Here's what Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's only previous Australian Open final tells us
When they met at the 2009 Australian Open final at the age of 22 and 27 respectively, who would have guessed that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer would play just two more grand slam finals against each other in the next eight years?
Well, fast forward to 2017 and the pair are about to meet in only their second Melbourne final – so what can we learn from the first one?
Until now, it was their only hard court major final
Up until now, the 2009 final in Melbourne was incredibly the only time these two ever met in a hard-court grand slam final, having contested three Wimbledon finals and three French Open finals.
Federer’s record at the time was eight hard-court grand slams to Nadal’s zero, but that all changed when the Spaniard took the title in Oz after an epic final.
Rog went on to reclaim his title, winning it for the fourth time in 2010, while Rafa has since lost in the final twice.
These two can go the distance
We mentioned that the 2009 final was an epic, and oh boy, we were not kidding.
The top two tennis players in the world at the time tussled for four hours and 23 minutes, with Nadal eventually triumphing 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 after some of the finest tennis the planet has ever seen.
Even more remarkable was the fact Nadal had played out the longest match in Australian Open history in his semi-final against Fernando Verdasco, taking five hours and 14 minutes to beat his rival.
Roger doesn’t like losing
So it’s not just Andy Murray who cries after losing grand slam finals? Roger had won 13 majors at this point, including the Australian Open three times, but losing still hit him pretty hard.
In context however, Federer was one grand slam short of Sampras’s record of 14 at the time, and could probably sense that the youthful Nadal might have something to say about that record as well one day.
“Maybe I’ll try later again, I don’t know, god, it’s killing me,” said Federer after the match. He managed to speak a little later, but we reckon a grand slam final defeat at the age of 35 might be similarly difficult for him.
Who went on to have the better season?
It might have seemed a bit rubbish at the time for Federer, but his season panned out much better than Nadal’s.
Rog managed to win the French Open later that year, completing the career grand slam, as well as adding a sixth Wimbledon title to his collection. Rafa meanwhile only managed a US Open semi-final appearance, losing to Juan Martin del Potro.
All in all, Federer has added four majors since his Australian Open disappointment, with Nadal managing eight, including five more French Open titles.
Will either of them add any more majors after this final, or is it both Nadal and Federer’s last chance for grand slam silverware?