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Updated: 4 days 17 hours ago

Roger & Rafa: Every Match Ever Played

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 4:43pm

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have produced some of the most memorable matches of all-time during their historic rivalry. Nadal leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-12 and holds a 9-8 edge on hard courts. But Federer won their most recent battle.

Here is an in-depth look at all of their previous clashes:

2017 Australian Open final, Melbourne, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
For years, many tennis observers thought they'd never see this again: Federer and Nadal meeting in a Grand Slam final. The fans and analysts weren't being pessimistic, either. It had been three years since Nadal had won 2014 Roland Garros and almost five years since Federer hoisted the Wimbledon trophy in 2012. But here the all-time greats and friends were, proving the doubters wrong once more.

Federer had surprised even himself by reaching the Melbourne final. He was playing in his first tour-level event in more than six months after taking the second half of 2016 off because of a lingering knee injury. Nadal, too, had missed the last five weeks of the 2016 season to rest his left wrist. But it was like old times again in Melbourne, with the level of tennis high from the start of their final.

During the first four sets, the players peaked at different times, with Federer starting hot but Nadal answering. In the fifth set, though, both legends were near their apex, and it looked like Nadal would take this 35th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting as he broke to start the decider. The 35-year-old Federer, though, would make his comeback even more special.

The Swiss fell behind 1-3 in the fifth set but reeled off the next five games, including two service breaks, to beat Nadal and claim his fifth Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam crown in three hours and 38 minutes. The right-hander did it with his serve, 20 aces, and his backhand, which had been solid all tournament long and stood up to Nadal's topspin forehand as best as it ever had. Federer flattened out his one-hander and delivered several cross-court winners against Nadal, which forced the Spaniard to stay home and limited his ability to run around his backhand.

The two have now won a combined 32 Grand Slam titles. At 35 years and 174 days, Federer became the oldest Grand Slam champion since Ken Rosewall, who won three major titles in 1970 and ’71 after celebrating his 35th birthday.

2015 Swiss Indoors Basel final, Basel, hard, Federer d. Nadal 63 57 63
The long wait for one of the greatest rivalries of all time to be renewed finally ended, with Federer and Nadal drawn to clash for the ATP World Tour 500 series title in Basel. It had been 21 months since they last faced off on the hard courts of the Australian Open and both competitors were eager to notch another victory in the clash of titans. After more than two hours on court, it was Federer who claimed his sixth title of the season, seventh in his hometown and 88th of his career, clawing past his rival in a high-octane affair.

Predicated on an attacking mentality, both players looked to open the court and keep rallies short throughout. After splitting the first two sets, a Nadal double fault in the third game of the decider would give Federer a break chance to claim a potentially decisive break, but the Spaniard dispelled any such notion. He would win the battle, but the Swiss would win the war, grabbing the decisive break for 5-3 and serving it out a game later after two hours and three minutes on court. The former Basel ballboy out-aced Nadal 12-0 and struck 44 total winners. He converted on three of seven break points.

2014 Australian Open semi-final, Melbourne, hard, Nadal d. Federer 76(4) 63 63
Nadal and Federer had met on the same court exactly two years ago, when Nadal prevailed in four sets before losing out to Novak Djokovic in a near-six-hour finale. As they returned to Rod Laver Arena, it was with renewed hope for Federer that he might get his first Grand Slam win over Nadal since the 2007 Wimbledon final.

With Stefan Edberg in his corner and a larger racquet head paying dividends, Federer came into the semi-finals feeling confident on the back of impressive victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray. With Nadal also struggling with a troublesome blister on his left palm, would this be Federer’s chance to reach his 25th major final?

In short, no. Nadal produced an awesome display, punctuated with remarkable passing shots, to which Federer had no answer. While Nadal excelled, he needed to, to combat the high level of aggression from Federer. The Swiss did not relent in coming to the net, despite often being thwarted by Nadal's passing shots, and stepped in to hit over his backhand returns, instead of slicing them all.

But with Nadal looking to chase down Federer’s tally of 17 major titles, the Spaniard afforded Federer no mercy as he claimed the victory in two hours and 23 minutes, setting a final clash with Stanislas Wawrinka.

2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals semi-final, London, indoor hard, Nadal d. Federer 75 63
Federer had won all four of their previous encounters at the season finale, most recently in the 2010 title match at The O2, but Nadal defeated the six-time champion in straight sets to reach his 14th final of a remarkable year.

After three straight service breaks, Nadal closed out a hold to love with his eighth forehand winner to end the 43-minute first set. Federer, who needed to be aggressive, struck 11 winners and committed 15 unforced errors in a high-quality opener. In the second set, Federer committed a forehand error in the fifth game to give Nadal the break. Nadal tightened up his game and at 5-3, created one match point opportunity at 30/40. Federer serve and volleyed, but Nadal’s backhand return was low enough to get Federer into trouble. He hit a backhand volley long to end the 80-minute encounter.

2013 Western & Southern Open quarter-final, Cincinnati, hard, Nadal d. Federer 57 64 63
In arguably their most riveting encounter since their 2012 Australian Open semi-final, Nadal outlasted Federer after three sets of high quality tennis. The Spaniard needed five match points to close out the 32-year-old Swiss, extending his winning streak on hard courts in 2013 to 13-0 and moving one step closer to a 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.

