Roger Federer defeats rival Rafael Nadal for 18th Grand Slam
Roger Federer did what some people, had a hard time believing he could, win another grand slam. Even more astonishing, Roger did this against his longtime nemesis Rafael Nadal. The same Nadal who had an overwhelming record against him (23-11 overall, 5-2 in grand slam finals). The same Nadal that many believed had a strong mental edge over Roger. However, all of that meant nothing as Roger proved that he is more than up to the task of getting back to the top after taking six months off. It was only fitting that he showed this against someone who was proclaimed to be his kryptonite. It was a classic match that many fans were salivating to see and it did not disappoint.
The match started off with Roger enforcing himself. Roger was as aggressive as he’d ever been against Nadal and it appeared that Rafa was still in recovery mode from that brutal four hour five set semifinal match he had against Grigor Dimitrov. Though Rafa in the end made the set close, Roger won 6-4.
In the second set, Rafa showed why he has 14 grand slams and immediately got the break early in the set and he held onto his serve to take the second set 6-3.
Roger and Rafa then traded the third and fourth set, with each appearing to change the momentum with every groundstroke, serve and service break they could muster. The match was truly a pendulum at this point, with the constant back and forth between the players. Just when it seemed Roger had control, Rafa would find some way to get the match back in his grips.
With Rafa winning the fourth set, it all came down to a final fifth set. It was anyone’s guess as to who would win the match. The fifth set started on a bit of a sour note, with Roger taking a seven-minute injury timeout to tend to his groin. This was a bit of controversial move because it is a well-known fact that some players use medical timeouts to throw their opponents off their game and use the time to reset themselves. As to whether that happened here is debatable.
When Roger did return to court, the timeout didn’t bother Nadal as got an early break. With a 2-0 led it appeared that Rafa was on his way to winning his 15th grand slam. But that was not to be the case. Roger not only fought to get back the back but he got an additional break that would allow him to serve for the championship. That he did, securing his 18th grand slam championship five tight sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
The respect each player has for each other was evident in their post-match interviews. Rafa stated “It was a great match and I think Roger probably deserved it a little more than me.” Roger had equally kind words stating “Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws in tennis but I would have been happy to accept one tonight and share it with Rafa.”
Like the ladies’ final, the real winners were the fans. With Roger and Rafa both being in their 30s, it is hard to guess how many times they will get to play in the finals of grand slams. This match did not disappoint and proved that the Roger-Rafa rivalry will forever be etched in the minds of tennis fans of all generations.