Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam title in five years, rallying from a deficit in the fifth set to overtake Rafael Nadal in a five-set classic at the Australian Open to earn the 18th slam victory of his career.
"I would have been happy to lose too, to be honest," he said. "Tennis is a tough sport, there's no draws. If there was going to be one, I would have been happy to have it tonight and share it with Rafa, really."
Federer, ranked 17th in men's singles entering the event after nearly six months away to recover from a knee injury, took a medical timeout before the fifth set and quickly fell into a hole. But with the support of the sellout crowd at Rod Laver Stadium, Federer polished off the three-hour, 37-minute epic with a 6-5, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win.
Federer was down a break point in the fifth set but fought back in the sixth game to make it 3-all. Nadal missed multiple breakpoint chances before Federer finished the match, leaping up and down in celebration.
Nadal has dominated the rivalry but was also coming back from injury. He missed parts of last season with a wrist injury, and Federer said the Spaniard, a 14-time major winner, deserved to win Sunday.
"I'm going to keep fighting during the whole season and for sure, to come back here for many years and keep trying to have this trophy," Nadal said. "That is the third time that I have (the runner-up trophy). This is beautiful but still much better the trophy."