Federer executed a highly aggressive game plan early on, which included topping many backhand returns and attacking the net with authority. He would capture the first set on a late break at 5-5 30/40, but Nadal would refuse to succumb to his rival, turning the tables late in the second set. As Federer’s unforced error count rose to 44, Nadal continued to apply pressure on his serve with deep angled returns with significant pace. The World No. 3 took an immediate lead in the third set, breaking for 2-0 and holding serve from there to the finish line. In a dramatic final game, Federer rallied from 0/40 and eventually saved four match points before Nadal rifled a forehand down the line to close it out.

Nadal improved to an overall record of 21-10 against Federer with the win, ending the five-time Cincinnati champ’s bid to repeat.

Federer vs Nadal:
Matches 21-30 | Matches 11-20 | Matches 1-10

Nadal: "Playing Like This, Good Things Can Happen"

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 4:22pm

It was a rivalry renewed for the 35th time and it more than lived up to the hype and expectations. Roger Federer edged Rafael Nadal in a rollercoaster five-set thriller for the Australian Open crown on Sunday, prevailing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and 37 minutes.

The victory was sweet for Federer, claiming another slice of history with an unprecedented 18th major title. For Nadal, his own opportunity to surge into the record books was denied.

The Spaniard was bidding to become the first player in the Open Era to capture all four Grand Slam titles on multiple occasions. But, speaking to the assembled media following the match, Nadal refused to view the defeat in a negative light. After concluding his 2016 ATP World Tour campaign early due to a wrist injury, he believes that the final run in Melbourne will propel him to even greater things in 2017.

"I feel happy," Nadal said. "I played a great quality of tennis during the whole month [in Brisbane and Melbourne]. That's great news for me. The only goal for me is keep going. I believe that if I have my body in the right conditions, I can have a great year because I feel that I am playing well.

"I cannot predict what's going on in the future. That's always the same thing. I just think that I am playing well. I worked hard to be where I am. I believe that playing like this, good things can happen. It can happen here on this surface. If I am able to play like this, to have matches like I did the other day, and recover well as I recovered, then the opponents don't get that many free points and I am playing solid from the baseline. If I made that happen, I think I can keep having success on hard courts, but on clay can be special."

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Nadal has many positives to take from a strong start to the season. The Spaniard entered Melbourne Park after a quarter-final finish at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp and proceeded to kick his game into another gear.

A pair of straight-set victories over former Top 20 players Florian Mayer and Marcos Baghdatis was followed by a gritty, five-set triumph over #NextGenATP star and 24th seed Alexander Zverev. Nadal rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to reach the Round of 16 and he was not done there. The Mallorca native recorded consecutive Top 10 wins on a hard court for the first time since the 2015 ATP Finals, downing Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic, before edging a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov in a pulsating semi-final encounter.

Nadal admits that reaching his first final in nearly 10 months has provided much-needed confidence in his game. Belief in his abilities at this stage of his career is paramount.

"Being honest, last year I felt great coming here, but not as well as this year," Nadal added. "I felt great. But I lost in the first round. This year I won an important match against Zverev in the third round. That's important. I won great matches against great players.

"I competed well against everybody. That's the most important thing for me. That makes me feel happy. Of course, winning an event like this is so important. For me, if I won that one, it would have been amazing. But the real thing is what makes me more happy, more than the titles, is going on the court and feeling that I can enjoy the sport.

"Today I am enjoying the sport. Last year I only had the chance to enjoy the sport between Indian Wells and Madrid, because in Madrid I got injured in the quarter-finals. That's the real feeling.

"At this moment in my career, more than titles, for sure if I am playing well, I believe that I am going to win titles. More than all these kinds of things is being healthy enough to work the way I need to work, to fight for the things I want to fight for. I'm going to keep trying to do that and to work the same way."

Nadal is scheduled to resume his 2017 ATP World Tour campaign next month at the 500 events in Rotterdam and Acapulco. He is making his first appearance at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament since 2009, where he continues his quest for his first hard-court crown since Doha 2014, and will be seeking a third title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, taking part in the Latin American Golden Swing for the fifth straight year. 

"I said before the tournament started that I felt that I was practising great. Then you need to do it in the matches and I did. I have great satisfaction. I cannot say that I am sad. I wanted to win, yes, but I am not very sad. I did all the things that I could. I worked a lot during all these months. I kept working and I competed well.

"I enjoyed the competition. I won against the best players in the world, and I competed well against everybody. That's the most important thing for me and that gives me confidence to keep playing and that's what I'm going to try."

Social Reacts To Federer's Triumph

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 3:07pm

Tennis fans, media and players worldwide were gripped as the 35th installment of the Roger FedererRafael Nadal rivalry saw the pair face off in a classic five-set battle in the Australian Open final on Sunday evening. See how they reacted on social media to what immediately became a trending storyline around the world.

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Worldwide Trending

Social Reaction

Fans React To Roger Federer's 2017 Australian Open Victory

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 2:15pm
Fans streaming out of Rod Laver Arena talk about the epic five-set final they witnessed between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the 2017 Australian Open.

Federer Tops Nadal In Epic For 18th Major Crown

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 1:22pm

He’s been a man on a mission in Melbourne the past two weeks and the dream came true for Roger Federer on Sunday evening as he toppled his great rival, Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final to win his 18th Grand Slam championship.

“I’m out of words,” said Federer, after receiving the trophy from Rod Laver. “I'd like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight. The comeback had been perfect as it was,” said the Swiss, who was playing his first tour-level event after a six-month injury lay-off.

