Nadal flopped onto his back, then got up and raced to shake hands. The players put their arms around each other’s shoulders at the net as they walked off the court.
Although Federer actually won one more point (174-173), his serve let him down all too frequently. He connected on only 51 percent of his first serves, and it seemed as if all his six double-faults came at critical times.
And as the pressure ratcheted up in the fifth set, it was Federer who wilted, not Nadal. Federer had six winners and 14 unforced errors in the set. Nadal had just two unforced errors and dropped only three points in four service games.
Federer converted only six of his 19 break-point chances; Nadal converted seven of 16.
It was the first Australian Open men’s final to go to five sets since Mats Wilander beat Pat Cash in 1988, the first at Melbourne.
Serena Williams had one of the shortest finals on the women’s side. She lifted her level in the final, routing Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian title, 10th major and regain the No. 1 ranking.
“I actually forgot until the end when I was saying hi to my box. They’re like, ’Hey, you’re No. 1.’ I was like, ’Oh, yeah,”’ she said.
Not that a number means everything.
“I always believe I’m the best, whether I’m No. 1 or 100,” she said. “Just having that extra bonus is pretty cool.”
After Melbourne’s hottest three-day heat wave on record, conditions were a relatively mild 79 degrees for the weekend night finals.
Williams also won the doubles with sister Venus in a doubles double for American families. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan won the men’s doubles and regained the No. 1 ranking.
Rafael Nadal is currently ranked fourth in the world, but has had a dominant run lately as he has won seven of the last eight French Open titles. Mary Carrillo thinks we’re in store for a Nadal-Djokovic final.
Take a look at action from every championship match in Melbourne, including the classic bout between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Scenes from Down Under
Check out the best images from the 2013 Australian Open.
The best of Wimbledon
The best images from the Grand Slam tournament at the All-England Club.
French Open 2012: Top 10 Shots
June 10, 2012: John McEnroe, Ted Robinson, and Mary Carillo look back at the Top Ten best moments from the 2012 French Open.