THE stage is set for the greatest men’s showdown in the history of the Australian Open as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal put their tennis rivalry to one last test.
Tens of thousands of fans will flood Melbourne Park, and millions more will watch on around the world, as the pair go head to head in a clash many believed they would never see again.
Organisers yesterday took unprecedented measures to accommodate the global demand to see the pair in action.
For the first time in the event’s history, the match will be beamed live on to screens inside Margaret Court Arena, which will be opened to ground pass holders.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the match would be remembered for a long time. “It’s a gift to sport and entertainment, not just tennis,’’ he said. “The anticipation and excitement is only going to continue to build.’’
Scalpers continued to cash in on demand, flooding resale websites with overpriced seats. One centre court ticket was being offered with a staggering $26,450 price tag.
Meanwhile, greats of the game did their best to pick a winner.
Federer holds the record for the most grand slam tournament titles but Nadal has beaten the Swiss ace in 23 of their 34 encounters.
Rod Laver, the only man to accomplish two calendar-year Grand Slam sweeps, suspects Federer’s move to a bigger racquet, after enduring years of torment at the hands of Nadal’s whipping lefthanded forehand to his singlehanded backhand, will aid the Swiss.
“We saw that last night with Dimitrov. Federer has the ability probably to come in to the net a bit more and I’d like to see that being Federer’s game tomorrow night,” he