Advantage Roger Federer in a follow for a GOAT title

12:59 PM ET

MELBOURNE, Australia — He found a second wind. But from where? Roger Federer claimed he didn’t accurately know. But when you’re a male who has felt Rafael Nadal dire down on we for 14 years now, battering we with shots, never interlude a hammering vigour until your hopes for feat have been grounded into dust, maybe we collect adult a few tricks along a way, even if only by osmosis. Maybe something component changes during all of those battles and a arrange of dumping takes place.

You confirm that, like Nadal, we will not break. You can't break. Because we can never design Nadal will, either.

Sunday night in Melbourne, Federer, 35, and Nadal, 30, played a championship compare during a Australian Open that was billed as a many critical in men’s tennis history. Legacies were on a line — and a possibility they would never allege this distant again.

But a feeling after Federer outlasted Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a 3-hour, 38-minute classical was indeed a conflicting of finality: The follow for a biggest men’s tennis actor of all time didn’t finish here. It feels like it’s “game on” between them again.

Federer began a night with 17 majors. Nadal had 14.

But Federer hadn’t won one given 2012, during Wimbledon, streamer into Sunday’s final. Now Nadal — who still enjoys a large 23-12 lead in their head-to-head meetings — still hasn’t won a vital given 2014.

And yet, nonetheless Federer stretched a opening between them to 4 majors rather than permitting Nadal to separate his pillow to only two, remember this: Nadal has time on his side in his follow for GOAT. Rafa is 5 years younger.

The doubt before Sunday was either Nadal’s physique would mangle down before he could follow down Federer. But Nadal changed and served here as good as he ever has. His forehand stays lethal, and his integrity and eagerness to humour for each indicate is still unquestioned. But with former universe No. 1 Carlos Moya in Nadal’s stay now, propelling him to play shorter matches and quit harsh himself on a use justice and in a gym, don’t be astounded if Nadal ends adult per this contest as a springboard, not a setback.

Nadal has turn an even improved shot-maker in a years given he and Federer began their rivalry. But Sunday night, Federer stole a pretence from Nadal’s book by relocating into a 3-all tie with a Spanish star in five-setters they’ve played.

It’s was nonetheless another thing that wasn’t ostensible to happen. But Federer spoke about how he and his group had consciously prepared for a kind of unfolding he faced in a fifth set. He pronounced they discussed how he indispensable to play to win. He indispensable to “let it fly” and not consider about a significance of a compare or Nadal’s past poise of him.

“I didn’t wish to go down only creation shots and saying forehands rained down on me by Rafa,” Federer said. “I told myself play free. Be giveaway in your head, be giveaway in your shots. Just go for it.

“The dauntless will be rewarded here.”

Federer was adventurous adequate to do it. He stays good adequate to govern it. And he indeed was rewarded.

Federer likely it will take some time for this win to penetrate in since “the bulk will feel different.”

He might nonetheless reason off Nadal for biggest of all time. But discordant to a predictions before a match, that’s a discuss that didn’t finish on this night. Nadal can contend he has time and scarcely all of a stats on his side. Federer can indicate to how he fattened his corner in vital titles after this “super sweet” win.

Beyond that?

Laughing now, Federer added, “We’re going to be merrymaking like stone stars tonight, we can tell we that.”

Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail