(January 29, 2017) No. 17 seed Roger Federer defeated No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to win his fifth Australian Open title, his 18th major championship.
The 35-year-old Swiss rallied from 1-3 down in the final set, winning the last five straight games to close out the match. This was the first time that Federer had ever beaten the Spaniard at the Australian Open, losing three times before.
Winning a major as the 17th seed, equals 14-time major winner Pete Sampras, who won his last major as the 17th seed at the 2002 U. S. Open.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017
Federer also is the first to win a major, beating four Top Ten players along the way since 1982. He beat (10) Tomas Berdych in the third round, (5) Kei Nishikori in the fourth round, (4) Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals and (9) Rafael Nadal in the final.
Each of the first four sets swayed with whoever broke serve. Federer took a medical time out, off court after the fourth set. However in the fifth set Nadal took a 3-1 lead and never won another game in the match.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017
With the victory, Federer will move up to No. 10 in the world and the 30-year-old Nadal will climb to No. 6.
“For me it’s all about the comeback, about an epic match with Rafa again,” Federer said in his news conference. Doing it here in Australia, that I’m so thankful to Peter Carter and Tony Roche, and just people… I guess my popularity here, their support, that I can still do it at my age after not having won a slam for almost five years.
“That’s what I see. The last problem is the slam count. Honestly, it doesn’t matter.”
“I told myself to play free. 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.
“I had opportunities early on in the fifth, as well, to get back on even terms. 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.
“It was a long shot for both men reaching the final as both men were coming back to the tour from injuries. Federer was off the tour for six months to rehabilitate his knee, while Nadal took off the last few months due to a wrist injury.”
“I think have been a great match,” said Nadal. “I enjoy to be part of it. I fight to try to have the trophy with me. I had some chances in the fifth with break up.
“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, no?
“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, no? 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.
“Is true that probably remain a little bit of speed today compared to the last day in my legs probably, little bit. But that’s normal after what happened one day and a half ago.
“Like this I think I tried. I didn’t play bad. But is true was difficult to play a lot because he really went for the shots, almost for every shots.”
Federer was asked about his great rivalry with Nadal: “We go furthest back, you know. Novak also has been one of my biggest rivals. So have Roddick and Hewitt. I don’t like to leave anybody out, to be honest. But I’m sure I’ve left a couple out. They know who they are.
“But Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career. I think he made me a better player. Him and a couple more players have done the most to do that to me because the way his game stacks up with me, it’s a tricky one. I’ve said that openly. It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against him. So it’s definitely very special.
“I said that also before the finals: if I were to win against Rafa, it would be super special and very sweet because I haven’t beaten him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now. Last time I guess was 2007 at Wimbledon in a five-setter. Now I was able to do it again.
“We’re both on a comeback. Like I said on the court, 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, like I said on the court. 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”
“At the end of the day is another title, ” said Nadal. “There is a winner, there is a loser. In these kind of matches, anyone can”win. Being honest, in these kind of matches, I won a lot of times against him. Today he beat me. Just congratulate him. Is not more than another important title for him, another important two weeks for me. Even if didn’t finish the way that I wanted, have been an important two weeks for me.
“The only thing that I can do is congratulate him and go back home with very positive feelings for me.
Federer last won in Melbourne in 2010. The win sets for biggest gap between claiming Australian Open titles.”