Australian Open Recap: Federer and Williams Further Cement Their Place in HistoryRoger Federer’s last match was on Friday, July 8th, 2016 where he was dealt a devastating blow by Canada’s Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon Semi-final. His loss, while already surprising, marked the last time he would play in 2016. Nearly 6 months later, Federer stunned the world by winning the Australian Open, a grand slam, for his first tournament back.
With Federer’s win, it added an 18th Grand Slam to his expansive collection of trophies, only further cementing his title of “Greatest of all time.” Former World Number 1 Andy Roddick said, “I think it could be the most historically significant match ever,” which just may be true. Federer was at 17 Slams before and Nadal was at 14; if Federer won, it would only further distance him from Nadal (who is tied for the second most Slams of all time) and cement his place in tennis history.
However, if Nadal won, it would be 17-15 with Federer leading, but Nadal’s favorite and best tournament, the French Open, is coming in just 5 months which could make it 17-16.
Equally as stunning was Serena Williams win in Australia. Williams collected her 23rd Grand Slam, placing her only behind Australia’s Margaret Court’s existing record of 24 Grand Slams. Serena completely dominated the tournament. At 35 years old, Serena only won one Slam last year and lost her number 1 ranking, indicating to many she may be ready to retire.
However, Serena did just the opposite. She did not lose a set the entire tournament dispatching her opponents left and right and taking down 3 seeded players, including her sister, Venus Williams, in the final 6-4, 6-4. This victory placed her, once again, at World Number 1.
Federer, also at 35 years, is one of the oldest players, came into the tournament not expecting many things. He had been dealt many losses by the younger, faster, and fitter competitors of the sport like Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Novak Djokovic, who, together, have won every Grand Slam since 2014.
Additionally, Federer’s last Grand Slam tournament came at Wimbledon in 2012. However, with early defeats of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the respective World Number 1 and 2, Federer’s dreams of an 18th Slam became a reality.
After the first two rounds which he won easily, Federer, ranked 17th in the world, faced Tomas Berdych, ranked 10th in the world. After dismantling him in straight sets, Federer knew he would have to step up his game to fend off World Number 5 Kei Nishikori. In a thrilling, five-set match, Federer clinched the victory with a 6-3 win in the final set.
He then breezed through the quarter final but faced his friend Stan Wawrinka in the Semi-final. Wawrinka, now a three-time Grand Slam winner was not to be trifled with. Federer seemed to be breezing through the match after getting up 7-5, 6-3, but lost the next two sets 1-6, 4-6. Again, he clinched the victory with a 6-3 win in the fifth set.
The final was a match for the ages and one that tennis fanatics drooled over all across the world. The “dream final” was between two legends, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and may very well be the last time they play each other in a final at the Grand Slam level. Leading into the match, Nadal led Federer 23-11 after meeting 34 times, but Federer won their last match two years ago.
However, Nadal was 3-0 against Federer at the Australian Open and had won every match at the grand Slam level since Wimbledon in 2007. Many expected Federer to “choke,” or play cautiously, but Federer did just the opposite. Playing a much more aggressive match and took down Nadal in five sets in 3 hours 38 minutes.
Federer fired down 20 aces, 73 winners, and won 29 net points as opposed to Nadal’s 4 aces, 35 winners, and 10 net points. Although Federer only won 11 points more than Nadal in total, he played stronger when it counted. Such was the case in the fifth set were Nadal led 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 3-1 and appeared to have a solid lead in the match. But Federer came roaring back and played with a renewed sense of spirit winning 5 consecutive games to come back 6-3, once again, in the final sense.
This thrilling victory propelled Federer back into the top 10, while Nadal moved up to World Number 6 after the victory. Federer eyes both the World Number 1 spot and another Grand Slam as he looks forward to the 2017 Season with an early victory and after playing some of his best tennis.
Federer’s win was his first victory against Nadal off of the grass courts at Wimbledon and it clearly meant a lot to him, saying, “We made it, and we’re going to be partying like rock stars tonight, I can tell you that.” Both Federer and Serena have reason to partying which each of them raking in 2.8 million dollars for their efforts.
Although Federer’s win denied Nadal a feasible chance at breaking his record, it was a display of great tennis and, because he refuses to retire, gives fans around the world the hope of another great match between the tennis’s greatest two giants.
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