Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Federer Fires Back to Win First Grand Slam in Five Years

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Federer Fires Back to Win First Grand Slam in Five Years

Article excerpt

ROGER Federer finally clinched an 18th grand slam title by winning a five-set thriller against Rafael Nadal to become Australian Open champion, writes TOM ALLNUTT.

The pair produced one of the finest contests their rivalry has seen but it was the Swiss who prevailed, winning 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 38 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

It means Federer has secured his fifth Melbourne crown and a first grand slam success since Wimbledon in 2012.

Nadal twice came back from a set down, and then led by a break in the fifth, but Federer drew on all his powers of brilliance to win.

Federer is now the first man in history to win five or more times at three different major events and, with 18 triumphs, extends his record as the most successful male player.

His victory is also his first over Nadal at a grand slam since the Wimbledon final in 2007.

The 35-year-old's achievement is all the more remarkable given he arrived here having not played an official match since Wimbledon, after taking time off due to injury.

Federer had not expected to go past the fourth round but now he is the champion.

"I'm out of words," an emotional Federer said on court afterwards.

"I'd like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback.

"I'm happy for you. I would have been happy to lose too to be honest, the comeback was perfect as it was.

"Tennis is a tough sport. There are no draws but if there was going to be one tonight I would have been happy to share it with Rafa."

For Nadal, this is the third time he has lost in the Australian Open final, having won here once in 2009, but the 30-year-old has made a resurgence of his own and looks ready to return to his best.

The first set carried added significance given Federer had beaten Nadal only twice in 35 meetings after losing it and never at a grand slam.

A ringing mobile phone cut the tension and, after a slow start, Federer began to dial in too as three booming backhands gave him the break for 4-3 and he served out with an ace to move one set to the good. …

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