All out aggression from Federer proved decisive as he defeated Nadal in a Grand Slam final for just the third time in nine contests. He had lost all three previous battles with the Spaniard at Melbourne Park – including a heartbreaker in the 2009 final – and had not beaten Nadal in a major since 2007. But Federer righted those wrongs with a sublime display on Rod Laver Arena Sunday night, marking his 100th match at the Australian Open in style.

It was an iconic contest and it deserved five sets as Federer prevailed in three hours and 37 minutes in an electric atmosphere on Rod Laver Arena, rallying from a break down in the fifth set to win the last five games. The tears of joy flowed freely for Federer as the electronic review ruled his forehand winner on match point to have caught the line.

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Tears of joy for the champ #Federer #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/t048S5Spcm

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017

 

It is Federer’s first major title in almost five years, since defeating Andy Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final. Since then, the Swiss has been forced to watch Novak Djokovic largely dominate the Grand Slams, losing to the Serbian in the 2014 Wimbledon title match and in 2015 in the Wimbledon and US Open finals.

It was remarkable feat for Federer and Nadal to meet across the net in another Grand Slam final – and their 35th battle overall. After their semi-final wins – five-setters against Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov respectively – they both told the story of being too hobbled to play an exhibition match at the opening of Nadal’s academy in Manacor in October, making do instead with sponge balls against junior players.

But sheer will and hard work saw them both find their best level and rise to the occasion in Melbourne, taking advantage of shock week one defeats for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – to Denis Istomin and Mischa Zverev – to bring about a nostalgic final for tennis enthusiasts.

Indeed, it was only the fifth occasion in the Open Era that a Grand Slam final has been contested by a pair of 30-somethings. The last time it happened was at the 2002 US Open, when 31-year-old Pete Sampras defeated 32-year-old Andre Agassi to win the title in what would be his final ever match.

At 35 years and 174 days, Federer is the oldest Grand Slam champion since Ken Rosewall, who won three major titles in 1970 and ’71 after celebrating his 35th birthday. But it must have seemed a long way off for the Basel native last July, when he was forced to announce that he would be missing the remainder of the 2016 season in order to fully repair his body after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery in February.

With wins over Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Wawrinka to reach the final, Federer is the second player - after Mats Wilander at 1982 Roland Garros - to win four Top 10 matches en route to a Grand Slam title in the Emirates ATP Rankings Era (since 1973). He is also the first player to win three five-setters en route to a Grand Slam title since Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros 2004.

He is the third man in history to win five Australian Open titles, adding to his victories in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Murray). At No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he is the lowest ranked Australian Open champion since No. 18 Thomas Johansson won the title in 2002.

But the Swiss right-hander, who spent 302 weeks atop the rankings, is now set to return to the Top 10 at No. 10 on Monday.

For Nadal, he has come a long way from crying in the car on the way back to the hotel after injury forced him out of Roland Garros before he could step on court for his third-round match. He would later call on his 2016 campaign after a second-round defeat in Shanghai in October, not able to continue any more with his wrist the way it was.  

The Spanish left-hander is now set to rise to No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after returning to his best to reach his 21st Grand Slam final (14-7 record). 

Peers/Kontinen Win Australian Open Doubles Crown

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 10:34am
Watch highlights as John Peers and Henri Kontinen defeat Bob and Mike Bryan to win their maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Photo: Getty Images. Video courtesy Tennis Australia

Cabal/Spears Win Mixed Doubles Crown

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 10:28am

Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Abigail Spears of the United States captured the Australian Open mixed doubles title on Sunday after they defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Sania Mirza of India 6-2, 6-4 in 64 minutes.

Cabal and Spears raced to a 4-0 lead, losing just six points. Although 2016 Roland Garros finalists Dodig and Mirza regrouped, winning the first three games of the second set, Cabal and Spears won five straight games from a 1-4 deficit for the title.

Cabal reached the 2011 French Open men’s doubles final (w/Eduardo Schwank) and Spears tasted success for the first time having finished runner-up with Santiago Gonzalez in the 2013 and 2014 US Open mixed doubles finals.

How It Happened: Federer Beats Nadal For Australian Open Title

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 9:21am

Roger Federer recovered from a 1-3 deficit in the fifth set against his great rival Rafael Nadal to capture his 18th Grand Slam championship crown and his fifth Australian Open title on Sunday night. Federer, the No. 17 seed, defeated ninth seed and 2009 winner Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and 38 minutes. Throughout, it left the capacity crowd on Rod Laver Arena on the edge of their seats.

The win marks Federer's first Grand Slam championship victory since he beat Andy Murray for the 2012 Wimbledon title. Federer is the first No. 17 seed to capture a Grand Slam championship crown since Pete Sampras, who clinched the 2002 US Open title in his final professional match. The Swiss superstar now 18-10 in major finals, while Nadal is 14-7 lifetime in finals on the biggest stages.

Federer hit 73 winners, including 20 aces, and won 76 per cent of his first service points for victory in three hours and 37 minutes. Nadal, who went 4/17 in break points won, committed 28 unforced errors – 29 fewer than Federer. The Swiss, who returned this year after a six-month injury lay-off, is now 12-23 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

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ATPWorldTour.com breaks down how the 2017 Australian Open final was won...

