In a replay of epic clashes, Nadal has the edge (Preview)

Melbourne, Jan 29 (IANS) There will be a sense of easy familiarity when Roger Federer plays Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open final on Sunday and adjectives will be flying thick and fast, just as the forehand winners will be scorching the lines.

In such match-ups, history tends to repeat itself frequently, and so Nadal will have the upper hand as he is 23-11 up head-to-head, a huge lead.

Nine of these matches were in Grand Slam finals, showing how much modern tennis has revolved round the clash of these giants. In the 2014 final, Nadal won 7-6, 6-3, 6-3. He looks confident enough to repeat this.

They started describing Federer as an ageing giant when he took an injury break of six months, but now he has already proved that age has not withered him.

Moving on court with effortless ease, rushing to the net with the confidence of catching the volley, Federer has been a treat to watch. When he scored a straight set victory over Tomas Berdych, it was clear that the Fed machine was back in good shape.

Federer, 35, is the fourth-oldest player to reach the Australian Open final, Ken Rosewall having done it twice at 36 and 37. So at the back of his mind will be this irritating reminder that time may be already knocking at his door.

But after his first winner gets past a lunging Nadal, Federer will be all set to go once again, summoning strokes and passes from his incredible memory.

But unfortunately for Federer, Nadal looks extremely dangerous and now, after his five-set victory over Grigor Dimitrov, all the more.

Nadal has already proved that from the baseline he is king, and the missiles that he launches from there will whiz past the stretched racquet of Federer.

“For sure we never thought that we had the chance to be again in a final and especially for the first final of the year. It has now happened. Both of us, I think, work hard to be where we are. Is great that, again, we are in a moment like this and we are going to have a chance to enjoy a moment like this,” Nadal said after his gruelling match against Dimitrov.

Federer had taken the trouble to visit Nadal’s spanking new tennis academy in Manacor in Majorca, Spain, and Nadal was touched by the gesture. So the pre-match rancour and chest-thumping will be missing for sure.

It should be a graceful final, full of line-kissing winners, which will pass in a flash but will be embedded for ever in our minds.

–IANS

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