Federer Foils Nadal To Win 18th Grand Slam In 5-Set Australian Open Thriller
by Staff | January 29th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Rivalry renewed! Roger Federer had not beaten Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam match in over nine years, and early in the fifth it looked like the trend would continue with Nadal up a break in a see-saw Australian Open final Sunday. But Federer authors one of his best spurts of his career winning the last five games of the match to win the title 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“I told myself to play free,” Federer said. ‘That’s what we discussed with Ivan and Severin before the matches. You play the ball, you don’t play the opponent. Be free in your head, be free in your shots, go for it. The brave will be rewarded here. I didn’t want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa. I think it was the right decision at the right time.”

The wins was Federer’s first title at a Grand Slam since 2012 Wimbledon and his first at the Australian Open since 2010. And it boosted his Grand Slam title count to 18, tying him with women’s greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

And it denied Nadal a second Career Slam, which some argued would have given Nadal supreme reign over Federer in the GOAT debate.

Both players had come off 5-set semifinals with Nadal’s a near 5-hour gripping epic against Grigor Dimitrov on Friday. But Federer had the extra day off and early on he came out of the blocks quicker during the 3-hour, 37-minute battle, breaking Nadal at 3-3. And he raced away with the first set.

Nadal began to assert his gameplan in the second set. He served better and began really whipping the forehand, creating errors from Federer. A quick break gave Nadal a 2-0 lead and not soon after it was 4-0. The set was in hand, momentum had changed to Nadal.

With Rafa surging, looking back it may have been the pivotal game the first game of the third set. Nadal had three break points but each one erased with a Federer ace. Had Nadal broke, might he have continued his run? Instead, the disappointment of those missed opportunities carried into the next game and Nadal was broken. Federer was back in control and he never let go scoring a 6-1 set behind 18 winners and just four points lost on first serve.

Federer had regained the lead, but it wouldn’t last long.

A missed volley to start the fourth re-opened the door for Nadal. And that was all he needed. As Federer began to show signs of two 5-set matches and three Top 10 wins in his first tournament in six months, Nadal ramped up the ground game and he lost just seven points on serve in the set.

Dead even, Federer left the court to get treatment for an adductor injury. The 8-minute or so delay did not slow Nadal down as he immediately broke Federer then held for 2-0. The trainer was out again for Federer but a frustrated-looking Federer shrugged him off. With Nadal in form and Federer reeling, it looked like an impossible task for Federer to get back in the match.

Nadal held for 3-1 and then in his next service game he had chances to go up 4-2. The break was got Federer back to level at 3-3 and Federer would never look back, putting together one of the best runs of his career winning the last five games of the match to take the victory, the title and an 18th Grand Slam.

“I had opportunities early on in the fifth, as well, to get back on even terms,” Federer said. “I could have been left disappointed there and accepted that fact. I kept on fighting. I kept on believing, like I did all match long today, that there was a possibility I could win this match.

“I think that’s what made me play my best tennis at the very end the match, which was actually surprising to me. I went through a little bit of a lull in the fourth and the beginning of the fifth set.”

Nadal, who was appearing in his first Grand Slam final since his 2014 French Open championship, said he gave all he had but Federer was too good in the end.

“I had some chances in the fifth with break up,” Nadal said. “But is true that after I had the break, he played very aggressive, hitting a lot of great shots. So was tough to hold the serve every time. I had the chance to keep holding the serve. If I hold that one, you never know. You are two games, just two games away. But I didn’t, so…

“Well, that’s it. I believe that he played super aggressive during the whole match. Tough chances to play the way I wanted to play. But still like this, I played, I think, with the right attitude, trying to do my things, fighting for every ball.”

The loss sets up Federer and Nadal for the rest of the season, and Rafa is now particularly excited for another deep French Open run.

“I cannot predict what’s going on in the future,” Nadal said. “That’s always the same thing. I just think that I am playing well. I just think that I worked hard to be where I am. I believe that playing like this, good things can happen. Can happen here in this surface, but especially can happen on clay.”

Federer was more shocked by what happened.