FIRST SET

The hyperbole surrounding a final between these two all-time greats did not appear to affect Nadal or Federer in the opening exchanges of their 35th meeting – and fourth on Melbourne soil. Predictably, each player centred their tactics on targeting backhand wings and opening up the court – yet through the first six games there were two love holds. The battle for baseline dominance reached fever pitch at 3-3, when Nadal failed to consistently hit his first serves into court and Federer seized the initiative courtesy of a forehand drive volley for two break points. The pressure mounted on Nadal, the longer the rally went on at 15/40. Ultimately, he struck a crosscourt backhand wide. The Rod Laver Arena, largely pro-Federer, erupted at the first service break of a high-quality opening. Federer consolidated the break with a love hold for a 5-3 advantage and later hit two aces to secure the 34-minute set.

Maestro on the move...

Clean machine #Federer takes command of the 1st set 6-4 v #Nadal. #AusOpen #Fedal pic.twitter.com/svRO3CD7oY

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017

SECOND SET

The level of play ratcheted up with Nadal winning six of the first seven points. Federer was drawn to the net by Nadal, whose groundstroke depth rushed the Swiss into error. Nadal earned his first service break when Federer mis-hit a forehand for a 2-0 lead, prior to a testing third game. Nadal led 30/0, but lost the next three points and was forced to save two break points as terrific athleticism and elasticity by 35-year-old Federer belied his age. Trailing 0-4, Federer loosened up and Nadal’s relentless groundstroke length faltered, momentarily. At 30/40, Nadal went all-out on a forehand down the line, but Federer was able to flick a forehand back and into an open court to break. Nadal held his nerve and with two straight love holds, he clinched the set when when Federer struck a forehand long. Game on.

Bull on the loose...

Those eye-watering groundstrokes come out to play as #Nadal charges through the 2nd set 6-3. #AusOpen #FedererNadal pic.twitter.com/xgDmZdHwKh

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017

THIRD SET

Federer got out of jail in the first game. Having led 40/0, Nadal won five straight points but was ultimately unable to convert three break point opportunities – as Federer struck an ace each time. Having edged through, Federer seized the momentum by breaking Nadal for a 2-0 lead. A sublime backhand half volley down the line at 30/30 did the damage, followed by a deep backhand return that Nadal attempted to run around to hit a forehand into an open court. The Spaniard ran out of time and the pressure further mounted when Federer went on to hold to love for 3-0. At this stage, Federer was zoning on his backhand, quick in his movement to his forehand, and was not allowing Nadal time to recover with a number of drive volley winners. Nadal continued to battle and came through a nine-minute game for 1-3, saving three break points, but emotion, frustration got the better of him and two games later he was broken to 30. Federer then saved two break points to complete a remarkable turnaround, after overcoming the pressure of the opening game, with a backhand drop volley winner. For the first time in his ninth Grand Slam final against Nadal, he led two sets to one.

#Federer takes the third set. #AusOpen #FedererNadal pic.twitter.com/eDCcWGSjon

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017

FOURTH SET

One mental lapse on an easy forehand at the start of the fourth game cost Federer dear, as Nadal soon wrestled away the momentum. At 15/40, Federer was drawn to the net to retrieve a low backhand but stretched and volleyed into the net. Nadal’s mental strength was undimmed a game later, when he produced a tremendous flicked crosscourt forehand winner – at full stretch – off a fine Federer backhand crosscourt angle for a 4-1 advantage. At the change of ends, Federer applauded after watching the big screen replay. Federer held for 3-5, forcing Nadal to close out the 40-minute set – which he did courtesy of a Federer backhand into the net. Nadal went into the decider knowing he’d won three of their previous five five-setters.

Would it even be a #FedererNadal clash if it didn't go to 5?

Things are about to go into overdrive as Rafa takes the 4th 6-3. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/2rEqvuJf0j

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2017

FIFTH SET

Federer returned after an off-court medical time out to serve first in the decider. The time lapse provided respite, but not for the Swiss who lost the first two points. Under pressure, Federer went after Nadal’s backhand and saved one break point, but a forehand error at 30/40 gifted Nadal the break. Nadal then saved three break points for a big hold that got his coach, Uncle Toni, out of his seat. But Federer, who received on-court treatment on his right thigh at the 1-2 change of ends, wasn’t finished. Federer kept applying the pressure, playing as close to the baseline as he could, and in the next game forced Nadal to rip a backhand crosscourt winner at break point. Although Nadal maintained his break advantage for a 3-1 lead, the match could turn on its head with a moment of brilliance. It did in the sixth game, with Federer levelling the score at 3-3 on his second break point chance when Nadal struck an in-out forehand wide. Nadal showcased terrific mental fortitude at 3-4 when he recovered from 0/40 and saved four break points, but Federer was relentlessly aggressive and controlled the baseline. At the fifth time of asking, the Swiss broke when Nadal was drawn out wide to hit a forehand into the net. With new balls, and some nerves, Federer went on to save two break points and close out his 100th match at Melbourne Park for an emotional - and memorable -  18th Grand Slam championship crown.

HE’S DONE IT!

Legends Preview Australian Open 2017 Final Federer Nadal

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 6:50pm
Aussie greats Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle, among others, look ahead to the 2017 Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Australian Open Final Preview: Rafa vs. Roger XXXV

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 5:59pm
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Feeling nostalgic? You're not alone. Less than 24 hours remain until Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal turn back the clock on Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open championship, a record ninth clash in a Grand Slam final. Nadal sought to describe his emotions ahead of the renewal of one of the greatest rivalries of all-time.

