Pat Cash accuses Roger Federer of cheating during Australian Open 2017 final

By @saihoops on
Roger Federer, Australian Open 2017
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 29/1/17 Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts next to Switzerland's Roger Federer who is holding the trophy after winning his Men's singles final match. Reuters / Edgar Su

Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, reckons Roger Federer's lengthy break before the start of the fifth set during Sunday's Australian Open 2017 final against Rafael Nadal was "legal cheating" and helped the Swiss master claim his career 18th Grand Slam.

Federer, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee last February, was playing in his first Grand Slam event since last year's Wimbledon and admittedly surprised himself by reaching the final. The 35-year-old needed a time-out during his semi-final win over countryman Stan Wawrinka, too, and Cash is of the opinion that while the medical break is within the rules of the sport, it presents an unfair advantage to aging players. 

"You can't just stop a marathon if you're tired... I can't stress how bad this (tournament) has been supervised or looked at by the medical team here in the whole tour," Cash, a native of Australia, told BBC’s Radio 5 Live in the aftermath of Federer's 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory over Nadal. "It's wrong, wrong and wrong... It's cheating and it's being allowed. It's legal cheating but it's still not right," added Cash, via stuff.co.nz.

Australian Open 2017: Roger Federer defends lengthy medical break 

After requiring a little over three-and-a-half hours to beat Nadal for his first Grand Slam title since the 2012 Wimbledon, Federer defended his integrity during the post-tournament press conference. "My leg has been hurting me since the (second round) match (against Noah Rubin). I was able to navigate through the pain. For some reason against Stan (Wawrinka) I had it from the start on both sides of the groin.

Federer fired back at Cash's comments by suggesting that the Aussie was unfair in his criticism. “I felt my quad midway through the second set already, and the groin started to hurt midway through the third set. I just told myself, the rules are there that you can use them. We shouldn’t be using these rules or abusing the system. I think I’ve led the way for 20 years. So I think to be critical there is exaggerating. I’m the last guy to call a medical timeout. I don’t know what he’s (Cash) talking about."

After Federer and Nadal benefitted from the early ousters of top seeds Andy Murray and Novaj Djokovic, several analysts opined that Sunday's match could go down in the history books as their last-ever Grand Slam final match. Though the match paled in comparison to past Federer-Nadal classics such as the 2008 Wimbledon final and 2009 Australian Open final, it lived up to the hype seeing as both legends are in the final stages of their career.

Roger Federer is now the only player in history to win three Grand Slam events on five different occasions. Besides seven Wimbledon and five US Open championships, the Swiss master captured his fifth Australian Open title at the Rod Laver arena against a player he has tipped as his "greatest opponent ever".