Debate over; Roger Federer is without doubt the greatest men's tennis player of all time.

Last night's dramatic win over his nemesis Rafael Nadal will go down in history as one of the all time great Grand Slam finals. It was a match that ebbed and flowed. Nadal had his chances as he always does, but Federer's aggressive approach eventually paid off.

What struck me was Federer's tactics which were pure genius. Through 34 previous matches against the Spanish bullfighter, Federer had persisted with the slice backhand return which more often than not was a defensive play. Nadal invariably dictated play from the baseline with his heavy top spin ground strokes and lethal forehand.

However last night we hardly saw a slice from Federer; instead he stood on the baseline, driving aggressive backhand and forehand returns back at Nadal and for long periods was able to dictate.


As it happened: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, Australian Open final

Federer had clearly seen Grigor Dimitrov employ a similar approach in the semifinals and such is his brilliance was able to abandon habits of a lifetime, and come out on top.

An 18th Grand Slam title, nearly five years after his last, becoming the oldest Grand Slam champion since 1972, and achieving it on the back of a six month injury lay off is a remarkable feat.

Add to that the difficulty of the draw, Tomas Berdych in the third round, Kei Nishikori in the 4th round, Stan Wawrinka in the semis and his great rival Rafa in the final, this will be remembered as Federer's greatest achievement.

Reaction: Roger Federer's 18th grand slam

He's become the first player to win three of the four Grand Slams five times and remember for a long time Federer was the second best player in the world on clay. He lost four French Open finals to Nadal before his lone success at Roland Garros in 2009.

The last few years have seen many critics question why Federer has kept on playing when he has fallen from the lofty heights after dominating the game between 2004 and 2009.
In recent years younger players Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have surpassed him.

It's true after he lost the Wimbledon and US Open finals back to back to Djokovic in 2015, I didn't think Federer would win another Slam, but never questioned his right to keep playing. Federer the great competitor had earned the right to go out on his own terms.

The decline of Federer over the past few years has been overstated. He's been in the semi finals or better of the last five Grand Slams he's played.

Some had also questioned whether his matches against Nadal constituted a rivalry. Head to head the Spaniard has dominated winning 23 to Federer's 12. But aside from at the French Open they've played in some Grand Slam epics over the years and last night's thriller in Melbourne will have the tennis world hoping for more astonishing battles between the two legends.

Australian Open 5 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017)
French Open 1 (2009)
Wimbledon 7 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012)
US Open 5 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)