“[Our rivalry] is amazing for me and for tennis,” said Nadal. “It is the combination of two different styles that makes the matches really special. It is a different way to play tennis. I feel that this rivalry is not only in the tennis world. People from outside of our world talk about this and that's good for our sport. It is good that we are back here.

“It is special to play with Roger again in the final of a Grand Slam. I cannot lie. It is great. It is exciting for me and for both of us that we are still here and still fighting for important events. So that's important for us. That's very special.”

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Most Grand Slam Final Meetings (Open Era)

Match-up

Finals
H2H
Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal
9
Nadal leads 6-2
Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
7
Nadal leads 4-3
Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray
7
Djokovic leads 5-2
Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras
5
Sampras leads 4-1
Ivan Lendl vs. Mats Wilander 5
Wilander leads 3-2

"Having matched up for many years, they're older now, but still playing just great tennis," said Aussie great Rod Laver. "They know each other's game. Roger has improved his backhand and that would take away the advantage Nadal has with his forehand." 

Federer and Nadal both survived five-set semi-final thrillers, with the Swiss overcoming countryman Stan Wawrinka and the Spaniard denying a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov. It will be their second encounter in the final Down Under, following a four-hour and 23-minute epic in 2009, which saw Nadal prevail 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2. On Sunday, plenty will be at stake:

A win for Federer would see the No. 17 seed lift an unprecedented 18th major trophy and return to the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. He is looking to become the first player in history to win five or more titles at three different Grand Slam events and take sole ownership of third place on the Australian Open titles list. A win for Nadal would see the ninth seed close the gap on Federer with his 15th major title, moving past Pete Sampras into solo second place on the all-time list. More impressively, he would become the first man in the Open Era – and third in history (Emerson, Laver) – to win each of the four majors multiple times.

Meeting for the first time since October 2015 at the Swiss Indoors Basel, Nadal owns a 23-11 FedEx ATP Head2Head edge and is 14-7 in tour-level finals. Federer, however, has won three of their five hard-court title matches and enters as a four-time champion at Melbourne Park. But the numbers don’t tell the entire story.

With 35 titanic clashes over the last 13 years, Federer and Nadal have staked their claim as the greatest rivalry in sporting history. In tennis, time is a commodity. Careers don't last forever. It's not the longest-running rivalry of all-time, but it is arguably the most pervasive, transcending Federer and Nadal themselves and becoming a staple of modern culture.

From Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo in football to Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier in boxing, Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer in golf and Larry Bird-Magic Johnson in the NBA, there have been many legendary rivalries over the years, but few have captured the imagination quite like Roger vs. Rafa. They have made each other stronger, more influential figures both between the lines and away from the court.

Australian Open Final Appearances (Open Era)

Player

Finals
Final W-L
Roger Federer
6
4-1
Novak Djokovic
6
6-0
Stefan Edberg
5
2-3
Andy Murray
5
0-5
Rafael Nadal 4
1-2
Andre Agassi
4
4-0
Ivan Lendl
4 2-2
Mats Wilander
4
3-1

"I just think he's an incredible tennis player," said Federer. "He's got shots that no one has. When you have that, you are unique and special. Plus, he's got the grit. He's got the mental and physical ability to sustain a super high level of play for years and for hours and for weeks.

"He's proven that time and time again. He's come back from many injuries, you know, time and time again. He made it seem easy, and it's not. I think he's been tremendous for the game. I have a lot of respect for him on many levels."

Grand Slam Titles Won (All Time)

Player

Titles Won
Roger Federer
17
Rafael Nadal
14
Pete Sampras
14
Novak Djokovic
12
Roy Emerson
12
Bjorn Borg
11
Rod Laver
11

Effusive in their praise of one another, Federer and Nadal have established a special bond. During the offseason, as the Swiss was continuing to plot his comeback following a knee injury, he took time out to visit his rival’s hometown of Manacor for the launch of the Rafa Nadal Academy. As the tides begin to turn on the ATP World Tour, with a fresh crop of young talent and surging #NextGenATP stars fighting their way to the forefront, the days of Federer and Nadal ruling the tennis universe had been pushed aside, but they are legends of the game for a reason. Despite enduring their share of injuries and ailments in 2016, the Swiss and the Spaniard have immediately reclaimed their moments in the spotlight, proving that the old guard is here to stay.

Federer vs. Nadal: 35 Points To Consider

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 5:39pm

The newest layer to the epic rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be added on Sunday when they face off for the Australian Open title in Melbourne. To celebrate their 35th career meeting, here are 35 facts about these two legends of the sport.

35: Federer, 35, bids to become the second-oldest Slam champion in the Open Era (Rosewall: 1970 US Open, 1971 and 1972 Australian Open).

34: In their 34th and most recent meeting at 2015 Basel, Federer defeated Nadal for record 7th Basel title.

33: Federer snapped Nadal's 33-match unbeaten run on clay courts with a 6-4, 6-4 victory in the 2009 Madrid final.

32: During Nadal's career-best 32-match win streak in 2008, he beat Federer at Hamburg, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

31: Nadal was 31-0 at Roland Garros before his fourth-round loss in 2009 to Robin Soderling, who ultimately fell to Federer in the final seven days later.

