|Roger Federer quietly celebrates winning a point in Sunday’s Australian Open final.
(Photo / Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire)
Roger Federer affirmed his lofty perch as one of the best in tennis history on Sunday when he defeated Rafael Nadal in five sets to win the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne. In winning the championship, the 35-year old captured his 18th Grand Slam title, the most in men’s history. Nadal remained deadlocked with American Pete Sampras with 14 titles, good for second place on the all-time list.
The rivals alternated sets in the match with Federer holding on to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Nadal played a five-hour semifinal on Friday that narrowed the competitive and age advantages he held over Federer heading into the tournament. At 30, Nadal was seeded ninth at the Australian while Federer garnered the 17th seed. In winning, Federer became the first 17-seed to earn a Grand Slam title since Sampras accomplished the feat in 2002 at Flushing Meadows.
“Everybody says they work very hard, I did the same. I try really not to shout about it, because you’ve got some serious legends and [the] toughest guys in the game, like Rafa, here tonight,” Federer told the crowd following his victory. Due to a knee injury, the Australian Open was Federer’s first Grand Slam event, and just second tournament, since last year’s Wimbledon.