Tennis: A thrilling five set win over Stan Wawrinka is the latest chapter in an incredible Roger Federer story that has captivated the Australian Open.
ROGER Federer has cast aside injury concerns as history beckons ahead of the Swiss master’s date with destiny in Sunday night’s Australian Open final.
Federer, 35, needed treatment for what is believed to be adductor or groin soreness during an electrifying five-set semi-final win over compatriot Stan Wawrinka.
Contesting his first grand slam since injuring his left knee at Wimbledon in July, Federer took an injury time-out before the start of the fifth set on Thursday night.
Chasing an 18th major in his 28th grand slam decider, Federer said the break was more to compose himself mentally.
And he’s confident the three-day break between matches will help ease minor soreness.
“The leg wasn’t better or worse in the fifth (set),” he said.
“I felt tightness throughout the match, and I felt like it slowed me down.
“I just hoped that maybe having the physio work on it, that it would make me feel better. But it didn’t.
“It’s not something I’m necessarily really worried about in any way. So that’s a good thing.”
Injured or not, Federer is daring to dream.
“I know I will have a chance to win on Sunday now,” the four-time champion said ahead of what will be his 100th Open match (86 wins, 13 losses) at Melbourne Park.
“That’s a great position to be in.
“Regardless of who it’s going to be against, I think it’s going to be special either way. One is going to go for his first slam or it’s the epic battle with Rafa.
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“All I care about is that I can win on Sunday. Doesn’t matter who’s across the net. But I understand the magnitude of the match against Nadal, no doubt about it.
The oldest men’s finalist since 39-year-old Australian Ken Rosewall in the 1974 US Open playoff, Federer revealed he last week received a letter from the legendary 82-year-old.
“We don’t speak about him (Rosewall) enough,” Federer said of the Sydneysider who won eight majors between 1953-72 despite missing 12 years of grand slam competition after turning professional.
“I think he’s a wonderful man. He wrote me a letter again this week to wish me well again.
“He does it every year at the Australian Open. Still haven’t seen him, unfortunately. I know he’s around.
“I love that generation of players with Tony Roche, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson.
“We (Emerson and Federer) got to milk a cow together in Gstaad (after Federer’s 2003 Wimbledon win over Mark Philippoussis).
“We go way back.”
Federer’s most recent grand slam title came at Wimbledon in 2012.
Since then, he has lost three major finals — two at Wimbledon, the other at the US Open — to Novak Djokovic.
Federer reached the last four in Melbourne last year before injuring his knee while running a bath for his children.
The graceful right-hander then missed the French Open because of back problems before aggravating the knee during the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Now, after reprising vintage form with wins over high-class Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Wawrinka, he is back — perhaps ahead of schedule.
“It’s (his comeback) gone much better than I thought it would,” he said.
“That’s also what I was telling myself in the fifth set.
“I was talking to myself, saying like ‘Just relax, man. The comeback is so great already. Let it fly off your racquet and just see what happens.’
“I think that’s the mindset I got to have, as well, in the finals.
“Sort of a nothing-to-lose mentality. It’s been nice these last six matches to have that mentality. It worked very well so I’ll keep that up.”
Federer first won in Melbourne Park in 2004, adding three more crowns in 2006, ‘07 and ‘10.