Roger Federer raised his profile in the annals of tennis when he defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4; 3-6; 6-1; 3-6; 6-3 to win his fifth Australian Open and 18th grand slam title. In a battle of the old brigade, the outcome of the encounter could not be predicted, considering that Nadal had an edge of 23/11 record in their preceding career meetings.
Nadal held his serve in the first game of the second set and broke Federer to lead 2-0-. In the third game, the Spaniard faced two break points and needed a second advantage point to hold for a 3-0 lead. Serving to register on scoreboard, Federer lost the first three points, gained two but lost the game when he hit a forehand shot over the baseline.
Federer reduced the score when he took Nadal’s serve in the fifth game and hung in to win a long rally, and despite a double fault, he won the sixth game. Serving with new balls, Nadal did not drop a point in taking the seventh game. Two games later, Nadal won his service game and the set 6-3.
The first game of the third was stretched out. Federer was up 40-0. He charged net at 40-30 and missed the volley for deuce. He lost the advantage point three times but cancelled each with ace serves to the same spot. He took the game on the very first opportunity.
At 30-all in the second game, Federer drove a half-volley down the line for the game and a 2-0 lead that he extended by holding his serve. The fourth game was a marathon. Nadal faced three break points but fought back to deuce. He lost the first advantage but nullified with a 196km/h ace. He required three opportunities before he stepped up to drill a winner into an empty space, off a short return by Federer. Federer won his serve for the fifth game, and although Nadal led in points I the sixth, he lost and Federer had the break for 5-1 and he won the set 6-1.
In the fourth set, Nadal was on the roll and had a lead of five games to two. Federer reduced the tally when an ace earned him the advantage point he held. Serving for the set, Nadal got up to 40-0 on three consecutive service return errors by Federer.
At game point, a second serve was returned but a next routine backhand was netted by Federer. Nadal had the set 6-3. Immediately, Federer left for the locker room on a medical time out. Nadal remained on court; stretching and bouncing.
Nadal broke Federer in the opening game of the fifth set, but a battle for the second game ensued. Nadal was up 15-0 and had an easy ball mid-court but hit it into net. A net-cord deprived him of the next point, and when Federer hit a cross-court backhand winner for 30-40 he yelled. Nadal fought back to deuce while another net cord gave his opponent the advantage that he cancelled and then took the game for a 2-0 lead. Federer held his serve to reduce the gap and at the changeover, the medical trainer massaged his left thigh.
Nadal managed to extend the lead despite a double fault in the fourth game. Serving powerfully and accurately, Federer won the fifth game quickly. The first point of the sixth game recorded 30 shots and Federer got it. When Nadal netted a volley to go down 0-30, Federer yelled again. Nadal leveled at 30-all but an unsuccessful challenge led to 30-40. He deuced and had the advantage point but a net cord denied him game. Then Federer got the advantage with a backhand cross-court winner and took the game when Nadal’s trademark inside-out forehand missed the sideline.
Playing on the crest of that confidence, Federer opened the seventh game with an ace. He won the second point with a combination of serve and volley. Nadal missed service return to 40-0. Federer sealed the game with a second serve kicker that caught Nadal flat-footed.
Nadal lost the first two points in the eighth game and when he hit a double fault to 0-40, he battled to halt Federer’s streak of seven straight points. He reached deuce when a hard serve hit frame of Federer’s racket.
Nadal lost a 26-shot rally to lose the first advantage but a service winner down the middle gave him deuce. Federer got the next opportunity and won the game when a Nadal shot skimmed the net and landed out