“We’re both on a comeback,” Federer said. “It would have been nice for both of us to win, but there’s no draws in tennis. It’s brutal sometimes.

“He should be happy. I would have been happy again to be in the finals,” he added. “I think this one will take more time to sink in. When I go back to Switzerland, I’ll think, Wow.

“The magnitude of this match is going to feel different. I can’t compare this one to any other one except for maybe the French Open in ’09. I waited for the French Open, I tried, I fought. I tried again and failed. Eventually I made it. This feels similar.”

Nadal still has a big lead in their head-to-head leading 23-12 and 6-3 in Slam finals (9-3 overall in Slams), but at 35 Federer showed he’s not done yet.

The title run by Federer was among his best, and for the first time he beat four Top 10 players and won three five-set matches en route to a Grand Slam championship.

He finished his 100th career Australian Open match and 5th title in Melbourne with 20 aces and 75 winners with 14 off a backhand side that may have never been better against Nadal.

“I’m out of words,” Federer said on court. “I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight. The comeback had been perfect as it was.”

And fittingly, the man who labeled the Australian Open the “Happy Slam” is the one who leaves the happiest.

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37 Comments for Federer Foils Nadal To Win 18th Grand Slam In 5-Set Australian Open Thriller

naderer Says:

As long as Federer avoids the backhand slice return, he’ll have a chance. Congrants to both.

skeezer Says:

He’ll have “a chance”? Lol… he had
more than that in that match!
“The title run by Federer was among his best, and for the first time he beat four Top 10 players and won three five-set matches en route to a Grand Slam championship”
PerFect summary 🎾

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Yes, Skeeze, I think both those things (the 4 top tenders and 3 5 setters) had not been done in many years.

Another thing that I don’t think has been mentioned is how ridiculous they looked wearing nearly identical outfits. Especially the matching pink socks and black shoes! They looked like a dance team. When they were together at the podium I thought they’d start line dancing or something. What the heck is Nike thinking giving them the same outfits?

skeezer Says:

What was compelling about this match, is that Fed attacked Rafa with his BH to his FH,. I mean WTF? It was friggin amazin, who woulda thought that would have worked? Most pundits were thinking the reverse would happen in success, Rafa’s FH to Feds BH. Go figure.

skeezer Says:

Have you noticed black socks have taken over? Tennis fashion has always been on the edge. Remember Agassi, blue jean shorta with hot
Pink leggins?

madmax Says:

By staff?

Where is SEAN?

Did anyone notice Rod Laver – wearing his trainers in his posh suit at the celebration ceremony?

Berghain Says:

Cool article

Yes, I thought there would be a proper write-up. Some content, there is a lot. Maybe everyone is on Holiday. Odd!
Trophy shoot- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdtCrecL3uE
Haha I think Fed pulled an all-nighter.

Renneil Says:

Federer at 35 just raised his game to an whole new level….Djokovic, Murray and the rest of the guys must raise their level now….

FedExpress Says:

“And it boosted his Grand Slam count to 18, tying him with women’s greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.”

why compare mens slam account with womens slam amount.

does it mean fed is on par with nava and evert and graf and serena are better thsn fed? Wth.

RZ Says:

This table from the ATP is kinda cool. Shows the leaders in the big titles (slams, masters, and year-end championship). Fed is back on top but I suspect that Novak gets back to the top in a few months. Rafa is not too far behind in 3rd. If you look at the fuller table, you’ll see that Andy is in 6th and my guess is that he’ll pass Agassi within the next year or two.


Daniel Says:

RZ, but big difference, is Fed has 24 between Slams and WTF, to
Djoko´s 17 and Nadal 14. That is the big difference. Together with the #1 ranking stats he outshines everybody.

He is top 2 in all major categories, except Masters where he is 3 and total titles where he is 3 shy of tying Lendl).

