TENNIS • 10SBALLS • RICKY’S BEST ATP MATCHES OF 2017: NO. 2 IS FEDERER VS. NADAL AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Written by: on 13th December 2017
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Tennis Australian Open 2017
TENNIS • 10SBALLS • RICKY'S BEST ATP MATCHES OF 2017: NO. 2 IS FEDERER VS. NADAL AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

epa05759163 Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland is congratulated by Rafael Nadal (L) of Spain after winning their Men's Singles final match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 29 January 2017. EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO  |

Ricky’s best ATP matches of 2017: No. 2 is Federer vs. Nadal at the Australian Open

 

By Ricky Dimon

Over the past week, Ricky has been counting down his top 10 men’s matches of the year, in order from No. 10 all the way down to No. 1. It continues at No. 2, with an epic and historically momentous Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer triumphed in five sets for his 18th career Grand Slam title.

 

 

Australian Open final: Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Roger Federer of Switzerland in their Men’s Singles Final match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 29 January 2017. EPA/LYNN BO BO

In terms of overall significance, the 2017 Australian Open title was by far the biggest and in a sense best match of the year. Hands down. Case closed. In fact, It is arguably the most important on-court drama of the last decade–or more. Rafael Nadal was three games away from moving within two of Roger Federer on the all-time Grand Slam title list. Instead, Federer was three clear of his chief rival by the time it was over.

 

The showdown did not lack in quality, either. Actually, it was so good that Federer said at the ensuing trophy ceremony that he would have been happy if it had ended in a draw–or even in a loss.

 

This Aussie Open final was a close as any match could be without resulting in a tie, even though it did feature a marathon fifth set that as many recent Melbourne classics have done. Just nine fifth-set games were required to decide a winner in the three-hour and 37-minute battle, but it was a wild decider nonetheless.

 

Four relatively lopsided sets preceded the fifth, with the two legends taking turns gaining the upper hand. Federer took the first with a break at 3-3, after which he held his next two service games–losing only one total point in those two games. Nadal roared to 4-0 lead in the second and mostly cruised from there to level that match. Federer totally controlled the third; Nadal did similar work in the fourth.

 

Thus the stage was for a fifth, which did not last long enough for viewers’ liking but packed an unforgettable punch in its short existence.

 

Nadal delivered the first blow, but it was not enough to knock out the Swiss. Federer eventually answered with a break for 3-3, erasing an early 3-1 deficit. That began a title-clinching streak of five straight games in Federer’s favor. His second break of the set came in what has to be considered the single game of the year in its own right with Nadal serving at 3-4. It concluded with Federer forcing his opponent into an error thanks to a perfect cross-court forehand return of serve.

 

Like Federer did earlier in the decider, Nadal refused to go away quietly when pushed to the brink of defeat. The Spaniard led 15-40 for a shot at two break points, but Federer calmly eliminated those opportunities and soon capitalized on his second championship point with a forehand winner off the sideline that Nadal challenged unsuccessfully.

 

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Rafael Nadal of Spain during the finals of the Men’s Singles at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 29 January 2017. EPA/DEAN LEWINS

“I kept on fighting,” Federer noted. “I kept on believing–like I did all match long today–that there was a possibility I could win this match. I think that’s what made me play my best tennis at the very end.

 

“It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against [Nadal]. So it’s definitely very special. I said that also before the finals: if I were to win against Rafa, it would be super special and very sweet because I haven’t beaten him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now. Last time I guess was 2007 at Wimbledon in a five-setter. Now I was able to do it again.

 

“Like I said on the court, it would have been nice for both of us to win. But there’s no draws in tennis. It’s brutal sometimes.”

 

“I think [it was] a great match,” Nadal assessed. “I enjoyed to be part of it. I fought to try to have the trophy with me. I had some chances in the fifth with (a) break up. But (it) is true that after I had the break, he played very aggressive, hitting a lot of great shots. So (it) was tough to hold the serve every time.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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