Remembering Roger Federer’s back-to-back Australian Open titles
For a time, Roger Federer was simply unbeatable. Between 2004 and 2008, the Swiss icon won 12 of the 18 Grand Slams on offer, including five consecutive Wimbledon titles. But then came along the golden era of men’s tennis.
Rafael Nadal had won four consecutive French Open titles by the age of 22. But it wasn’t until his 2008 Wimbledon success – beating Federer in an epic final – that he announced himself on the world stage. Earlier that year, a young Serbian sensation named Novak Djokovic would also introduce himself to the globe by winning the Australian Open to seal his first slam.
Between 2008 and 2012, that trio would trade titles. Federer would even pick up the one grand slam that had eluded him, the 2009 French Open. Swede Robin Söderling defeated reigning champion, Nadal, in the fourth round and it was the man who was then thought of as the greatest of all time who took full advantage.
But in 2012, another superstar would make his presence felt, Britain’s Andy Murray. The Scot had threatened to win a first slam for Great Britain since Fred Perry way back in 1936, however, had lost four finals on the spin. He lost the 2008 US Open final to Federer in straight sets, back-to-back Australian Open finals in 2010 and 2011 – firstly to Federer again, then to Djokovic – and finally the 2012 Wimbledon final, once again to Federer.
But just four weeks on from that painful defeat, Murray would finally strike gold, quite literally. He defeated Federer on straight sets on Centre Court to secure a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. A month later, he defeated Djokovic in the US Open final to finally secure his first slam at the fifth time of asking.
Federer’s fall from prominence
With the rise of three new superstars, Federer wasn’t the undisputed number one anymore – he was most definitely still a major player in elite tennis. But online bookmakers such as Bovada, which provides tennis odds and free bets, weren’t making the Swiss Superman the heavy favorite like they were a few years prior.
A major factor for that was Federer’s advancing years. While all three of the new top stars were in their mid-20s, when Murray won his first slam in 2012, Federer had just turned 31. And that showed.
Between 2013 and 2016, the former undisputed world number one didn’t pick up a slam in 16 attempts. He did reach three finals during that timeframe however, but on each occasion lost to Djokovic, and it looked like his star had faded.
But then, in 2017, the great man was back. And it wasn’t for one last hurrah.
The twilight of a glittering career
Roger Federer entered the 2017 Australian Open seeded at number 17, the lowest he had been ranked since his first slam some 14 years prior. The 35-year-old was ranked below the likes of Lucas Pouille and a brash 21-year-old Australian upstart named Nick Kyrgios. That wouldn’t phase him.
Reigning back-to-back champion Djokovic was the favourite to make it three on the bounce heading into the tournament, however, he was stunned in the second round by Uzbeki wildcard Denis Istomin. Federer’s prospective quarterfinal opponent Murray would also fall early, losing out to unranked German Mischa Zverev in the last 16. That opened the door for the 35-year-old path to a first slam title in three-and-a-half years.
He would beat Murray’s conqueror to set up a semifinal date with countryman Stan Wawrinka. Switzerland’s second-greatest male tennis player in history had himself picked up three slams during Federer’s barren spell, but it was Switzerland’s finest that would come out on top in a five-set epic. That would set up another final between Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard was also enduring somewhat of a dry spell. He hadn’t picked up a major title since the 2013 French Open and was keen to show that he still had what it takes. But on this night in Melbourne, he was no match for Federer.
The 35-year-old won another five-set battle to become the male winner of a grand slam, and he wasn’t done yet. Six months later at Wimbledon, he would again take advantage of a trio of early exits to defeat Marin Čilić and pick up his eighth and final title at the All England Club. And at the start of 2018, the old gunslinger would return down under for his final triumph.
By this point, Andy Murray’s injury woes had begun, and both Nadal and Djokovic couldn’t make it passed the quarterfinals. That opened the door for Federer to claim his 20th and final major.
The only ranked players that Federer had to beat end route to the final were Tomáš Berdych and Richard Gasquet, but that didn’t bother him or his fans one bit. In the Melbourne showpiece, he would once again take apart Čilić in straight sets to claim back-to-back Aussie Open crowns, giving fans around the world one last sight of the great man lifting silverware.
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