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Roger Federer claims 18th Slam

Roger Federer claims 18th SlamAfter a substantial gap two tennis legends, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, faced each other at the 2017 Australian Open finale, giving tennis fans a whole lot of show.

On a day when the match was decided by very fine margins, it was Federer who came out on top in an extremely tough five-setter. And although the points were short – average rallies lasting just 4.3 strokes – the quality of the tennis was unbelievable. It was a highly tactical game with each player probing for the other’s weaknesses and pouncing on millimetre small opportunities.

And as Federer himself stated after winning his 18th Grand Slam title, if tennis allowed draws he would have been more than happy to share the honours on this one with Rafa. A quick look at the match statistics tells us exactly why Federer felt that way. On first serve percentage, Rafa led Federer 73% to 62%. Again on winning percentage on second serves, Rafa had the lead with 56% to Federer’s 49%. In terms of unforced errors Rafa had just 28 to Federer’s 57. On net approaches, Rafa won 83% to Federer’s 73% although the former came to the net far less frequently than the latter.

But the areas where the Swiss maestro led were aces – 20 to 4, no surprises there – winners –73 to 35 – and winning percentage on first serves – 76% to 63%. In other words, Federer played more aggressively and took greater risks – hence the more number of winners and unforced errors. And given the fast courts at the Australian Open this year, this strategy paid off for him. The only way Rafa could have countered Federer’s go-for-broke strokeplay and the pace of the court is by running like crazy and putting up a formidable defensive wall at the baseline. But after playing a gruelling almost-five-hours five-setter semi-final with Grigor Dimitrov and having one day less than Federer to recover for the final, it is understandable why Rafa was a little heavy-footed.

But all credit to Federer – it’s one thing to play the conditions, quite another to successfully execute one’s plans. For Rafa, this tournament was a huge positive. Coming back after an injury lay-off last season, the Spaniard played some superb tennis, overcame some tough, younger opponents, and showed everyone that he is still a force to be reckoned with. Plus, there’s no denying that Rafa’s Australian Open run will give him huge confidence for the rest of the season. In fact, in the post-final press interaction, he admitted that if he continued playing like this and remained injury-free, special things could happen especially on his favourite clay courts.
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