at his North Palm Beach home. The 77 year old pointed out this passion came from his father.
"My dad introduced me to tennis as a kid. He was the city tennis champion in Columbus," Nicklaus said. "He taught me just enough to allow me to understand the game."