|Australian Open 2017|
|Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne Dates: 16-29 Jan Start: 08:30 GMT|
|Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text on the BBC Sport website; TV highlights on BBC Two and online.|
Roger Federer says he will not let his long-standing rivalry with Rafael Nadal affect his performance in the Australian Open final on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Swiss has met Nadal, 30, in eight Grand Slam finals, most recently at the French Open in 2011.
Federer, attempting to secure his 18th Grand Slam title, has not beaten 14-time major winner Nadal in the final of a Slam since Wimbledon in 2007.
“I’ve got to have a sort of a nothing-to-lose mentality,” said Federer.
“I know this court allows me to play a certain game against Rafa that I cannot do on centre court at the French Open.”
Spain’s Nadal has won six of the duo’s Grand Slam final meetings, including beating Federer in five sets to win the Australian Open in 2009.
The two will meet on court for the 35th time in Melbourne from 08:30 GMT.
“He’s an incredible tennis player,” said Federer, who described himself as Nadal’s number one. “He’s got shots that no other one has. When you have that, you are unique and special.”
Should Nadal win on Sunday, he will be the first man in the Open era – and third overall – to win all four Grand Slam titles twice. Federer, meanwhile, is trying to become the first man to win three of the major titles five times.
“It’s exciting for both of us that we are still there and fighting for important events,” said Nadal. “It’s very special.”
‘I didn’t think about being where I am now’
The rivalry began at the Miami Masters in 2004, when a 17-year-old Nadal beat Federer, then the world number one, 6-3 6-3.
Nadal has won 23 of their 34 meetings, but Federer triumphed in their last – in Basel in 2015.
Three of their Grand Slam finals have gone to five sets, as did both of their semi-finals earlier this week.
Nadal took four hours 56 minutes to beat Grigor Dimitrov on Friday, a day after Federer was taken to five sets by compatriot Stan Wawrinka.
Both players had injury-affected seasons in 2016, with Federer sidelined for six months with a knee problem, and a wrist injury forcing Nadal to withdraw from the French Open.
“When you have to go from Roland Garros without going on court, I remember myself crying in the car. That was a tough moment,” Nadal said.
“I didn’t think about being where I am today. It is special to play with Roger again in a final of a Grand Slam.”
Federer looks to roll back the years
Sunday’s match will be Federer’s 100th at the Australian Open.
He is the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam final since Ken Rosewall, a US Open finalist in 1974 aged 39 years and 310 days.
And victory would make him the second oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era – Rosewall having won three major titles after his 35th birthday.
“Rosewall wrote me a letter this week to wish me well again,” said Federer. “He does it every year at the Australian Open.
“To be in the same breath like these guys, it’s a great feeling. I love these guys. It means a lot to me to have equalled something like this.”
Nadal v Federer – previous Grand Slam finals
2006: French Open – Nadal won 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4)
2006: Wimbledon – Federer won 6-0 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3
2007: French Open – Nadal won 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4
2007: Wimbledon – Federer won 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-2
2008: French Open – Nadal won 6-1 6-3 6-0
2008: Wimbledon – Nadal won 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7
2009: Australian Open – Nadal won 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2
2011: French Open – Nadal won 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-1
Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent:
“When Federer flew to Mallorca to help launch Nadal’s academy in the autumn, knee and wrist injuries meant an exhibition match was out of the question. Little did they imagine their next on court meeting would be so near, and on such an important stage.
“The history of their matches points to a Nadal victory. But the Spaniard spent nearly two hours longer on court in winning his semi-final, which was played a day later than Federer’s. The Swiss is managing an abductor injury, but then again he is loving the quicker courts which should play into his hands.
“What is clear is that there is an enormous amount at stake. If Nadal wins he will close to within two Grand Slam titles of Federer’s record of 17 and become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the sport’s major prizes at least twice.”
John Lloyd, 1977 Australian Open finalist and BBC Sport analyst:
“If Rafa had played a five-hour match a day after Roger when Rafa was at his peak – when he was winning majors all the time – I would not have been worried. We saw many times how he could recover from long matches.
“The difference now is he hasn’t been in this position for a while – that does concern me. The semi-final against Dimitrov was exhausting, not just physically but mentally. I think that does give a little advantage to Federer.
“However, Rafa is such a warrior I still think he will be alright – and I pick him to win.”