ROGER Federer isn’t just the greatest of all time.
His 18 record-extending Grand Slam wins after his astonishing Australian Open victory on Sunday made him four imposing majors ahead of both Rafael Nadal and the now-retired Pete Sampras.
Federer does not only love to win Grand Slams but also loves to steal them as well if given the chance.
The thievery aspect he did it again on Sunday.
From 1-3 in the fifth and final set, Federer rallied ferociously past Nadal, using thoroughbred strength rarely seen from a 35-year-old.
Federer didn’t just overtake Nadal in that fifth-set decider the Swiss had decisively won 6-3.
Federer out-shot, outran, outsmarted and thoroughly overwhelmed his long-time rival in a stunning display of superb tennis that left a foe five years younger eternally baffled.
If this were boxing, the referee might have stopped the fight and declared Federer winner by TKO.
Now, how can someone ranked 17th, and still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for six months, do such a feat of magical magnificence?
And against yet a guy that had beaten him 23 times in their last 35 meetings?
And did Federer not bow six times to Nadal in their last nine major finals, including Federer’s five-set loss to Nadal in the 2009 Australian final?
“I didn’t play bad,” said Nadal of their 36th face-off. “But he didn’t just play aggressive but super aggressive this time. He went for unbelievable shots. Amazing.”
So epic was the match and the scores in Federer’s fifth Australian Open win said it all: 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Why Nadal could not convert his 3-1 lead in the fifth into victory, maybe his feet had become as heavy as cement?
Just the day before, Nadal barely survived Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in a marathon five-setter lasting four minutes short of five hours.
Against Federer, Nadal lasted three hours 38 minutes in trying—in vain—to defend the Spanish Armada at the famed Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
In victory, Federer was gracious—as usual.
“There are no draws in tennis but if there should be one now, I’d be glad to share this trophy with Rafa (Nadal),” said Federer. “Keep playing please, Rafa. Tennis needs you.”
You, too, Roger.
The way you played Sunday, sunsets are non-existent.