Advantage Roger Federer in the chase for the GOAT title

12:16 PM ET

MELBOURNE, Australia — He found a second wind. But from where? Roger Federer claimed he didn’t exactly know. But when you’re a man who has felt Rafael Nadal pressing down on you for 14 years now, battering you with shots, never stopping the hammering pressure until your hopes for victory have been grounded into dust, perhaps you pick up a few tricks along the way, even if just by osmosis. Maybe something elemental changes during all of those battles and a sort of transference takes place.

You decide that, like Nadal, you will not break. You cannot break. Because you can never expect Nadal will, either.

Sunday night in Melbourne, Federer, 35, and Nadal, 30, played a championship match at the Australian Open that was billed as the most important in men’s tennis history. Legacies were on the line — and a chance they would never advance this far again.

But the feeling after Federer outlasted Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a 3-hour, 38-minute classic was

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