– Total Number 1 Weeks: 1st
– Year End #1: 2nd
– Slams: 1st
– WTF: 1st
– Masters: 3rd
– Total Titles: 3rd, soon to be 2nd (89 no Lendl´s 92)

Daniel Says:

Djoko can reach 40 Masters but if he keeps his Slam count at 12-9 (57,1%), the smallets of the other Big 3 (Fed´s at 18/28: 64,3% and Nadal 14/7: 66,67%) it won´t help his case much. He has to win more Slams, at least 2 more to tie Sampras and Nadal (if he doesn´t increase his tally).

RZ Says:

@Daniel – yep. But to me the main point is that we are lucky to be living in this golden era of men’s tennis.

madmax Says:

Daniel, Djoko could indeed surpass all of the players, being younger and likely more years on tour. He will be back to full strength soon enough.

Miles Says:

madmax – I really doubt that Novak will ever be as dominant again – even during his wonderful first half of the season last year, I felt he was finding it increasingly difficult to overcome his opponents.

Even more so than Rafa, I believe he’s pushed his body to extremes. Over the years, Rafa has taken time off, but Novak hasn’t and I think it’s caught up with him. He’s capable of adding to his majors tally, but I think he’ll do well to equal Rafa – indeed, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire before Fedal.

J-Kath Says:

I can’t quite understand the ATP top players chart – especially when one sees the percentages – but that said, I an not too well at the moment so assume my brain is equally as unhealthy as my body.

Anybody got an explanation for idiots? Thanks.

J-Kath Says:

My other question is why should it all be about GS’s?

J-Kath Says:

Also: What has Lendl got anything to do with current comparisons? Is this pedantic Daniel/Dan again?

J-Kath Says:

And why has Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and the other past heroes got anything to do with this list? The mind boggles.None of these guys are playing now….and unless you’re involved in the history of tennis, let’s leave these guys for a while –Please.

Daniel Says:

JK, what is wrong with you?! I am Daniel, never being another moniker here since I first started posting, back in 2005.

I just brought Lendl, because Fed is 3 titles away from surpassing him as the #2 all time title lead with 92, Fed current 89. Just it. another record where Federer is in top 3 leaderboard.

Don’t come with classical psychological projection on me what you probably do, post under different monikers. Peace out!

J-Kath Says:


I haven’t ever posted under different monikers – but what a good idea.

J-Kath Says:

I had switched off when I remembered I felt forced to change my moniker when a “Kath” /”Kathy” came on board which is when I changed it to J-Kath (the “J” stood for “Jock” i.e. Scottish) – I’m pretty disgusted with myself that my strict Presbyerian up-bringing still haunts me deep into my adulthood.

PS: I note your call for “Peace”….as long as you stop being so pedantic.

Daniel Says:

Honestly, did not understand what or when I said anything here that ofended you post Federer win. Go figure!
Used to like your posts, but if you want somebody to go after, be my guest. Nothing I can do about it.

Daniel Says:

Was re-reading an older thread. Now I get it! I replied that I agree with a post Dan made regarding rankings, where he mention that Murray is an “undeserving” #1.

I didn’t make myself clear that moment. When I said I agree with him is not with everything he wrote. I cheer Murray and thought he IS a well deserving #1 with what he accomplished and how he ended the year. If Olympics had points as in previous year, his margin would be even higher than Djoko last year and wouldn’t need the WTF victory in the last match.

What I agreed with in his post, is that rankings can shift and no player will have a huge point lead due to this AO result. No player will dominate and have the bulk of points of going deep in all Slams. As Djoko and Murray lost early, they would have to make finals in all remaining three Slams for their point difference be more than 5-6 k from 3rd place down.

Hope it clarifies for you and you stop this “pedantic” Dan/Daniel pursue!

Willow Says:

Thankyou Berghain ;-) ….

Bob Lewis Says:

Nadal is interesting to evaluate. He has lots of great achievements, but it still doesn’t feel as though he’s dominated the game the way other greats have. His wins are just so slanted towards clay overall. He falls short in weeks at #1. Don’t think he’s ever won b2b titles on a non-clay surface, could be wrong though. He’s never truly shouldered the burden of being the favorite outside of his clay. If he loses, he’s just a clay guy. No real pressure. Nice position to be in.

