Roger Federer powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title in a riveting final on Sunday.
The defending champion dropped his only sets of the tournament before completing a 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over the sixth seeded Croatian in 3hr 3min.
Federer, playing in his 30th Grand Slam final, joined Novak Djokovic and Australian great Roy Emerson as joint top for the most Australian Open men’s titles.
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Roger Federer’s couldn’t control his emotions after his victory.
“The fairy tale continues for my team. It started last year in Perth. And it’s still going on. It’s unbelievable”
Here’s what Cilic had to say. Irrespective of the final result, it has been an incredible tournament for the Croatian. He will move to a career-high No 3 ranking on Monday
“It was an amazing journey to come here to the Final: it could’ve been the best two weeks of my life... It’s my honour to play in front of you.
Congratulations, Roger. It’s amazing what you do year after year. Had a great run in the last two weeks, had a chance at the beginning of the fifth, but Federer played a great set.
The final stats. Federer the little bit better in the clutch moments
Game 6: Federer serving for the championship. And he begins with an ace and holds to love. There is the championship point, or is it?
Cilic challenges and for the second year running, Roger Federer wins Australian Open after a player challenge!
Federer has won his 6th Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title with a 7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1 over Marin Cilic win in 3 hours and 3 minutes.
Game 5: Federer is double break up in the decider!
Federer gets two huge break points and converts to serve for the championship!
Game 4: The decisive game of the match? Well, it took only 66 seconds as Federer hold to love as well! 4-1
Game 4: This is very important service game for Cilic and he holds to love. Such a strong response. 3-1
Game 3: This is a sensational game! Federer serves and aces to go 30-15 up but Cilic returns a short volley with incredible athleticism – letting out an almighty roar. Federer has his focus disturbed and we have a deuce. But unforced Federer hold firm and it is Cilic who is trailing 0-3 in the decider.
Game 2: Federer gets the early break in the fifth!!
Nervy moments here: A goofed-up serve call prompts Federer’s ire against the line’s judge, Cilic double faults, Federer sends it long and then hits the net. But Cilic chips a forehand to bring up deuce and Federer challenges the call on Cilic’s second serve to get a break point and Cilic misses the crucial forehand to give up a break, probably decisive. Will the momentum swing? Federer leads 2-0 in the decider
Game 1: Attacking tennis at the on set, as Cilic takes Federer to deuce and then an unforced error gives away the break point. Federer saves it to bring up Deuce No 2 but another unforced error gives away break point No 2. Saved with a clutch serve and he holds with a whip-cord winner just on the line!
What a gritty, vital hold for Federer here.
Time for the all-important decider...
The fourth set stats. Cilic powerful on his first serve and winners, Federer needs to bring the zing back on his serve.
Game 9: Cilic, serving for the fourth set, starts with painting the lines with a gorgeous volley. Federer hits the net and commits an error on forehand to give Cilic three set points, and he doesn’t miss.
Cilic has taken the final to a decider, wins the fourth set 6-3.
Game 8: Cilic has broken Federer for 5-3!
Early boost for Cilic as he goes 0-30 up and gets two more breakpoints. Federer saves both and takes it to deuce, takes advantage. But a scintillating rally later, Cilic inches ahead with a stinging winner.
Federer fires an ace in response but another superb backhand winner from Cilic takes it back to deuce No 3 and he gets another break point and another crisp winner on his forehand gives him the big, big break.
Game 7: Cilic saves a breakpoint!
A double fault from Cilic this game and Federer has a break point back. But a splendid overhead smash from Cilic brings up deuce, followed with a timely ace and a crucial hold. He takes the lead for the first time in this set at 4-3.
Game 6: Cilic has broken Federer for the first time this final!
What is this, live-blogger’s curse? Cilic gets 3 break points on Federer’s serve aided by a double fault and errors, and converts the very first one! The fourth set is back on serve at 3-3. Cilic roaring back.
Game 5: Good serving from Cilic, under pressure. A quick hold. But the key isn’t holding here, it is attacking Federer’s serve, which hasn’t been broken as yet in the final. 3-2
Game 4: A love hold, easy as you please. Casual drop shots et al. Federer leads 3-1.
Game 3: A double fault from Cilic as the pressure is showing, bit he manages to level at 30-30 with a neat down the line winner.
Another double fault gives Federer the break point, saved by another straight forehand winner.
Followed with an ace and and forced backhand error to manage a gritty gold. He trails 1-2 and by 2 sets to 1.
Game 2: Ridiculous point from Federer there, and he holds for 2-0.
Cilic looking increasingly frustrated with himself here, has to do something extraordinary to stay alive.