30: Federer vs. Nadal is the fifth Grand Slam final in the Open Era to feature two players in their 30s, and the first since Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi at the 2002 US Open.

29: Federer won 29 straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches before falling to Nadal in the 2006 Monte-Carlo final.

28: Nadal has played and lost in 28 hard-court tournaments since his most recent hard-court title in Doha in January 2014.

27: Federer went 3-1 in Grand Slam finals as a 27 year old, while Nadal went 2-1 in Grand Slam finals at the same age.

26: Federer is 26-20 in five-set matches, including victories over Nadal for the 2005 Miami and 2007 Wimbledon titles.

25: Nadal became No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on July 25, 2005, and spent a record 160 consecutive weeks there before passing Federer for No. 1.

24: Federer went 24-0 in finals from Oct. 2003-Nov. 2005, including a comeback from two sets down against Nadal in the 2005 Miami final.

23: Nadal is 23-11 against Federer and 3-0 at the Australian Open, winning the 2009 final in five sets, their 2012 semi-final in four sets and 2014 semi-final in straight-sets.

22: Federer and Nadal have never met in Davis Cup, where Nadal is tied for the all-time record with 22 straight singles and doubles wins.

21: Nadal and Federer have played in 21 finals. Nadal leads 14-7, including wins at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

20: Federer has hit more than 20 aces twice in 34 matches against Nadal. He hit 24 in the 2007 Wimbledon final and 25 in their 2008 rematch.

19: Nadal is 19-8 in five-set matches, including wins over Federer for the 2006 Rome, 2008 Wimbledon and 2009 Australian Open titles.

18: Nadal overtook Federer at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Aug. 18, 2008, snapping the Swiss star’s 237-week run at the top.

17: No. 17 seed Federer looks to become the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champion since No. 44 Gaston Gaudio at 2004 Roland Garros.

16: Federer fell to No. 16 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Nov. 7, 2016 after 734 consecutive weeks (14+ years) inside the Top 10.

15: Federer hasn't won a title in 15 months, which would be longest drought ended by a Grand Slam championship since Gaston Gaudio at 2004 Roland Garros.

14: Nadal is tied with Pete Sampras at second on the all-time list with 14 Grand Slam men's singles titles (Federer has won 17).

13: In their first match 13 years ago, a 17-year-old Nadal stunned World No. 1 Federer 6-3, 6-3 in the third-round of Miami in 2004.

12: Nadal and Federer are contesting their 12th battle at a Grand Slam, which is the third-most in the Open Era (Federer/Djokovic 15, Nadal/Djokovic 13).

11: Federer has 11 wins over Nadal, only two of which have come since the end of the 2011 season (2012 Indian Wells, 2015 Basel).

10: If Federer wins his fifth Australian Open title, he will be No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday (No. 14 with a loss).

9: The last No. 9 seed to win a Grand Slam title was Jim Courier at 1991 Roland Garros. The last No. 17 seed was Pete Sampras at the 2002 US Open.

8: Nadal and Federer have met in eight Grand Slam finals and will extend their Open Era record with their ninth final on Sunday.

7: It's been seven years since Federer won his last Australian Open title and eight years since Nadal won his only Australian Open title.

6: Nadal is 6-0 against Federer at Grand Slams since the 2007 Wimbledon final (3-0 Australian Open, 2-0 Roland Garros, 1-0 Wimbledon)

5: Federer and Nadal have each lost five sets this fortnight. That’s the most for Federer en route to a Grand Slam final since 2009 Roland Garros and for Nadal since 2010 Wimbledon.

4: Federer is looking to become the first Grand Slam champion since Mats Wilander at 1982 Roland Garros to post four wins against Top 10 players.

3: Nadal is seeking to become the third player all-time and first in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam twice, joining Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.

2: Nadal is bidding to become just the third man to win Grand Slam titles in their teens, 20s & 30s, joining Ken Rosewall and Pete Sampras.

1: Both Federer and Nadal have spent significant amounts of time at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Federer spent a record 302 weeks at No. 1, while Nadal was No. 1 for 141 weeks (7th all-time).

Kontinen/Peers Capture Aussie Open Doubles Title

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 2:02pm

John Peers ended his home country's Australian Open title drought, as he and Henri Kontinen ousted six-time champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-5, 7-5 on Saturday at Melbourne Park

The reigning ATP Finals champions took the inside track in returning to The O2 in London, claiming their first Grand Slam title together and improving to an impressive 6-1 in tour-level finals. They dropped just one set en route to the title, edging the Bryans behind 12 aces and three breaks of serve after one hour and 14 minutes.

For Kontinen, it was his maiden major crown in his first final, while Peers lifted his first trophy in his third title match. He previously finished runner-up alongside Jamie Murray at Wimbledon 2015 and the US Open 2015.

"It is an amazing feeling," Peers, who became the first Australian doubles champion at Melbourne Park since Todd Woodbridge in 2001, said. "I was looking through some of the names on the trophy. To be alongside some of the guys and idols I looked up to in the past is something that hasn't sunk in yet. To be able to do that and be a part of what Australian legacy has been with tennis is something I was dreaming of as a child. To be able to do it and hopefully continue to do that is something I will continue to work towards.

"It's a humbling experience and something that I'll never take for granted because, to be able to get here is one step, but to be able to continue to do things in the game, you have to continue to work. You can never settle for what we've done. You've got to continue to work, improve our individual games, and the team will grow with that."

