Nadal, Wawrinka: Federer’s 5 Big Conquests Since His Jan Comeback

The world number four Roger Federer’s dream comeback is just getting better and better. The 35-year-old faced Rafael Nadal for the third time this year in the Miami Open final on Sunday and took him down once again. Federer won 6-3, 6-4 and clinched his third title of this season.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion had a horror 2016 after sustaining a knee injury in the most unconventional manner. He hurt his knee while running a bath for his twin daughters in March last year.

The incident forced him to undergo an arthroscopic surgery. The Swiss returned to competitive tennis in less than two months after the injury, but just before the Olympics, Federer pulled out of the rest of the season in 2016, to receive more extensive rehabilitation on his knee.

File photo of Roger Federer. (Photo: AP)

Roger FedererThe doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.

Many tennis fans believed that was the end of Federer’s career. Even if he made a comeback, the Swiss is going to be nowhere close to winning a Grand Slam, people said.

But Federer was never going to give up.

He made his comeback in the ATP tour at the Australian Open as the 17th seed and went on to win his 18th Grand Slam, beating his old nemesis Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller in the final.

Since then, Federer has become better and better.

As the world number four looks to move up in the ATP rankings, here’s a look at the big matches Federer has won since his comeback in January this year.

1. Australian Open Semi-Final vs Wawrinka

Roger Federer’s Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka quietly made it to the top five of the ATP rankings during Federer’s absence.

But Federer, who had a fantastic head-to-head record against Wawrinka – 18-3 ahead of the season – maintained his level against the current world number three.

In the semi-final at the Australian Open, Federer got off to a dream start after gaining a two sets to love lead.

However, Wawrinka fought back and made it two sets all. Federer took a rare injury time-out and came back with a vengeance.

He clinched the last set 6-3 and sailed into the final. The final score read 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3.

2. Australian Open Final vs Nadal

At the start of this season, the head-to-head record between Federer and Nadal stood at 23-11 on Nadal’s favour.

After Nadal had beaten Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final, the Swiss could never get the better of the Spainard in a Grand Slam thereafter.

Therefore, going into the Australian Open final this year, the odds were stacked against Federer.

But, the rejuvenated Federer pulled off an epic match. In the fifth set of the match, Nadal had broken Federer’s serve and was on course of winning the title.

The Swiss broke back and then broke Nadal’s serve again and won the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

3. Third Round Match vs Nadal at Indian Wells

For so many years, Nadal had the better of Federer, but this year, the Swiss showed his determination to make things right.

When the duo met again in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Federer cleaned him up in straight sets – 6-2, 6-3.

In the match that lasted just one hour and eight minutes, Federer won four break points and Nadal couldn’t break Federer’s serve throughout the match.

4. Indian Wells Final vs Wawrinka

The re-match of the Australian Open semi-final took place in the final at Indian Wells. But this time, it wasn’t much of a thriller like the match in Melbourne.

Federer just took one hour and 20 minutes to beat his compatriot 6-4, 7-5 and clinch his second title of the year.

In the match, Wawrinka served more aces but his service was broken three times in the match, while Federer lost his serve only once in the match.

5. Miami Open Final vs Nadal

In the Miami Open final, Nadal gave a better fight, but Federer was just too good. The Swiss won the match 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 34 minutes.

In the match, Federer earned nine break points, but managed to win only two of those points. While the Spainard earned four break points, he failed to convert even one.

Looks like, Federer is going to be ruling the second phase of their rivalry.