Game 1: Federer breaks Cilic in the very first game!
Foot on the pedal, Federer returns with authority and forces basic errors from the sixth seed. He has take the early initiate in what could be the final set of this final.
On to Set 4...
The stats from the third set. Federer just about superior in every aspect but the second serve,
A mark of a champion, the ability to step on the gas at clutch times.
Game 9: Federer looking to serve out the set, starts with a cleanly-placed forehand winner and a wide-angled service winner. Cilic hits the net to give away three set points but needs only one as he fires an ace, easy as you please.
Federer wins the third set 6-3 in just about half an hour.
Game 8: Cilic serving to stay in the set, holds to love. 5-3
Game 7: Great game, this. Cilic going for all his shots and what a rally! Federer hit that forehand off his shoelaces, and Cilic misses. An ace but a few, nervy seconds later, Federer holds for 5-2.
Game 6: Federer gets the crucial break!
Federer, playing some smart tennis on a cross-court, gets three break points. He squanders one with an unforced error but Cilic’s own rising, count of errors gives him the break at 4-2. Could be huge in context of the match.
Game 5: Cilic’s forehand return winners are getting more and more powerful, good intent on Federer;s serve. He takes it to 30-40, but the Swiss holds for 4-3.
Game 4: Cilic holds for 2-2, defending well here to keep serve.
Game 3: Another good, ace-studded hold from Federer. Cilic is chipping away at the serve, but too many unforced of his own there. 2-1
Meanwhile, here is the Australian Open’s official statement on the roof closure.
It wasn’t closed for the women’s final yesterday, which had the heat rule in effect and both players needing medical attention. Halep, the runner-up, needed hospitalization for dehydration as well, according to reports
Game 2: Cilic holds for 2-2, with a neat little backhand winner.
Game 1: Federer starts the third set with a quick hold.
On to Set Three...
Huge moment this for Cilic, as he roars right back in the final. It is no longer on Federer’s terms as it looked in the first set.
First point to Cilic as Federer hits his backhand long after a good, cross-court rally.
Federer makes it 1-1 with peach of an ace. Make that 2-1 with a nice, angled ace.
Cilic levels 2-2 with a well-anticipated volley, good point for him.
Federer responds with a cross-court forehand winner that brings his box to their feet.
With a fiery forehand return to Federer’s serve, Cilic makes it 3-3.
4-3 for Federer as Cilic fudges his backhand.
Federer gets the net and we are at 4-4. Nerves, nerves.
Cilic’s big serve forces Federer to go long and it is 5-4.
Cilic gets 2 set points with a booming forehand winner. Federer responds with an ace. 6-5
Cilic has taken the second set in a tight Tiebreak! He wins it 7-6(5) in a set that lastes an hour with no breaks of serve.
Game 12: Federer with a love hold of his own takes the second set to a Tiebreak!
Game 11: A love hold from Cilic! He is steadying his nerves to keep him alive here. 6-5
Game 10: Federer doubles fault to begin the game, but then forces an error with a wide serve. A hit at the net gives Cilic an inch in this crucial game at 30-15, 5-4, but the Swiss responds with a precise ace.
And then promptly double faults to give Cilic the set point, who commits a nervous unforced error to go to deuce.
Much better serving from the Swiss & more errors from the Croat, as the set goes to 5-5.
Cilic really failing to convert the clutch moments here, he won’t get many easy chances as that set point.
Game 9: Another break point for Federer this set, this time with a threading the needle backhand. But Cilic saves that with an ace, perfect down to the T. Another kicked up serve gives him the advantage and he holds with a forehand winner. There comes the fist pump, as it should: important hold this for 5-4.
Game 8: There comes the double fault from Federer, followed at once by an ace. A little bit of a stretch but he holds for 4-4. This set is ripe for a Tiebreak.
Game 7: Attacking Cilic’s second serve is working well for Federer so far but the Cilic is kicking his serve to good effect. A 214 kmp serve!
A shank from Federer and another neat ace gives Cilic a quick hold. 4-3.
Game 6: Stunning volley from Federer in this game and he holds to love with a nice little ace. That game lasted only 63 seconds! 3-3
Game 5: A rally of moonballs and Cilic prevails in the third of the overhead smashes.
But Federer gets another break point, this time off a stunning forehand winner just down the line. And out comes the fist pump!
Cilic takes it to deuce though, and serves it out with a sharp, perfect, wide ace. He holds for 3-2.
Game 4: Another strong forehand winner from Cilic, he is slowly hitting his groove. But Federer on serve is too strong and holds for another quick game for 2-2.
Look at the backhand winner!!
Game 3: Game of the match! It lasted 9 minutes and 23 seconds.
