Home > Tennis > Nadal Overcomes Fatigue to Defeat Federer, Wins First Australian Open Title

Nadal Overcomes Fatigue to Defeat Federer, Wins First Australian Open Title


Photo of Rafael Nadal via Forty Deuce.

Photo of Rafael Nadal via Forty Deuce.

After a grueling five set match in the semifinals against his compatriot Fernando Verdasco, many people had him written off before the match had even started. Nadal, however, had other plans in mind, as he defeated Roger Federer in the Australian Open final 7-5,3-6,7-6,3-6,6-2. This match was of utmost importance to both players, as a victory for Federer meant that he would tie Pete Sampras’ record of 14 grand slam titles, whereas a victory for Nadal mean his first grand slam title on a hard court. 

Photo of Rafael Nadal via Forty Deuce.

Photo of Rafael Nadal via Forty Deuce.

From the beginning of the match, it was obvious that Nadal’s movement was slightly compromised because of fatigue, but it was his will and determination that allowed him to overcome that and still play high-level tennis. His serve was much improved from previous seasons and his backhand was spot on. In the end, however, it was his mental strength that gave him the clear advantage in this matchup. While Federer appeared to have mental highs and lows during the course of the match, Nadal always appeared focused. This mental advantage was never more apparent than in the last game of the match, in which Federer double faulted and had several bad misses to give Nadal the championship. Federer may have had the physical advantage, but Nadal had the heart of a champion.

There were a few times in which Nadal looked to be physically drained, but somehow he was always able to come up with brilliant shots in the big moments. The match point was a very physical one, with both players hitting brilliant shots, but Federer hit one long and Nadal dropped to the ground in delight. After the victory, as the fans chanted “ole, ole,” Federer couldn’t help but hang his head as he sat in his chair. In the minds of many, it was supposed to be his night for glory; however, it was Nadal that was celebrating when it was all said and done.

Photo of Roger Federer via Great Tennis Photos.

Photo of Roger Federer via Great Tennis Photos.

Part of the reason for Federer’s solemn look may have had to do with his play in the fifth set, which was as bad as anyone could ever expect for him in the fifth set of a major. He had a very difficult time getting his first serve in play and he hit several bad misses. While Nadal’s intensity increased in the fifth set, Federer looked like he didn’t have much belief in himself. One can only wonder if Federer thought about the implications of this tournament and let it get to his head. It was obvious that Nadal was in his head, as he looked emotionally drained in the fifth. Even as he attempted to give his speech afte the match had concluded, it was clear that Federer felt defeated, as he simply broke into tears, unable to even speak to the fans. Federer was given some time to regroup and in what may have been one of the most heartfelt moments of this rivalry, Nadal came up to Federer and put his arm around him, showing the mutual respect that these two players share for each other. When Nadal gave his post-match speech, he even took a moment to give kudos to Federer and his accomplishments. Even when Federer came back to give his speech, however, he was still barely able to speak and the tears flowed as he watched Nadal give his speech. 

This is Nadal’s first major victory on a hard court and the first for a Spaniard at the Australian Open. It shows his true dominance, not only over Federer, but over all of the men’s game, as he currently holds three grand slam titles (French Open, Wimledon, Australian Open). He is only the third man to win three of the four majors by the age of 22, the others being all-time greats Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras.  In fact, Nadal’s grand slam total is ahead of Federer’s total at his age, as he currently has six grand slam titles.

Categories: Tennis Tags: , ,
  1. AFL
    February 4, 2009 at 12:12 am

    I watched this entire match on TV and my stamina was pushed just watching it! Nadal showed incredible stamina. he had both knees strapped and Jim Courier observed in his commentary that during the third set Nadal was shaking his legs out to try and reduce cramping. What a great game to watch.

    • sportsaholic89
      February 4, 2009 at 6:38 am

      I completely agree with you. Nadal’s performance was simply inspiring. The fact that he was able to push through and defeat someone of Federer’s calibar when he was visably in pain was amazing. I can only hope that Federer’s confidence isn’t completely shaken, because I would love to see this rivalry continue.

  2. February 5, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I don’t normally watch a lot of tennis but I was riveted to the TV for this game. At the start, my girlfriend asked me who I wanted to win. I said I like both players, but I said I had never personally seen Federer beaten and knowing that Nadal must be exhausted from his previous win, I thought for him to beat Federer would make for unbelievably good tennis to watch. So as nice a guy as Federer is, I was cheering for Nadal. What a cracker of a match. Extraordinary shots and rallies. I think in the fifth set, it was 2 sets all and Federer was 2 games to 0 before Nadal came back AGAIN. Just sensational!

    • sportsaholic89
      February 5, 2009 at 1:12 am

      I completely agree. Wimbledon was a breakthrough for Nadal, but this may very well be his most impressive victory to date. For him to be able to defeat someone of Federer’s caliber, when he was clearly not at his best and not playing on his best surface is an incredible feat. Many people did not think that Nadal would last very long at the number one position, but at this point, I can’t see anyone passing him in the near future.

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