Federer rises again
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY: Roger Federer of Switzerland proudly holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup yesterday after claiming the Australian Open – his 18th Grand Slam - on Sunday. MELBOURNE: In his darkest moments last year, when he doubted if he would ever get back to full fitness following his knee injury, Roger Federer clung on to one thought – he still had the game to maybe sneak another Grand Slam title. He was right. Federer, who missed the Rio Olympics and US Open last year while he recovered, outlasted Rafa Nadal in five sets on Sunday to clinch his 18th major title, four and half years after his last.
“There’s never a guarantee but I was always positive,” the 35-year-old said of his victory at Melbourne Park.
“It was about staying calm and believing the work’s paying off and that the variety I have in my game maybe allows me to maybe sneak in one or a couple.”
Federer said his belief was also based on the fact that until his injury, he was still competing well, reaching two Grand Slam finals in 2015 and two semi-finals in 2016.
“If you look back at my results in 2016, and especially in 2015, I think I played some really good tennis and some good attacking tennis,” he said.
“Honestly, I believed I could do it, the question was how’s Novak (Djokovic) going to play, how’s Andy (Murray) going to play, Rafa and everybody.
“I knew it was going to be hard because they’re not getting any worse and I am getting older, so I don’t have much time.”
With Murray and Djokovic both going out before the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, Federer took his chance, beating Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and then Nadal.
Federer, who had promised to “party like rock stars” after the victory was bleary eyed when he turned up to the champions’ photo shoot in Melbourne yesterday.
Federer climbed to 10th in the rankings after his win and added it was his self-belief when he had been trailling 3-1 in the final set that had helped him to victory.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m all in’,” he said. “I still had the mindset that I had nothing to lose.
“I think I was able to shuffle all those things around in my head and believe until the very end I could actually turn it around.”
Universal praise has been heaped on Federer and Nadal after the two veterans turned back the clock in the final.
Sprint star Usain Bolt, golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former and retired tennis players such as Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick were among those hailing the two stars. “Congrats Roger Federer,” the eight-time Olympic sprint champ Bolt tweeted, while the 77-year-old Nicklaus, tweeted a picture of himself and Federer, pleading: “As a huge fan of tennis and you, don’t stop there.”
Federer seemingly doesn’t plan to hang up his racquet which was also rated good news by Del Potro. “Thank you both, don’t you ever quit tennis!! GRANDEEE ROGER. So inspiring!!” the Argentine tweeted.
Former US Open champion Roddick found kind words for both finalists, saying “can’t believe what I watched” and naming Nadal “one of the classiest champions I’ve ever known.” – Reuters/dpa