Sports / Updates
Monday, 30 Jan 2017 14:15 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
Roger Federer said he enjoyed proving he could still win a Grand Slam after a dramatic Australian Open victory over Rafael Nadal thus, taking his Grand slam titles tally to 18. The 35 year-old Swiss won 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 to claim his fifth Melbourne title five years after his last major victory at Wimbledon and 10 years since he beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final. "For me it's all about the comeback, about an epic match with Rafa again. The last problem is the Slam count. Honestly, it doesn't matter. We're going to party like rock stars tonight. I can tell you that," he said.
The victory came in his first tournament back following six months out with a knee injury, which he picked up when running a bath for his children at last year's Australian Open although it appeared as though another Grand Slam opportunity was slipping away when Nadal took the fourth set and then moved 3-1 up in the decider. However, Federer came storming back with five games in a row and a brilliant display of attacking tennis.
"I told myself to play free, that's what we discussed with coaches Ivan Ljubicic and Severin Luthi before the matches. You play the ball, you don't play the opponent. Be free in your head, be free in your shots, go for it. The brave will be rewarded here. I didn't want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa. I think it was the right decision at the right time," he said.
The victory makes Federer the first man to win three of the four Grand Slam titles at least five times each but it was his lone victory at the French Open in 2009 that was in his thoughts on Sunday. "I can't compare this one to any other one except for maybe the French Open in '09' waited for the French Open, I tried, I fought. I tried again and failed. Eventually I made it. This feels similar," he said.
Heading into the tournament Nadal had not won a major since the 2014 French Open, the last time he had been past the quarter-final stage at a Grand Slam. "At the end of the day it's another title - there is a winner, there is a loser. In these kind of matches, anyone can win. Being honest, in these kind of matches, I won a lot of times against him. Today he beat me. It's not more than another important title for him, another important two weeks for me. Even if it didn't finish the way that I wanted, it's been an important two weeks for me. The only thing that I can do is congratulate him and go back home with very positive feelings for me," said the Spaniard.
The nine-time French Open champion is confident that his success on hard courts bodes well for a return to his beloved clay in the spring. "On clay I recover better than here, then the opponents don't get that many free points, and I am playing solid from the baseline. If I make that happen, I think I can keep having success in hard courts, but on clay can be special," Nadal added
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.