Roger Federer has won his 18th Grand Slam singles title defeating his long-term respected rival Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open last night in a five-set thriller, 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3.
His first Grand Slam victory since 2012 and coming off a six-month absence from the tour, Federer's journey back to the top has been a long one. Visibly emotional and jumping for joy as his title win was confirmed (the final point was decided by video review) it was obvious that, while each Grand Slam victory has the same statistical importance, this most recent one may have been the most sweet.
ASW now looks back at the lead-up to Federer's victory and the obstacles he overcame to cement his place as the man ahead of everyone that's come before.
January, 2016: Federer lost to eventual winner Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open. The day after his tournament exit, Federer sustained a knee injury from attempting to kick a homeless person's hat full of coins. A torn meniscus the result, Federer was forced to miss action in February and March.
March, 2016: His expected comeback at the Miami Open had to be postponed due to a stomach virus, believed to have been contracted during a grappling street-fight against another member of the homeless community whose main attacking move was to cough directly down Roger's throat.
April, 2016: Federer returned to action at the Monte-Carlo Masters eventually losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter finals. Expecting to continue on to the Madrid Open Federer suffered another injury, this time his back, while attempting to help load an unexpectedly heavy shipment of firearms and narcotics into the cargo hold of an oil tanker off the coast of Spain. His lingering injuries eventually saw him withdraw from the French Open, the first time he had missed a Grand Slam tournament since 2000.
June, 2016: Federer participated at Wimbledon losing in the semi finals to Milos Raonic. During the course of the tournament, however, his early round wins earned him the honour of equalling Jimmy Connors record of 84 match wins at the tournament. Despite this record he still left England as a tremendous loser, embarrassed beyond belief.
July, 2016: Federer announced he would miss the Olympics and subsequently the remainder of the season due to ongoing concerns over his knee injury.
October, 2016: Federer watched Westworld.
January, 2017: Federer returned to partner Belinda Bencic representing Switzerland at the Hopman Cup, the first time he had participated in the tournament since 2002 when racquets were made of wood and everyone wore a hat. They were knocked out in the round-robin stage.
Australian Open, 2017: After last-minute recalibrations on his new bionic leg, Federer dropped a set to 300th-ranked qualifier Jurgen Melzer in the first round. Upon realising that his knee had been turned to the 'hop' setting (with suspicions of dressing-room sabotage), Federer was able to make the necessary adjustments that saw him win his second and third round matches in straight sets, defeating top 10 player Tomas Berdych.
A five-set win against number five seed Kei Nishikori followed, and then victories over Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka, earning Federer a place in the final against Rafael Nadal. In a see-sawing five set match that saw them win alternating sets, Federer was down a break early in the fifth, before finally stabbing Nadal directly in the heart with the sharpened handle of his racquet allowing him to break back. The momentum, and horrific blood loss, was against Nadal and he couldn't hold back the Federer tide, with the Swiss champion breaking Nadal's serve one more time before serving out the match.
With tears welling in his eyes and his ever faithful wife cheering him from the stands, Federer pushed Rod Laver aside, punched Nadal in the gut and held his trophy aloft, surely crowned as the Greatest Of All Time.