Both teams traded early breaks in the first set, before a sublime volleying display from Kontinen saw the Aussie-Finnish pair snatch the opener 7-5 on their second set point. Kontinen's fast hands at the net proved critical, claiming a pair of volley winners to seal the set after 39 minutes. In the second, neither team came under pressure until the 12th game, when the Bryans faced two match points on their serve. They turned aside the first, but Kontinen and Peers would not be denied their date with destiny. The Aussie struck a stunning lob winner to seal the championship.

"It definitely was one of my great shots on match points," said Peers. "To be able to do it on our second match point was really good. I just tried to play it as another point. Was lucky enough to pull it out, to be honest. It was really nice."

The partnership picked up where it left off in 2016, claiming their 16th win in 17 matches at the tour-level, dating back to their triumph at the Paris Masters last year. They also lifted trophies in Brisbane, Munich, Hamburg and to cap the season at The O2 in London.

"It's a pretty good start," Kontinen exclaimed. "Better than last year. I think we lost second round here last year. Obviously this already puts us in there going towards London and the end of the year. But we'll do the same thing as we did last year."

The Bryan brothers were seeking their 17th Grand Slam doubles title, which would have tied John Newcombe in first place on the all-time list. The Bryans, who own the most major crowns as a team, were also seeking a seventh win at the Australian Open. They previously tasted victory in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. It was their 10th final at Melbourne Park, having also reached the title match in 2004, 2005 and 2012.

For Kontinen, the victory was extra special, becoming the first Finnish player - man or woman - to claim a Grand Slam title in singles or doubles. He rises two spots to World No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, while Peers bumps three positions to World No. 6. The tandem improved their FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over the American twins to 3-0. They have yet to relinquish a set, also prevailing at the Paris Masters and ATP Finals last year.

.@henrikontinen and @johnwpeers are the men's doubles champions

Preview: Kontinen/Peers vs. Bryan/Bryan In Australian Open Doubles Final

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 9:54pm

The men’s doubles final on Saturday at the Australian Open features third seeds Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan looking for another title in Melbourne, while fourth seeds and reigning ATP Finals champions Henri Kontinen/John Peers seek their first Grand Slam title.

Kontinen/Peers lead their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry over the Bryans 2-0, with both straight-sets victories coming this past November at the Paris Masters and ATP Finals. The Finnish-Australian pair are arguably the most in-form doubles team at the moment, having won 15 of their past 16 matches dating back to Paris.

However, the Bryans have far more experience in Grand Slam championship matches. They are contesting their 30th Grand Slam final together (16-13), while Peers is playing his third and Kontinen his first. The American twins are competing in their 10th Australian Open doubles final and are seeking their seventh title (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013).

Should they prevail over Kontinen/Peers, the Bryans will equal the all-time Grand Slam championship doubles titles’ record, currently held by Australia’s John Newcombe, who won 17 team majors during his career. The American twins are tied with Roy Emerson and Todd Woodbridge with 16 titles.

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The Bryans survived a marathon quarter-final battle over ninth seeds Ivan Dodig/Marcel Granollers, but didn't drop a set in their other four matches. Kontinen/Peers needed three tie-breaks to get through No. 14 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah in the third round, but have convincingly won the rest of their matches this fortnight.

The winning team receives 2,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points and split $650,000, while the runners-up earn 1,200 Emirates ATP Rankings point and split $325,000.

Dimitrov: "I'm On The Right Path"

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 6:14pm

Despite a painful five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals on Friday, Grigor Dimitrov is choosing to focus on the positives from his two weeks in Melbourne.

The No. 15 seed opened the year by reaching his second Grand Slam semi-final and first since Wimbledon 2014. Although he was mere games away from becoming the first Bulgarian man or woman to reach a Grand Slam final, Dimitrov said he was pleased he could sustain his top level of play against the Spaniard for more than four hours.

“It's never easy to lose a match like that. I'm happy, though, with a lot of things. I'm going to stay positive and keep my head up high,” said Dimitrov. “Rafa deserves all the credit right now since he's such a fighter, such a competitor. It was an honour for me to play a match like that against him. It also shows me that I'm on the right path.”

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After a dip in form that saw him at No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Rankings this past July, Dimitrov turned his form around in the second half of 2016 and has truly come alive this season. He won his first 10 matches this year, starting off 2017 by scoring three consecutive Top 10 wins (Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori) to take the title in Brisbane. Dimitrov continued to take out higher-ranked opponents in Melbourne by scoring a convincing straight-sets victory over No. 11 seed David Goffin in the quarter-finals.

Now that he’s firmly back inside the Top 15, Dimitrov is determined not to get too down over his loss to Nadal and instead look to the long season ahead.

“The one thing that's going to be hard for me the first three or four days is to really absorb that, like, ‘Wow, I was so close,’” he admitted. “At the same time, I'm appreciating my run so far. It's been a great start to the year. It doesn't happen often that you come off from [winning] 10 matches in a row.

“I just don't want to put my head down for a second right now, especially when I'm feeling good,” he added. “I'm competing great. Physically, I'm getting there. Despite the disappointment, that's going to feed me for the upcoming events.”

It’s also clear that Dimitrov appreciates good tennis as much as any other fan of the sport. The Bulgarian said he would make it a point to watch Federer and Nadal add another layer to their historic rivalry in the championship match.

