Australian Open Men’s Final. 8AM. British Eurosport
It only went and happened!
Like the Women’s draw, the Men’s Australian Open 2017 has set up a final for the ages. It’s arguably the two greatest players to ever pick up a racquet, renewing what is surely the greatest ever rivalry in the sport.
Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal. In a Grand Slam final for the first time since the French Open 2011. It should be absolutely magical.
Fed Express Out For Slam 18
Nearly five years after winning his 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 2012, the most successful man of the Open Era is back in a final as he aims to capture number 18. The Swiss star has fallen at the last hurdle on three occasions during that period, but he’ll feel that this is probably his best ever shot at extending his record-breaking haul.
Even at 35, Federer oozes class and while his first Melbourne final since 2010 comes as a shock, the early exit of Andy Murray certainly increased his chances. That’s not to say he hasn’t fought off strong competition en route to Sunday’s showpiece, though, as Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, and Stan Wawrinka all posed difficult tests. However, the No.17 seed passed them all with flying colours.
It’s an incredible start to 2017 after an injury plagued 2016. Age is slowly catching up on the four-time winner in Melbourne, but the fact he has reached the last four in each of his last five Slam events is a testimony to his longevity and utter brilliance.
However, if there’s only one man that has beaten Federer on the big stage – even at his best – it is Sunday’s opponent.
Nadal On For 2nd Career Slam
The world number nine’s appearance is arguably an even greater shock as he hasn’t reached any Grand Slam final since winning his 14th title at the French Open 2014. However, a first title in Australia since 2009 wouldn’t only complete a second career Grand Slam; it would also see him move into second on the overall list of Open Era victories.
Injuries have taken their toll on Nadal’s body, but the Spaniard has been marvellous at Melbourne Park. Like Federer, he was lucky to escape a pre-tournament favourite thanks to Novak Djokovic’s early departure. Nevertheless, wins over Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic, and Grigor Dimitrov have underlined the 30-year-old’s quality. The quarter-final victory over Raonic was particularly magical while his gritty semi-final triumph sets up this dream showpiece final.
Nadal boasts a good record over Federer, especially in Melbourne where he is 3-0 in head-to-head meetings. The last of those came in the 2014 semi-final in a three-set victory. While a repeat of that seems unlikely, the left-hander won’t be short of confidence.
The stage is set and this will be one for the history books. If Nadal’s power play is on point, we could see the trophy bite once more.
Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal Betting
There’s so many factors to consider, and the bookies don’t think there will be much between the two. Having said that, it’s the 30-year-old Nadal who is priced as the 4/5 favourite with Unibet. Federer, meanwhile, can be backed at 11/10 to win his 18th Slam.
First and foremost, we just hope the match delivers. These two titans have provided plenty of highlights over the years and, given that their ninth Grand Slam final meeting is likely to be the last, a good performance from both would be great – even though one will inevitably have to leave.
Of course, we’ll be having a bet however. One selection we do like is Federer on the double faults. He has 15 to Nadal’s 12 and, if he does fall behind, we could see another few here.
From a neutral sporting perspective, we can’t lose either way. However, we are edging towards a Nadal win in spite of Federer’s extra rest and preparation.
Can Nadal register a 3-0 victory? Probably not. However, he is more than capable of winning without the need for a final set. After the way Friday’s semi-final went, that’s exactly what he’ll be aiming to do.