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Federer confirms his legendary status after cruising to victory as Nadal is left languishing

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal treated the crowd on Rod Laver Arena to a vintage display of tennis as the Swiss edged a tense thriller in five sets to be crowned Australian Open champion four and a half years after his last Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon and seven since he last lifted the trophy in Melbourne in 2010.

Roger Federer lifts the Australian Open trophy for the fifth time in his career after beating Rafael Nadal across five sets

Roger Federer came out on top 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 after a rollercoaster ride of a 35th chapter of his rivalry with Rafa Nadal to win his fifth Australian Open and clinch a first grand slam title in four and a half years on Sunday.

The 35-year-old capped his triumphant return from knee surgery with a record-extending 18th major title after a vintage battle with his Spanish rival, who had won all three of their previous meetings at Melbourne Park.

Federer is just one Australian Open title behind the all-time leaders Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson

An elated Federer afterwards paid tribute to his opponent saying, ‘Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws but if there were I would have been happy to share it with Rafa.

‘When we saw each other four or five months ago (at Nadal’s academy) we never believed we could be in the finals. I’m very happy for you, I would have been happy to lose.

Rod Laver (right) applauds after handing the trophy over the Federer while Nadal holds his runner's up plate

‘I work hard but try not to shout about it. It has been a different last six months and I wasn’t sure I would make it here.’

Nadal said: ‘Congrats to Roger, it’s amazing how he is playing without being on the tour. It has been a great month for me, I really enjoyed it.’

Nadal looks on in frustration after letting victory slip through his fingers in the final set on an epic encounter

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