“Of course, everyone is going to see that final now, including me. I'm going to watch it for sure. It's super amazing and great for the sport,” said Dimitrov. “I just know that two of the greatest players of tennis are going to square off on Sunday and it's going to be an amazing match.”

Dimitrov's next ATP World Tour event will be in two weeks on home soil in Sofia.

Relive Federer Nadal First Meeting In Miami 2004

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 6:06pm
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal first met in 2004 in Miami. Who won the first clash in their storied rivalry? Watch epic Federer-Nadal matches at TennisTV.com, Grand Slam matches not available. Photo: Getty Images

Nadal Reflects On Renewing Federer Rivalry

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 5:18pm

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are adding yet another layer to their historic rivalry.

The 2009 Australian Open champion defeated No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov on Friday in an instant five-set semi-final classic, earning the right to face Federer for the title in Melbourne. After a difficult 2016 plagued by wrist issues that forced Nadal to cut his season short in October, he’s thrilled to be healthy again and playing the level of tennis he's capable of producing.

“I am a positive person. I never say never because I worked very hard to be where I am,” said Nadal. “I didn’t think about being where I am today. I always had the confidence that if I’m able to win some matches, then anything can happen. 

“Last year was tough. When you are playing very well and you have to [withdraw] from Roland Garros before going on court,” he admitted, referring to his left wrist injury that forced him to pull out of his third-round match in Paris. “I remember crying in the car going back to the hotel. That was a tough moment.”

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Nadal and Federer meet for the 35th time when they take the court on Sunday. The Spaniard leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-11 and has won all three of their previous matches in Melbourne, including the 2009 final that saw him prevail in five sets. Their last Australian Open meeting saw Nadal defeat the Swiss star in the 2014 semi-finals, but he said those previous victories will have no bearing on their latest match.

“That was a long time ago. It’s a different match, different moment for both of us,” said Nadal. “It’s special. We haven’t been in that situation for a while. I really don’t think about what happened in the past. I think the player who plays better is going to be the winner.”

Nadal noted that his rivalry with Federer has gone beyond the tennis world and become a global sporting interest. Part of the worldwide fascination with these two champions has to do with their friendly relationship off the court, which even saw Federer attend the opening of Nadal’s tennis academy this past October in his hometown of Manacor, Mallorca.

More: Federer Praises Rafa's Journey At Launch Of Nadal's Academy

The Spaniard was dealing with his wrist injury at the time and Federer was also continuing rehabbing from knee surgery in February. But three months later, their remarkable turnarounds in fortune will lead to one of them walking away with the winner’s trophy in Melbourne.

“In that moment, for sure we never thought we had the chance to be in a final again, and especially in the beginning of the year,” said Nadal. “Both of us worked very hard to be where we are. It’s great that we are going to have a chance again to enjoy a moment like this.”

Nadal Outlasts Dimitrov In Australian Open 2017 SF

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 4:54pm
Watch highlights as Rafael Nadal beats Grigor Dimitrov in a five-set thriller to set an Australian Open final clash with Roger Federer. Photo: Getty Images. Video Courtesy Tennis Australia.

Australian Open Doubles Final 2017 Preview

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 3:53pm
Henri Kontinen and John Peers line up in their first major final against Bob and Mike Bryan, who will contest their 30th Grand Slam final.

Social Reacts To Federer/Nadal Australian Open Final

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 3:44pm

It's true that once the Australian Open draw was made, there was a possibility for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to meet in the final. And while it was a possibility hardly whispered on social media, as the fortnight went on and the Swiss star beat Stan Wawrinka to reach the championship match, all eyes were on the Spaniard to make that possibility a reality. He did just that, defeating Grigor Dimitrov in five sets to set a 35th meeting with Federer, the trophy in Melbourne on the line.

Here's what social media had to say once a "Fedal" final came to fruition:

Fasten your seat belts RAFA vs ROGER final is back #AusOpen

— Juan Monaco (@picomonaco) January 27, 2017

Fedal

Nadal Edges Dimitrov In A Thriller

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 10:28am

It will be Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer in the Australian Open final after the Spaniard withstood a gritty performance from Grigor Dimitrov to prevail 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in an exhilarating contest on Friday night in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

It was an emotional victory for the 30-year-old Nadal, who is through to his first Grand Slam final since winning the 2014 Roland Garros crown – his 14th major triumph. It will be his fourth final appearance at Melbourne Park, having lifted the trophy in 2009, beating Federer in a dramatic five-set finale, and finished runner-up in 2012 (l. to Djokovic) and 2014 (l. to Wawrinka).

"It was a fantastic match. Very emotional," said Nadal. "I think Grigor played great. I played great. So was a great quality of tennis tonight. For me, it is amazing to be through to a final of a Grand Slam again here in Australia at the start of the year. Means a lot to me. I feel the love of the people here. They give me a lot of positive energy.

"I feel very happy to be part of this match. There was a moment in the fifth set that for sure I wanted to win. I said to myself, 'I am giving my best, I am playing very well. If I lose, that's it. Grigor deserves it, too.' I think both of us deserved to be in that final. It was a great fight. Finally was me. I feel lucky. I am very happy for that."

Sunday evening on Rod Laver Arena will mark the first Nadal-Federer contest since the 2015 Basel final and their 35th battle overall. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-11, winning five of their past six meetings. It will be the first time since the 2011 Roland Garros final, which Nadal won, that they have contested a Grand Slam championship.

 

#Fedal is happening!