In the last 12 years Roger, Rafa and Novak have played some of the best matches at Melbourne Park. The fact that these 3 have often been the top 3 seeds at the championship and tend to meet mostly during the semis or finals adds spice to the occasion.
In continuation with our wide coverage of the Australian Open, let’s bring you the 3 best finals where these 3 legends fought against each other in pursuit of the Norman Brookes championship trophy.
Australian Open 2009 Final: Nadal Beats Federer
Federer and Nadal had been contesting the Roland Grarros and Wimbledon finals each year since 2006.This was their 1st major final meeting on the hard courts. Rafa was the top seed and Roger the 2nd seed this time, unlike previous meetings. Federer also was in the pursuit to equal the record of 14 Grand Slam titles held by Pete Sampras while Nadal looked for his 1st hard court major success after triumphs at the French Open and Wimbledon.
The 1st set started by Roger leading by 2 breaks of serve. Nadal would however come back and win 5 back to back games thus clinching the 1st set. Federer’s response was immediate and swift. He clinched the 2nd set 6-3. The 3rd set went to the tie breaker and the gritty Spaniard emerged victorious to put himself one set away from his 1st hard court slam. Federer went to his ultra aggressive mode in the 4th set and clinched it 6 games to 3.
It was now a one set shootout for the Australian Open, The Swiss maestro however appeared to have gone out of fuel. He handed 2 breaks of serve to Rafa Nadal, who won the set, the match and the championship. The trophy presentation saw Roger break down and the gracious champion in Rafa Nadal again praising his opponent and showing a lot of humility. Rafa had now solidified his status as World Number 1 and an all court player at the helm of men’s tennis.
Australian Open 2012 Final: Djokovic Beats Nadal
This is the longest Grand Slam final ever played and several tennis experts even regard the match as the greatest tennis match ever played. Top seed Novak Djokovic and 2nd seed Rafa Nadal met in the 3rd successive Grand Slam final. Djokovic had already defeated Nadal at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011. He was looking to make it a hat trick whereas Rafa was determined to reverse the tide and end the losing streak of 7 consecutive matches against the Serb rival.
Nadal broke towards the closing stages of the 1st set and took an early 1st set lead this time unlike the last 2 Grand Slam finals between these 2 champions. Djokovic though would come roaring back. He raised the level and intensity of his game taking the 3rd and 4th set convincingly. The Serb who was the pre match favorite was now looking to get it done in 4 sets.
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When Novak broke the Nadal serve in the 4th set the match looked anything but over. However the Spanish bull broke back soon and took the set to a tie breaker. Nadal showed extreme resilience and determination in the tie breaker and won it 7 games to 5. The momentum was now with the Spaniard as the match went into the deciding 5th set.
The last set saw the clock cross the 5 hour mark and the play rise to impossible levels. Both men appeared exhausted but none was ready to give an inch. Nadal broke the Djokovic serve in the mid of the 5th set and suddenly a look of defeat appeared on the face of Novak Djokovic. That look would last just for few moments though as Djokovic rose from the ashes and broke back immediately.
The Serb would then break Rafael Nadal again and serve for the title. As the clock struck 5 hour and 53 minutes mark Novak Djokovic won himself the game, set and match. It was the final that is still remembered as the best ever played on Rod Laver arena. The fans were in awe of these 2 gladiators of tennis fighting hard for nearly 6 hours with breathtaking rallies.
Australian Open 2017 Finals: Federer Beats Nadal
Federer and Nadal looked all but done for much of 2016. They entered the 2017 Australian Open with not much expectations and an uncertain future. However the tournament saw many surprises in week 1 as top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic exited early. Roger and Rafa encountered some intense 5 set matches before landing to face each other in the final.
Federer had not beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam match since the 2007 Wimbledon final. He made his aggressive intentions clear early in the match and took the 1st set against his arch nemesis. The Spaniard launched a counterattack in the 2nd set and put himself on level terms again. .The 3rd and the 4th sets rolled to and fro between these two legends. It would now be the ultimate 5th set to decide the champion.
When Nadal broke in the 1st game of the 5th set, it appeared that history would repeat itself again at Rod Laver arena. The commentators began talking about the patterns of 2009 final being repeated. Federer this time however was on a mission to write a history of his own. He played what he later himself called as the best set of his career. The Swiss took the break back and then controlled the set through some aggressive and line licking forehands and backhands. He defeated Nadal and thus won the much elusive 18th Grand Slam title after almost 5 years of barren run. Federer then aged above 35 became one of the oldest Grand Slam winners in men’s tennis.