Rafael Nadal reducing Roger Federer to tears among Australian Open's most memorable finals

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So on Saturday it will be Ash Barty v Danielle Collins, on Sunday it will be Rafael Nadal v Daniil Medvedev. Two intriguing, and potentially history making Australian Open finals await us, with Barty aiming to become the first ‘home’ female player to ever take the title, while Nadal is targeting an unprecedented 21st male Grand Slam title. And, as the anticiaption builds around Melbourne Park, here’s a look back on six previous finals that have lingered long in the memory.

The Serena Slam in Melbourne: Ahead of the 2003 Australian open final, siblings Serena and Venus Williams were already dominating women’s tennis. The younger sister had beaten Venus in the 2002 French Open, Wimbledon and US Open finals before setting up a chance to become the fifth woman in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

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She duly did so, but not with great comfort. Venus blew a chance when serving at 5-4 in the first set, eventually losing a tiebreak, but responded to take the second 6-3. She staved off five break points at 3-4 in the decider, but in her next service game Serena‘s pressure finally told – and her relentless march continued.

Wilander and Cash carry on into the night: There was no final-set tiebreak back in 1988 when Mats Wilander took on home favourite Pat Cash. At 6-3 4-1 up, Wilander appeared in cruise control before a rain delay proved critical, with a rejuvenated Cash returning to take second set on a tiebreak – and then the third 6-3.

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The pendulum swung again when Wilander took the fourth 6-1, and after 12 games of the decider, the final remained in the balance before Wilander decisively broke, and then held his nerve with his own service, to prevail 8-4 after four hours and 28 minutes on court. For his exploits, Cash was rewarded with blisters and bloodied feet.

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Rafael Nadal reducing Roger Federer to tears among Australian Open's most memorable finals
© GETTY Roger Federer was left in tears following defeat to Rafael Nadal

Capriati completes her comeback: Once considered a prestigious talent, few ever expected Jennifer Capriati to return to the top after she underwent rehab for a drug problem in 1994, then still a teenager. So when she claimed both the Australian and French Open in 2001, and became the world no 1, it represented a stunning renaissance.

Could she carry it into 2002? Seemingly so, after winning through to a second successive final with Martina Hingis in Melbourne. And in 95-degree heat, Capriati saved four match points against her rival before pulling off a 4-6, 7-6 6-2 victory. Never again would the American grace a Gland Slam final, but this was quite the concluding memory.

Rafa reduces Roger to tears: If anyone doubted that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could repeat the drama of their classic Wimbledon 2008 final, then they were proved wrong in January 2009. The two all-time greats went toe to toe and again, it was the Spaniard who prevailed to claim his only Australian Open title to date – winning 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2.

The action was almost overshadowed by the post-match emotion mind, with Federer famously spluttering the words “God, it’s killing me,” before breaking down in tears and being consoled by his rival.

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Seles storms back to beat Graf: While the Williams sisters dominated the early 2000s, a decade previously it was Monica Seles and Steffi Graf who were the stars of women’s tennis – and their rivalry peaked at the 1993 Australian Open.

The match inevitably went into a decider before it turned on a remarkable point. Graf, serving at 2-3 and 30-0, was left stunned as Seles hit an amazing cross-court return that landed on the line for a winner. The American went on to notch a service break, then won the final two games to complete a 4-6 6-3 6-2 success.

At just 19-years-old, it was Seles’ third straight Australian Open title, and it improved her match record at the event to 28-0. Three months later though, she was stabbed at an event in Germany and missed the next 10 Grand Slam events. She returned to win the 1996 Australian Open, but the momentum from her previous dominance was never regained.

Three but not easy for Novak: The 2012 final represented a third win at Melbourne Park for Novak Djokovic, and with it, a spot in Steve Flink’s book titled The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time.

Rafael Nadal reducing Roger Federer to tears among Australian Open's most memorable finals
© GETTY Venus and Serena Williams contested an epic final

And deservedly so, with five hours and 52 minutes of scintillating quality culminating in a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5 victory for the Serbian against Nadal.

The effort exerted by both stars was such that they struggled to stay upright during the awards ceremony, and eventually, chairs were needed.

Nadal is now preparing to do it all again this Sunday. As for Djokovic, unsure what happened to him this time around?

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