Fed­erer rises again

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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

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