Two Wimby, two US, 1 Aus. Nothing wrong with those wins, but not anything that screams “greatest” either. The gap between Federer and him is larger than just the difference in slam count, don’t care what the media or so-called experts say. Novak has dominated the game more than Nadal has, too. One or two more French wins by Nadal won’t change my mind. Grab a few more at Wimby and US/Aus, then it’s debate.

Willow Says:

Take out clay, and Rafa would still have 5 GS, as many as Sharapovas won in her entire career, and almost as many as Becker and Edberg won in their entire careers, if we took out the HC surfaces Novak would have 4 GS, the point is we dont take out surfaces for any other player, yet we do it when it comes to Nadal for some reason, which IMO seems unfair ….

amit Says:

“Willow Says:

Take out clay, and Rafa would still have 5 GS, as many as Sharapovas won in her entire career, and almost as many as Becker and Edberg won in their entire careers, if we took out the HC surfaces Novak would have 4 GS, the point is we dont take out surfaces for any other player, yet we do it when it comes to Nadal for some reason, which IMO seems unfair ….

February 4th, 2017 at 2:22 am”


consideringthat wimby n fo were the oldest surfaces, here rafa has scored 11 GS!!! THATS RIDICULOUS!!! he far out weighs nole there and even beats fed handily.. if it were the older era,then rafa would have been the greatest witout any contest!!! rafa is unlucky to play at a time when the HCs are omnipresent!!!

to make things short, fed and rafa are best players ever!!! ;)

AndyMira Says:

@Bob Lewis…Why suddenly bring Rafa’s achievement all of a sudden?when EVERYONE praised Rog for his GREATEST achievement of all time??Why the need to degraded rafa for all that he’s already achieved in his career?2 wimby,2 USO,1 AO…Oh,Forgot to count his win in ATP masters and 500 on hardcourts as well?Btw…i think you’re already knew that rafa has not been blessed with a superhuman physical like Rog and Novak..when you injured so much,it’s hard to maintain the momentum let alone to continue to win..and that’s why he’s not “dominated the game the way other greats have”…And who says we rafa fans want to debate about anything with you??What he’s already achieved and gave to us his fans is sooooooo precious and we’re going to remember him as the most amazing warrior that has ever lived in tennis history!And guess what Bob,despite his constant injuries..he still can collect 14 slams!hey!!..who would have thunk!!..Not GREAT??Okayyy!!..

Giles Says:

AM. Well said. And who is Bob Lewis? Has he been on here before?
These guys go into a slump and as soon as their hero wins they come out of the woodwork to gloat. Sheeesh!!

AndyMira Says:

@Giles…he he..thanks!…I can’t stand if someone can’t/won’t appreciate what we have or had…Laver,Agassi,Sampras,Jimmy connors,borg,Roger,Novak..to name a few..all of them are not a clay specialist[except Borg] and of course win clay titles less than HC and grass[or win at all]..and why people never breath even a word[let alone belittled them] that they’re not greatest?Why this perception only applied to rafa?Did we ever heard that people say that Sampras or laver not GREAT because they’re only dominated on HC or grass?NEVER right?Not that i want them to say so..NO!!!I DESPISED so much this double standard!..EVERYBODY has their own greatness and speciality and why don’t we appreciate them like they’re deserved to instead of belittling others just because our hero just writes his name in tennis history books as THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME!

RZ Says:

@J-Kath – been traveling for work for a couple of days so I didn’t get a chance to follow-up on this threat. I had posted the link to the ATP table and it did include best player and, which I think is what Daniel was commenting on. The table shows the total wins in big tournaments – slams,year end championships, Masters 1000 – and the percentage of wins the players have in those touraments ( based on how many of those tournaments they have played, in other words if they skipped a tournament that wouldn’t be in the equation).

I was the one who brought up Sampras and Agassi who are on the historic table. I think as an Andy fan, it is important to note that the only players between him and the other members of the big four are these two greats.

Margot Says:

Goooo Girl!

Willow Says:

AndyMira well said ;-) ….

AndyMira Says:

@M and willow…he he thanks!..

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