The re­turn of the king

Fed­erer wins 18th Grand Slam af­ter beat­ing Nadal in Aussie Open fi­nal for the ages

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - REUTERS

AN EMO­TIONAL Roger Fed­erer wiped away tears and urged Rafa Nadal to stay with him on the tour for years to come af­ter felling his great ri­val to win his fifth Aus­tralian Open yesterday.

Com­plet­ing a bril­liant come­back af­ter six months out of the game, the nerve-shred­ding 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win gave Fed­erer a long-awaited 18th Grand Slam ti­tle that many thought be­yond the 35-year-old Swiss.

Hav­ing en­dured a decade of Grand Slam heart­break against Spa­niard Nadal, 17th seed Fed­erer roared back from 3-1 down in the tense fi­nal set, rid­ing a wave of crowd sup­port at a heav­ing Rod Laver Arena, to mow through five straight games.

Fed­erer sealed the ti­tle with a fore­hand win­ner on the sec­ond cham­pi­onship point but had to en­dure a ner­vous wait as Nadal chal­lenged the line call.

The ball was good and Fed­erer jumped in the air, with tears welling up in his eyes, hav­ing won his first Grand Slam ti­tle since Wim­ble­don in 2012.

“I’d like to con­grat­u­late Rafa on an amaz­ing come­back,” Fed­erer said.

“I would have been happy to lose, too, to be hon­est, (my) come­back was per­fect as it was.

“Ten­nis is a tough sport, there are no draws but if there was go­ing to be one I would have been very happy to ac­cept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa.”

The win snapped Fed­erer’s sixgame los­ing streak to Nadal at the Grand Slams, with his last ma­jor win over the Spa­niard com­ing at the 2007 Wim­ble­don fi­nal.

“Ev­ery­body says they work very hard, I do the same,” said Fed­erer, who ar­rived in Aus­tralia full of doubts af­ter com­ing back from a knee in­jury.

“I wasn’t sure if I was go­ing to make it here but here I am and we made it.

“Stay on the tour, keep play­ing Rafa, please, ten­nis needs you, so thanks very much for ev­ery­thing you do.”

Left-han­der Nadal, also re­turn­ing from in­jury this year, showed sus­tained pe­ri­ods of his best from the base­line but was just un­able to stay with his ri­val in the gut-wrench­ing drama of the deciding set.

Nadal, the 2009 cham­pion, was typ­i­cally gra­cious.

“Con­grats to Roger, just amaz­ing the way he’s play­ing af­ter so long away from the tour,” the 30-year-old said.

“It’s been a great month for me; I worked a lot to get where I am to­day.

“It was a great match and I think Roger prob­a­bly de­served it CROWN­ING ACHIEVE­MENT: Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the Aus­tralian Open af­ter beat­ing Spain’s Rafael Nadal yesterday to claim his 18th Grand Slam ti­tle at the age of 35. a lit­tle more than me. I will keep on fight­ing.”

It was the Swiss who made the first break­through con­vert­ing the first break point of the match with a fore­hand to go 5-4 up.

That was enough to take the open­ing set but Nadal was all over his op­po­nent’s serve at the start of the sec­ond with two Fed­erer back­hands into the net giv­ing the Spa­niard a 2-0 lead.

Four big fore­hands gave the Swiss a break back but Nadal held firm to serve out the set and Fed­erer needed three aces to save three break points in a 10-minute game at the start of the third.

The mo­men­tum had swung, though, and Fed­erer stepped up a gear with some bril­liant shot-mak­ing al­low­ing him to rat­tle off the next two games and Nadal left scram­bling to fend off a sec­ond break in a marathon fourth game.

He was un­able to re­peat the feat in the sixth game and Fed­erer, his cross­court back­hand caus­ing all sorts of prob­lems, saved a cou­ple of break points to se­cure a two sets to one lead with a drop vol­ley.

The pen­du­lum had not fin­ished swing­ing yet, how­ever, and Nadal broke for 3-1 in the fourth when Fed­erer net­ted a back­hand vol­ley and held un­der un­re­lent­ing pres­sure in the next game with a bril­liant cross­court fore­hand win­ner at full stretch.

Nadal again closed out the set and Fed­erer took a med­i­cal time­out be­fore the start of the de­cider, re­turn­ing to court only to give up his first ser­vice game.

Fed­erer was not pre­pared to give up eas­ily and put the set back on serve at 3-3 when Nadal sent a rasp­ing fore­hand cen­time­tres wide on his sixth break point.

He needed an­other five break points on Nadal’s next ser­vice game be­fore the Spa­niard fi­nally cracked and Nadal was still bat­tling away when Fed­erer fi­nally sealed the deal. the Ti­tans.

Klein­veldt fin­ished with fig­ures of 5/45 from 18 overs and the rest of the Co­bras at­tack sup­ported him won­der­fully keep­ing the Ti­tans on the back­foot through­out.

The 38 runs needed for vic­tory were com­fort­ably knocked off with Sti­aan van Zyl pro­duc­ing a high­light smash­ing a mas­sive six off a dis­be­liev­ing David Wiese.

The Knights’ win in Bloem­fontein against the War­riors sees them as­sume con­trol of the com­pe­ti­tion, but they play the Co­bras next and the con­fi­dence the Cape side gained with this win will make that a bruis­ing con­test in Paarl, start­ing on Thurs­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.