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The Latest: Rafa, Roger have mutual respect ahead of final

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The Latest on Sunday at the Australian Open (all times local):

12:10 a.m.

There was much mutual respect following the Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with both players commending each other for better-than-expected comebacks from their respective injuries.

Nadal missed chunks of last season with an injured wrist and Federer was sidelined during the second half of the year with an injured knee.

''Just amazing, the way he's playing after such a long time without him being on the tour,'' Nadal said of Federer. ''It's just very difficult to make that happen.''

The 14-time major winner said he's also pleased with his play in Australia, saying he's ''back at a very high level.''

''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.''

Federer was also impressed by Nadal's return from injury, saying he would have been content if the Spaniard had gotten the victory, too.

''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.''


11:15 p.m.

Roger Federer has won his 18th major title by beating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to capture the Australian Open.

Federer was down a break early in the pivotal fifth set, but came back to break the Spaniard in the sixth game to level the set at 3-all.

The crowd cheering wildly with every winner he hit, Federer then broke Nadal again in the eighth game to go up 5-3. Nadal had chances in the next game, but couldn't convert on two breakpoint chances and Federer closed it out on his second match point.

Federer jumped up and down and screamed in celebration after clinching the match, then held back tears as he sat in his change-over chair.

Federer captured his first major title since Wimbledon in 2012 and his fifth Australian Open trophy. Nadal had been bidding for his second title in Melbourne and his 15th overall at Grand Slams.


10:15 p.m.

The Australian Open men's final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is going to a fifth set.

Nadal broke Federer in the fourth game of the fourth set to take a 3-1 lead and then held in his next service game by chasing down a Federer backhand and lunging for a forehand slice crosscourt winner that brought the crowd to its feet.

Nadal held serve the rest of the way to take the set 6-3.

Nadal has a 19-8 career five-set record, while Federer's record is 26-20. Both men have already played two five-set matches in the tournament.


9:35 p.m.

Federer saved three break points with aces in an opening game that lasted more than eight minutes to hold, then broke Nadal in the next to take control of the third set. He had three break-point chances to take a 4-0 lead but Nadal held serve after 14-point game.

Federer won the next three games and served out. He is potentially one set away from an 18th Grand Slam title.

Federer won the first set 6-4 and Nadal won the second set 6-3.


8:55 p.m.

Rafael Nadal has won the second set 6-3 to level the Australian Open final against Roger Federer at one set each.

Federer won the first set 6-4, conceding just four points on serve. In the second, Nadal got breaks in Federer's first two service games to take a 4-0 lead before dropping serve himself for the only time in the set.

The 35-year-old Federer is aiming to increase his record to 18 Grand Slam singles titles. The 30-year-old Nadal is aiming for his 15th.

Both players are returning from lengthy injury layoffs and are meeting in a Grand Slam final for the first time since the 2011 French Open.


8:15 p.m.

Roger Federer has captured the opening set against Rafael Nadal 6-4 in the final of the Australian Open.

The 17th-seeded Federer converted the only break point of the set when Nadal hit a backhand error in the seventh game, giving the Swiss star a 4-3 lead. Federer only lost four points on his serve in the entire set.

Federer is back in the Australian Open final for the first time since 2010, when he won his fourth title at Melbourne Park. He's aiming to extend his record Grand Slam total to 18 with a win here.

The ninth-seeded Nadal is aiming to win his first major title since the 2014 French Open and his 15th overall. He's only won once in Australia in 2009.


5:30 p.m.

Abigail Spears and Juan Sebastian Cabal have combined to beat second-seeded Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig 6-2, 6-4 to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title.

The 35-year-old Spears played her part at the Australian Open golden oldies party with her win.

Spears was striving to win her first Grand Slam title in her farewell year. She plans to retire at the end of this season after a career in which she was twice runner-up in mixed doubles finals with Mexican Santiago Gonzalez at the US Open in 2013 and 2014.

The triumph by Spears and 30-year-old Cabal continued the veteran's theme of the championships with 30-plus players in the men's and women's singles finals, too.


3:15 p.m.

There was a lot of mutual respect going around before the Australian Open final on Sunday between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

''Rafa's definitely presented me with the biggest challenge in the game,'' Federer said after his semifinal win over U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka. ''I'm happy we've had some epic, epic battles over the years ...''

Nadal said neither player could have imagined making the final of the year's first Grand Slam after coming back from their respective injuries in 2016 - Federer, his left knee; Nadal, his left wrist. Both men took time off last season and had difficult draws in Melbourne because of their lower rankings.

''For me, it's a privilege,'' Nadal said. ''It's a very, very special thing, I think, for both of us to be in the final of a major again, have another chance to compete against each other after a couple of years having some problems.''

Nadal, who has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, has dominated Federer, who has a leading 17 men's majors, in their head-to-head matches. Nadal has a 23-11 record overall and has won nine of their 11 Grand Slam matches.

The match was an early-evening start, expected under clear skies and in temperatures of about 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), allowing the roof on Rod Laver Arena to be open.


2:55 p.m.

A Grand Slam final nearly six years in the making is just hours away at the Australian Open.

The last time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal met in a major final was at the French Open in 2011, when Nadal won in four sets. Nadal holds a 23-11 edge, including semifinal wins at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2014.

Federer, with a leading 17 Grand Slam men's singles titles, has gone further in the tournament than he ever expected after being out for six months with a left knee injury. Nadal, too, spent extended injury time on the sidelines in 2016.

The mixed doubles final will open the action at Rod Laver, with American Abigail Spears and Juan Sebastian Cabal playing Sania Mirza of India and Ivan Dodig.