Looking back at Federer-Nadal rivalry, looking ahead to Australian final

The Australian Open meeting will be the ninth Grand Slam final matchup between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. AP Photo, Getty Images

The men’s singles final at the Australian Open will pit ninth-seeded Rafael Nadal and 17th-seeded Roger Federer, two players whose achievements outstrip their seeds in this event.

Below, ESPN Stats & Information previews the final (3 a.m. ET Sunday, ESPN/WatchESPN).

History of the rivalry

The match will be the ninth meeting between Federer and Nadal in a Grand Slam final, the most by any tandem in men’s tennis history. Nadal has a 6-2 record in the previous matches.

This will be their 12th meeting overall in a Grand Slam. Federer has won two of three from Nadal at Wimbledon but is 0-8 everywhere else. Their most recent meeting in a Grand Slam final was at the 2011 French Open.

In all matches, Nadal leads the rivalry, 23-11, but Federer won their most recent meeting, at Basel in 2015.

Their first meeting came at the 2004 Miami Masters. Nadal won in straight sets when Federer was world No. 1. A year later at that event, Federer mounted the only successful comeback from a two-set deficit in this rivalry, rallying to defeat Nadal and avenge the previous year’s loss.

Familiar with finals

Federer will try to win his 18th Grand Slam title, extending his all-time men’s singles record. A victory would give him his fifth Australian Open title, giving him sole possession of the third-most titles at this event all time.

Notable achievements Nadal is seeking:

* His 15th career Grand Slam title, which would break a tie with Pete Sampras for the second-most behind Federer

* Becoming the third man in tennis history to win each Grand Slam twice (joining Rod Laver and Roy Emerson)

* Looking to become the third man in tennis history to win a major in his teens, 20s and 30s (Ken Rosewall and Sampras)

Federer will make his 28th Grand Slam final appearance, extending his men’s record. Nadal will make his 21st Grand Slam final appearance, tying Novak Djokovic for the second-most in men's tennis history.

Federer is making his first finals appearance at the Australian Open since 2010, which was also the last time he won in Melbourne.

Nadal has won at least one singles title in 13 consecutive seasons, an active streak that is tied for the third-longest in the open era behind those of Federer (15, 2001 through 2015) and Ivan Lendl (14, 1980 through 1993).

Federer, 35, could become the oldest man to win a major since Rosewall, at 37, won the 1972 Australian Open. The Swiss star already is the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam final since Rosewall, 39, at the 1974 US Open.

How they got here

Both Nadal and Federer have played two five-set matches entering the final, and that’s a rare occurrence.

The last time at a Grand Slam that both finalists entered having played multiple five-set matches was 20 years ago at the 1997 Australian Open with Sampras and Carlos Moya.

Did you know?

The last time one Grand Slam featured singles finals of Federer against Nadal and Serena Williams against Venus Williams was Wimbledon in 2008. Nadal and Venus Williams won the finals.

Also in 2008? Tiger Woods won his most recent major title, the U.S. Open -- at Torrey Pines, the site of his return to official PGA Tour competition this week.