Rafael Nadal may have felt the after effects of his Friday night spectacular but you wouldn't know it.
The world's top baller, who only had a day to recover from his 5+ hour semifinal versus Fernando Verdasco and needed treatment in today's third set, left everything he had on the court and defeated Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 in the Aussie Open final for his sixth career major title and first on hard-court. He becomes the first Spanish baller to win the title in Oz and ties Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg on the all-time list with six Grand Slams each.
The 22-year old has now beaten his rival 5 consecutive times, leads their head-to-head 13-6 (6-2 in Grand Slam meet ups) and currently holds three of the four major championships with only the US Open missing from his resume.
In his post-match presser, Rafa was asked about grabbing his sixth Grand Slam:
Well, very special, no, for me. Is a dream win here, one Grand Slam on hard court. I worked very hard the last ‑‑ well, all my life for improve the tennis outside courts, well, outside of clay.And what does he think was the key to winning the match in the end?
Very happy, no? Very happy for the title. Today was really lot of emotions on court. I was there with the best player I ever saw, like is Roger.
My uncle always told me Rod Laver was the best because he win two times the Grand Slam, the whole Grand Slam, the four in a row, and for like six or seven years he didn't play. So for that reason he can be.
Everything was very special. Sorry was tough moment for Rog today. I know how tough must be there in important situation from him. But, you know, no, he's a great champion. He's the best. And he's, for sure, very important person for our sport, no?
So sorry for him, but at the same time congratulate him for everything.
I think he had more mistakes than me in the fifth. I was more solid than Roger on the fifth. For that reason I won the match, no?Kudos go out to the Mallorcan Matador for showing real grit and determination and, above all, the mental strength to come back a day after the grueling semifinal 5-setter and take the title. I wasn't sure if he would have any legs left to fight the battle against Fed but he proved me wrong.
In the game when I had the first break, he has one mistake with the important ‑‑ important mistake with the backhand on the breakpoint. That was very important for me.
UPDATE: Thanks to DtL reader Johanne for tipping me off to Rafa's updated blog celebrating today's Aussie Open win...
Where should I begin….!I’VE WON THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN! YES!
When I finally celebrated my last point I felt something I’ve never felt before, it was a more peaceful victory compared to the one in Roland Garros and Wimbledon but at the same time, it was come completed. And I know why it was that way.
I grew up as a clay-courter and my style of game adapted to that: I learned to push my opponents out of the court and that made me wear out my physic with some much running around and long rallies.
But my uncle Tony and I knew that my game had to have more dimensions to it so that I could have the same kind of results on other surfaces. I had to change my game radically, more direct and aggressive. I had to improve my service as well and control my game when going up to the net. Make my shots flatter and my volley more accurate.
We had lots of work ahead of us for sure.
Every year we’ve had improve my game on hard courts and even though I bit Djoko in the final of the Olympic games, this final against Roger Federer, (who has recuperated his form) was going to be a test of fire for me.
But we made it!
All the hard work, the dedication I put into it was well worth it. And that is what sport is really about. A victory tastes amazing only if it is the result of hard work.
THANK YOU ALL OF ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT!
UPDATE #2: Here's Rafa being interviewed by ESPN's Chris Fowler after the huge win...
(images via Getty)