Of rallies and bouts — Roger Federer to Mary Kom

As the sporting calendar comes to an end after a year full of remarkable events, here's a look at the top sporting comebacks of 2017.

Nadal (right), who also made a comeback from a wrist injury, pushed Federer to the edge at the Australian Open.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Roger Federer's Grand Slam rout

Coming into the Australian Open after a six-month injury layoff, many doubted if 16th ranked Roger Federer had another Grand Slam in him. But the Swiss legend eased his way past three top-10 ranked players — Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka — to set up a final date with arch-rival Rafael Nadal.

Coming into the Australian Open after a six-month injury layoff, many doubted if 16th ranked Roger Federer had another Grand Slam in him.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Nadal, who also made a comeback from a wrist injury, pushed Federer to the edge and the tense encounter was taken to a deciding fifth set. Federer was at his clinical best and sealed the tie with a blazing forehand cross-court winner to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and clinch his 17th Grand Slam title, his first since 2012 Wimbledon.

While Federer chose to opt out of the French Open, his remarkable comeback continued at the grass-courts of Wimbledon, where he defeated Marin Cilic to win a record 8th Wimbledon title and become only the second player in the Open era to win the tournament without dropping a set. The Swiss legend now holds 19 Grand Slam trophies to his name.

Egypt qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Egypt qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in over a quarter of a century in a remarkable fashion. Liverpool man Mohamed Salah, the talisman of the Egyptian side, had been in fine form through the qualifiers and had the nation's hopes on his shoulders as his side faced Congo in a must-win encounter.

Liverpool man Mohamed Salah, the talisman of the Egyptian side, had been in fine form through the qualifiers and had the nation's hopes on his shoulders as his side faced Congo in a must-win encounter.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Salah put the side up in the 63rd minute but Congo restored parity in the 87th minute and the tie seemed to be heading towards a draw. However, fate had other plans as Egypt was awarded a late penalty in the last minute of injury time and it was all down to Salah. Dubbed the 'Egyptian Messi', the forward stepped up to the spot and slotted the ball home, sending fans across the world into a tizzy and booking his side's spot in the most prestigious football tournament of all.

Mary Kom clinching the Asian Championship gold

Olympic bronze medallist and India’s most decorated female boxer, Mary Kom made a spectacular comeback to professional boxing after a three-year hiatus at the Asian Boxing Championship. Kom participated in her preferred 48kg category after a gap of five long years and stitched together a string of powerful performances to reach her sixth final in as many appearances.

Olympic bronze medallist and India’s most decorated female boxer, Mary Kom made a spectacular comeback to professional boxing after a three-year hiatus at the Asian Boxing Championship.   -  M. MOORTHY

 

Magnificent Mary fought a brave bout and prevailed in a unanimous 5-0 verdict against North Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi to clinch a record fifth gold medal at the Championship. This was the Manipuri pugilist's first international gold medal since the 2014 Asian Games.

Rossi braves broken legs to race at Aragon

One of the most successful MotoGP racers of all time, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi suffered a freak training accident that left him with fractures in both his legs. While doctors suggested a minimum period of a month for recovery, the 38-year-old icon made a stunning comeback, in all of 23 days; to participate in the Aragon Grand Prix.

One of the most successful MotoGP racers of all time, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi suffered a freak training accident that left him with fractures in both his legs.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

The Italian registered the third fastest time in qualifiers to secure a seat on the grid but was unable to capitalise on the advantage as he finished fifth in the race.

Regardless of the result, the fact that he got himself back on his bike after breaking both his legs and came back to compete against the likes of Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Vinales, is a phenomenal feat.

Rafael Nadal’s surge to the top

Forced to end his 2016 campaign prematurely due to a wrist injury, Rafael Nadal got off a flying start this year as he finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open. Nadal looked in great touch on the hard-courts and a promising year was in the beckoning.

The Spaniard’s love affair with the French Open continued as he played a flawless tournament and brushed aside Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to clinch a record 10th French Open title. ‘The King of Clay’ was in sublime form as he won the championship without dropping a single set. The triumph was even sweeter as he became the first player in the Open era to win 10 titles in a single Grand Slam.

The Spaniard’s love affair with the French Open continued as he played a flawless tournament and brushed aside Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to clinch a record 10th French Open title.   -  AFP

 

Nadal's season only went on to get better as the 31-year-old was named as the top seed at the US Open and what a better way to justify the seeding than by winning the title! The left-handed maestro thwarted South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to lift his third US Open crown and his 16th Grand Slam title.

Having started the year ranked nine, the big-serving Nadal’s Grand Slam exploits earned him the top spot on the ATP rankings as he ended the year as world number one and went into history books as the oldest player to finish a year ranked number one.