For the first time since 2010, Roger Federer has won the Australian Open, besting long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the finals in Melbourne on Sunday. Federer won a closely contested five-set showdown, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
For Federer, it’s his fifth Australian Open title and his 18th Grand Slam singles title in total. At 35 years old, it’s the first Grand Slam title for him since he won Wimbledon in 2012, and getting the win over a rival like Nadal is huge.
Nadal entered the Australian Open as the ninth seed while Federer was the 17th seed. Both players were not expected to win, with top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic severely out-performing them in 2016. But both were incredibly sharp throughout the year’s first Grand Slam, though in the end it was Federer who came out on top.
The first set was a fierce back-and-forth for the first few service games. Both players held their serves until the match was sitting at 3-3 in the first set. That’s when Federer turned it up, and he ended up at 40-15 on Nadal’s serve, and his shot placement was second to none, giving him the first break of the match to go up 4-3.
From there he held serve, but Nadal also held, setting Federer up to serve for the first set at 5-4. Federer earned a double set point opportunity and then served up a beautiful ace to take the set.
The second set started with a Nadal hold, and then he immediately broke Federer to go up in the frame. Federer found himself in a 0-30 hole in that second game, but fought back all the way to deuce. In the end, Nadal took the point though, and and after holding and breaking Federer again, he was firmly in control of the second. Federer, down 4-0, did fight back and broke Nadal, however. But he was unable to keep it up, and Nadal ultimately took the second set at 6-3.
The third set went by quickly, and it was a lot like the second, but in favor of Federer as opposed to Nadal. Federer dominated the set, breaking Nadal twice and fighting off five break points in the set. He won 82 percent of his first serves in the set, and took it at 6-1.
In the fourth set, both held serve and then Federer found himself down fighting off multiple break points from Nadal. He was unable to actually fight them off and Nadal returned incredibly well, taking the game and a 3-1 lead in the fourth. Ultimately, Nadal held from there and took the fourth set, forcing a fifth and final frame.
The fifth set started with Nadal scoring a break on Federer. But Federer fought right back and had a break point opportunity of his own. Unfortunately, he was unable to seal it and Nadal hit a couple winners to go up 2-0 in the final set. Both held a couple times from there, and then it was Federer threatening a break.
Nadal fought off the first break point attempt but on his second try, Federer hit a shot across the court just on the line, a beautiful shot that put the set back on serve. And then Federer went ahead and broke Nadal, setting up a 5-3 situation with him serving for the win.
Nadal took the first point on Federer’s serve, and then took the second when Federer sent a backhand down the line, but just wide. It was an unforced error, one of the biggest of the match. Federer served up an ace to make it 30-15, an ace of 122 miles per hour at that. But Nadal set up a double break opportunity by going up 40-15. Another ace from Federer made it 40-30 Nadal. Federer hit a mean forehand off of Nadal’s return on the next point to tie it up at deuce.
Nadal hit a return wide and Federer had the advantage for championship point. They called a serve out but a challenge revealed it was in, so Federer kept ahead. His next serve went in but his return off Nadal’s return went long to go back to deuce. Yet another ace from Federer gave him a second shot at championship point. He was able to hit a forehand across the outside line to seal the championship win.
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