Roger Federer has ended a near five-year wait for an 18th grand slam title, as the Swiss man battled past old rival Rafael Nadal in a thrilling five-set final to win a fifth Australian Open title.
Ninth seed Nadal brilliantly came from behind twice to force a deciding set but there was no denying Federer his first major title since Wimbledon 2012, as the 35-year-old wrapped up a highly competitive 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 5-3 victory in three hours and 38 minutes.
It means Nadal’s wait for a 15th grand slam title and a first in three years goes on, as Federer’s fifth triumph in Melbourne means he has become the first man to win five or more titles at three different grand slam events.
Nadal held to love in the opening game of the match as strong serves in his first three service games saw him drop only two points in total, but Federer managed to break him down in the seventh game.
A backhand from the Swiss man had Nadal wrong-footed and a swinging forehand volley earned Federer’s two break points at 15-40 and a backhand error from the 30-year-old gave Federer the first break of the match, before he served out the opening set.
Nadal’s fight back began in the second game of the second set as Federer began to rack up the mistakes, spurning two break points before gifting another to his opponent for a 4-0 lead . There was no way back for Federer in this one as the Spaniard levelled up the match.
Federer managed to serve his way out of trouble in the opening game of the third to deny Nadal another break point and began to find his feet again as two crosscourt winners and a forehand winner down the line helped him break for a 2-0 lead.
The 35-year-old broke again in the sixth game to extend his lead when he stopped a rally to challenge a call and Hawkeye proved his decision was the right one, before serving out the set with a drop-volley winner to go back in front.
Nadal made the Swiss man pay for two forehand errors early in the fourth set and belted a forehand winner for the break to take a 3-1 lead. He soon made it 4-1 returning Federer’s backhand with a cross court winner as he forced the match into a deciding set.
It looked like Nadal’s was heading for a first major title since the 2014 French Open as he broke immediately in the opening game of the fifth, while the Swiss man won break points on Nadal’s next two service games but failed to convert them.
However, Federer dug deep and finally converted a sixth break point of the set to level 3-3 with a backhand winner and scored another crucial break in the eighth game winning a dramatic 26-stroke rally. with a crushing forehand.
Federer denied the ninth seed a late comeback as he recovered from 15-40 down to seal his 18th grand slam title with a forehand down the line but a challenge had the Swiss man waiting, before Hawkeye confirmed just Federer’s third victory in a tenth major final against Nadal.