Nadal wins the Aussie Open!

February 1, 2009 in Tennis by pacejmiller

nadal

Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in 5 sets in the 2009 Australian Open Final to earn his 6th Grand Slam

I couldn’t resist my first tennis post after just watching the final of the Australian Open, in which world no. 1 Spaniard Rafael Nadal downed world no. 2 Swiss maestro Roger Federer in 5 stunning sets – 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2. 

With the win, Rafa earned his 6th career Grand Slam trophy, his first Australian Open title, and now has Grand Slam wins on each of the surfances (clay, grass and hard courts).  Roger, on the other hand, missed out on his first chance since winning the US Open last year to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam wins.  He also fell to 13-5 in Grand Slam finals, all of his 5 losses coming against Rafa.

I kind of felt sorry for both players after the match (both were in tears).  I felt sorry for Federer because you can see just how much he wanted this one.  It was another championship where he played his heart out but couldn’t get the win against his younger and fiercer opponent.  It must kill to see the same guy thwart you every time – first on clay, then his favourite surface grass, and now even on hard courts.  At age 27, he still has plenty more chances, but each additional one that slips away hurts a little bit more.  On the other hand, I felt sorry for Nadal too.  He was the winner and yet the fans were clearly on Federer’s side.  Roger got the bigger cheers.  All the commentators on TV and radio could talk about was how Federer lost in his quest for no. 14, not Nadal’s amazing 6th Grand Slam victory at age 22 and the possibility that HE may be the one capable of winning the Grand Slam in a calendar year.

Seriously, at this point in time, you could argue that Nadal at age 22, who has now won on each surface, has just as much of a chance of breaking Sampras’ record as Federer has – as long as he stays healthy.  I used to always go for Federer in his head-to-heads with Nadal, but over the last few years Nadal has really grown on me.  He doesn’t have the effortless grace and technical brilliance of Federer, but he’s always been a super-humble champion who plays with so much guts and courage on every single point.  The guy always gives it his all and never gives up (even with those wedgies).  Every time Federer looked like he was starting to gain control, Nadal would hit right back.  All those break points he saved really made the difference in today’s final (and last year’s Wimbledon final).  And tonight, even when the fans were cheering the loser louder than the winner, Nadal was totally gracious about it (and so was Federer, by the way, but he lost, so he had to be).

I think when people talk about the greatest of all time in the next few years, Rafael Nadal’s name has to be in the mix along with Federer, Sampras, Laver and Borg.  The biggest argument you could make against Federer is that he’s never won on clay – and the reason for that is Nadal.  The other major argument is that he can’t be the greatest if he can’t beat his rival (Nadal now leads 13-6 all time, including 5-2 in Grand Slams) – again, that reason is Nadal.

I still believe Federer will equal or break Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, but there’s also the possibility that Nadal will be the all-time Grand Slam winner by the time he’s done.