Swiss master Roger Federer has beaten Rafa Nadal in a pulsating Australian Open final. His triumph brings his grand slam total to 18.
The spectacle was the latest of a decade-long dominance of one of sport’s most enduring rivalries.
At 35, Federer is the oldest man to win a major in 45 years. It was his first since 2012, pushing his all-time men’s record to 18 majors. Federer han’t played tennis for six months until January
The extraordinary triumph – from a service break down in the deciding set and in his first tournament back after six months out to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left knee – earned the mighty Swiss a fifth Open crown and an incredible 18th slam.
Pulling four clear of Nadal and Pete Sampras on the all-time grand slam title leaderboard, Roger Federer’s most improbable revival emphatically confirms his status as the sport’s greatest modern-day player.
He’s undoubtedly the Pele, Ali, Nicklaus, Jordan, Bolt and Peter Pan of tennis after crowning his spectacular comeback with his first grand slam win triumph over Nadal since Wimbledon 2007.
“I’m out of words, I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. I don’t think we both – either one of us – believed we would be in the finals in Australia when we saw each other at your academy sort of four, five months ago.”
“Here we stand in the finals. I’m happy for you. I would have been happy to lose too, to be honest. My comeback was perfect as it was.”
“Tennis is a tough sport. There’s no draws but, if there was going to be one, I would have been very happy to accept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa, really.”
His victory provided the ultimate climax to his milestone 100th Australian Open match and record 28th grand slam final.
“It’s a beautiful moment in my career,” he said.
But the realist said while he hoped to return to Melbourne Park for a 19th Open tilt, at 36 may not happen.
“If not, this was a wonderful run here and I can’t be more happy to have won tonight,” Federer said.
“Knowing that I have only so much tennis left in me, if I do get injured, you know, maybe if I miss next year, who knows what happens.”
“You never know when your next grand slam is going to be, if ever. You never know if you’re going to have an opportunity at this stage.”
In defeat, Nadal was equally gracious.
“First of all, I can say congrats to Roger and all his team,” Nadal said. “Just amazing the way he’s playing after such a long time without being on the tour. For sure, you have been working hard to get that one, so very happy for you.
“Today, I think was a great match. Probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me.”
“Against Rafa it’s always epic,” Federer said in a later interview. “This one means a lot to me because he’s caused me problems over the years.”