Grand Slam Number 20 for the GOAT as he added yet another trophy to the cabinet with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in 3 hours and 3 minutes.
Twelve months on from defeating Nadal in that thrilling five-setter the Swiss continues to write more records and improve on what is already an unparalleled legacy. He's now the joint all-time leader for Norman Brookes Challenge Cup's with 6 (tied Djokovic & Emerson) and at the ripe old age of 36, he's been able to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time since the US Open in 2008. peRFect.
Quick Match Recap
Cilic won the toss and elected to serve. The Croat produced a nervy start missing an overhead he should have let bounce on break point as Roger broke for 1-0. That was consolidated to love and a double break then put Roger up 3-0.
With the set all but over Cilic needed to find his feet and he managed to get on the board in game five and hold again for 2-5 before Roger sealed the set to 15.
Into set two and Cilic was able to fashion his first break point of the match, only to see it saved with a big inside in forehand from the Swiss. Roger then had break points of his own in games three, five and nine but Cilic held firm and the set resulted in a tie-break.
Into the tie-break and Roger struck first hitting a nice backhand to move up a mini-break only for Cilic to come up with a big return and the former US Open champion stole momentum to take the breaker 7-5.
Set three started in cagey fashion with neither playing really taking initiative from the baseline. But at 2-3 Roger took advantage to break when Cilic only made one first serve in the game. He consolidated for 5-2 and then served out the set 6-3 to put himself back in front.
With a four-set Federer win looking likely he got off to a dream start breaking and holding to love for 2-0. However, in game six the Swiss played a disaster service game as his first serve crumbled (he was serving at just 38% for the set at this point) and Cilic hit back to level at 3-3. Cilic then held for 4-3 and although Roger saved two break points in game eight he couldn't hold off a third as Cilic broke and served out the set 6-3.
Another five-set Australian Open final for the GOAT ensued and he had to come up with some clutch play in the opening game, saving two break points before hitting a ridiculous crosscourt backhand to hold. Buoyed by the hold Federer was able to up his intensity, finally connecting with an aggressive backhand on the return to break for 2-0. A hold to 30 put him up 3-1 and in game five Roger held in just 66 seconds to lead 4-1 and put the pressure back on Cilic. That pressure told as the Croat dropped serve to 15 and Roger then served out his 20th Slam title to love, again winning a Hawkeye challenge on match point to take it 6-1. Allez!
|First serve % in||62%||60%|
|Win % in 1st serve||69% (61/88)||80% (67/84)|
|Win % in 2nd serve||51% (27/53)||58% (32/55)|
|Break points won %||22% (2/9)||46% (6/13)|
|Total points won||128||152|
An emotional one from Fed! The press naturally all talk of retirement but like I said on Twitter, which he later he confirmed, it all spilt out because he's not really had or needed to let much emotion out during the two weeks of play – easy-ish route to the final and then a bit of a up and down final without too much tension.
Thoughts on the Match
20GER! 20th slam title in the bag for Fed and he's now won three slams after the age of 35 which is just unheard of. He was one of the pre-tournament favourites going in, certainly the favourite once he'd made the final and he was able to deliver when it mattered. Not the best tennis you will see him play but he served well when he needed to (barring that 4th set!) and just had too much experience on the day for Cilic who played well in patches but never really looked like the winner out there.
In terms of the match, I thought both guys were quite up and down. Federer got off to a perfect start with Cilic looking very tentative in the opening exchanges. But then Marin then played a very solid second set to level after Roger struggled in the tie-break. The third saw Fed reset mentally and he served impeccably throughout to get back in front, but the fourth was the strangest of the match with Roger's head clearly scrambled. His first serve went AWOL (his first serve was 36% for the set) and he was having to play reactive tennis which is not his game. It looked like he'd made the mistake of thinking about crossing the finishing line and Cilic needed no second invitation to start dictating play with his forehand off the ground.
Saving that breakpoint at the start of the fifth was obviously a huge moment for Fed and it gave him a big boost mentally. He must have got a nice extra dose of energy too when he saw Mirka, Severin and Ivan all giving it the fist pumps in the box and from there he was able to wrestle control to break in the next game as Cilic faded. We even got a standard run-in with Jake Garner with Fed giving him a piece of his mind for not reminding him when new balls were due saying: “Talk to me, talk to me, 3-0 in the fifth I can't do it all by myself” 😆 fortunately no self-destruction a la 2009 here and he got himself over the line to record another peRFect result.
So another Slam done, perhaps not a blockbuster tournament overall like we had last year but you just have to admire the level of tennis Fed is able to produce week in week out. His unique style of tennis, a great team with Ivan and Severing cooking up the tactics, plus Mirka and the rest of his team/family supporting him all the way is a great recipe for success and he's able to keep that competitive fire burning and deliver career title number ninety-six.
Anyway, enough from me, I will leave the rest of the superlatives to you guys. Let me know what you thought of the final in the comments below 🙂
New limited edition shirt. How did they design and produce this just hours after his win? 😆 What do you think? Available here on Nike.com and Tennis Point.