The latest chapter in the storied rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal lived up to fans’ expectations as spectators in Melbourne Park and across the world saw a gladiatorial contest between two of the tennis’ greatest ever players. Federer prevailed in a thrilling contest, 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3, to claim his 18th Grand Slam title.
This was an instant classic. While nothing will top the amazing match these two played in the 2008 Wimbledon final, Sunday’s encounter was a treat to watch, featuring high-quality tennis, some unbelievable shots, and plenty of drama.
Federer and Nadal saved their best until last in a titanic fifth set that lasted over an hour. Nadal broke Federer early in the set, but the Swiss kept chipping away at Nadal’s service games, breaking back to level at 3-3 before dominating Nadal’s next service game to take a 5-3 lead.
When Federer served for the championship, Nadal ensured the drama was not over, forcing two break points which Federer saved with an ace and a brilliant forehand. There was more drama yet to come: on Federer’s second championship point, he whipped a cross-court forehand which seemed to have won the title, but Nadal challenged the call first.
HawkEye’s confirmation that the shot had landed in led to Federer erupting in unbridled joy as he celebrated arguably his greatest triumph, and certainly his unlikeliest.