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Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal to win Australian Open, 18th Grand Slam title

Federer broke his own record of 17 Grand Slams to win #18 today.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29:  A defeated Raphael Nadal of Spain reacts as Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates with the Trophy after winning in the Men's Final match against on day 14 of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
The two former No. 1s saw a close battle upto the final game before Federer beat his own record

World No 17 Roger Federer today played an inspired five-set final to beat arch-rival and World No 9 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The win gives Federer his first Grand Slam title in 5 years, since Wimbledon 2012, and his 18th Major overall.

Federer, who already held the all-time men’s record at 17 Majors, now goes one step further with 18. 

The first set went fairly evenly, with both players holding serve early on and playing some quickly combative tennis, but Federer took the early break of serve for a 5-3 lead. Although Nadal held in that set under pressure, Federer quickly closed out in the next game at 6-4.

Early on, Federer’s backhand looked strong, and although Nadal’s new MO has been to target his rivals’ backhands – as he has done so often with Federer in the future, the Swiss held on for the first.

The second set saw a different story, with Nadal attacking more as Federer’s unforced error count mounting significantly. That would give Nadal the set quickly at 6-3, with the Spanish former No. 1 steadying the boat at one set apiece.

From favouring his backhands, Federer shifted to equally employing some great placement on both backhand and forehand. Avoiding some of the more flamboyant shots he has become known for, as a result of the immense pressure of this match, Federer tightened the noose in the third. His cross-court movement looked to be in sublime form, and precise shot-making with strong footwork in this set kept Federer firmly in the driver’s seat all through.

He would take that set 6-1. 

If anyone thought that gave Federer the firmest momentum, Nadal wrested it back almost immediately. Aided by another few unforced errors from Federer, whose count was mounting already significantly, Nadal took a clinical 6-3 win in that set.

That ensured the match would go to a fifth set.

Despite running to a lead in the decider, Federer saw a significant fight back from the Spaniard, who refused to back down. Trailing only by a narrow margin in the fourth, Nadal engaged Federer in a number of epic rallies, the last one of the match 26 shots long.

Every time a championship point came up, a challenge followed. And finally, it was Roger Federer who took that final set 6-3, and with it a record eighteenth major title, watched on Rod Laver Arena by the iconic Rod Laver himself.

At the end of the match, Federer thanked not only his own team, but that of Rafa Nadal. 

“Rafa, please play for a few more years. Tennis needs you.”

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