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Australian Open Final: Federer conquers Nadal to lift 18th Grand Slam

Is there another who can defy father time like the Swiss maestro does?

SNS | New Delhi |

Roger Federer lifted his 18th Grand Slam in dramatic fashion on Sunday, besting old-foe Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a dream Australian Open final which had commentators and fans swooning in what might just be the final meeting between the superstars at the highest level of the sport.

Nobody could have predicted that these ‘golden oldies’ would be contesting for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup at the Rod Laver Arena prior to the tournament, yet here they were, giving millions of fans around the globe a serious case of major nostalgia in a match that lasted three hours and 37 minutes.

As the younger ones, who were seeded much higher and expected to win the tournament, (the Djokovic’s and Murray's) fell, these two titans proved that age is just a number as they battled their way into what was an epic showdown.
And epic it was. Viewers were transported back to late 2000s, when the duo dominated men's tennis like no other.
Federer stamped his authority early on in the match as he looked to stretch his own record of winning an 18th Major title, breaking Nadal in the seventh game to lead the match for the first time.

While he couldn't break his nemesis again, Federer held his own serve extremely well to finish the set in a relatively quick 34 minutes and gain the psychological advantage in the process.

And as expected, the warrior Nadal came back in a fashion like only he can, breaking Federer twice to wrap up the second set 6-3 in his favour to come roaring back into the tie.

Federer, who came to form after demolishing Tomas Berdych in the fourth round, before being stretched by Kei Nishikroi and Stanislas Wawrinka in subsequent matches, looked fresh as ever but so did his opponent, who overcame Grigor Dimitrov in a now-classic five-set semifinal on Friday.

Nadal, looking for his second Australian Open title since beating Federer in the 2009 final, had not won a major since the 2014 French Open. He didn’t play like a ninth-seed, rather like a man who has won 14 Grand Slams as he refused to give up despite losing the third set 1-6.

Rod Laver, the great Australian champion after whom the stadium where these two modern-day greats was watching on and more than once, was forced to his feet on more than one occasion, such was the quality of tennis displayed in a taut final that had everyone guessing till the final point.

The fact that Nadal won just one game in the third set would have broken most players, but another statistic showed that that it hadn't been all Federer’s way, as the set lasted an exhausting 46 minutes with Nadal stretching out almost every point.

That gave him hope the match wasn't lost yet and he came storming back in the fourth set, taking it 6-3 with Federer guilty of some shocking misses, especially on his forehand. Nadal took due advantage, forcing the game into a deciding fifth set.

And what a final set it was.

Nadal broke Federer in the first game itself and at that point, even the biggest Federer supporter would have ceded defeat. The 35-year-old, howver, came back in stunning fashion, breaking Nadal to get back in the tie to keep his hopes of stretching his all-time record alive. He then broke Nadal in his next service game as the momentum tellingly shifted in his favour.

Even at 5-3 up and serving for the set, Nadal didn't make it easy for Federer, who was down two break points but a final twist in the tale was not to be as the Swiss legend somehow recovered his composure to see out the match.

Jumping with pure joy like a 10-year-old who had just won his first tennis match, Federer’s childlike delight was understandable considering the long injury layoff he has been forced to undergo in the past couple of months.

And regardless of how the rest of the 2017 season unfolds, there is no doubting this is the greatest rivalry tennis has witnessed and Roger Federer truly is, the ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all time).