Cilic had served well but finds himself facing a break point after deuce. Saves it with a ‘Hail Mary’ ace, just on the line for second deuce. He gets the advantage when Federer shoots a backhand long but fails to convert with another hit at the net.
Third deuce and this game is already at 7 minutes.
Deuce No 4 and Cilic smacks a forehand winner as Federer leaves a huge part of the court exposed.
Fifth deuce, courtesy a exquisite backhand winner down the line from Federer.
A solid rally and Federer dances cross court, sending one just long on forehand.
And it is big, vital hold for Cilic!! Federer has knocked on in the net and it will be a huge sigh of relief for the sixth seed!
Game 2: Cilic has two break points in Federer’s first service game! A smooth backhand winner has Federer short.
But the Swiss ace saves both – with an ace and crisp forehand down the line. He manages to hold, forcing errors from Cilic. He blows a clutch moment away, could prove costly given the way the match is headed.
Game 1: Cilic serves much better to hold for 1-0.
Time for the second set.
A look at the stats from the first set. Federer wins double the points with a superb first serve percent. He ran away with it.
Game 8: Federer serving for the set. Cilic creams a running forehand to make sure this isn’t a love hold. And then comes an ace, and then another and a back hand error from Cilic gives him the set.
Federer takes the first set 6-2 in 24 minutes.
Game 7: Cilic serving to stay in the set, starts with two aces and holds to love. Much better serving from the Croat.
Game 6: Quick, love hold from Federer again, with a sweet ace. This set is going to be over rather quick, no? 5-1
Game 5: The Cilic we know is returning? A cracking ace, finally and much more commanding show at the net for a winner. Some unforced errors from Federer this time, and Cilic gets his first game of the match. 4-1.
Game 4: Another quick service game for Federer, but Cilic shows some spark with a solid forehand winner. He will need a lot more of those. 4-0.
Game 3: Federer is a double break up and it has only been 3 games!
Cilic’s own unforced errors not helping matters and he changes his racquets down 0-30.
But that doesn’t change much as Federer gets 3 break points. He saves the first with a backhand winner as Federer slips at the baseline.
But he sends the ball long and goes down 0-3 in the first set. Federer all over this match already!
Game 2: A quick, love hold follows as Federer gets a 2-0 lead. Cilic trying to mix up his returns but the forehand is too strong.
Game 1: Federer breaks in the very first service game!
Gets a break point off a backhand winner even and then Cilic fudges an overhead smash to give first blood to the defending champion.
It’s time! Cilic has won the coin toss and elected to serve first. Here we go...
The final will be played under a closed roof as the heat policy is implemented. It is 38 degrees Celsius in Melbourne. Advantage Federer?
Our correspondent Oindrilla Mukherjee is in Melbourne for the final.
Read our preview for the final: For a relaxed Roger Federer, Marin Cilic offers a familiar yet tough challenge
Fun Facts about Federer vs Cilic:
- Roger Federer and Marin Cilic will be playing each other in their second Grand Slam final. The Swiss great breezed past the Croatian in straight sets at last year’s Wimbledon final but a tearful Cilic played in pain from a nasty foot blister. He had previously conquered Federer in three sets in the semi-finals on the way to his 2014 US Open triumph. Overall, Federer leads 8-1, and 3-1 at Slams.
- Federer at 36 is bidding to win a third Major title after turning 35. Australian great Ken Rosewall is the only other man to have won a Slam title after his 35th birthday in the post-1968 Open Era, at 37 years old in the 1972 Australian Open
- Cilic is the first Croatian man or woman to play in an Australian Open final and is bidding to become the country’s first multiple major winner ahead of Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli, who won one each. Ivanisevic has played in more major finals – four to Cilic’s three.
- If Federer wins the final in straight sets he will equal Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles at three without dropping a set through the tournament. It would be the second time for Federer at the Australian Open after powering through the 2007 event without losing a set.
- Federer and Cilic practised together last month when they discovered, by accident, they were holidaying together in the Maldives. “It was just the two of us and we were both looking for a hitting partner and it happened that we were there,” Federer said. “We actually went to practise twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid-back.”
Only Marin Cilic stands between Roger Federer and a 20th Grand Slam title as an injury-ravaged Australian Open staggers to its Sunday final at Melbourne Park.
The 36-year-old continues to defy the years and attrition rate to reach his 30th Grand Slam decider and a shot at his sixth Australian crown. The Swiss is yet to drop a set and five of Federer’s six matches have finished on or under two hours and he has been on court for a total of 10hr 50min, some 6hr 13mins less than Cilic.
However, Cilic is a Grand Slam winner himself, and had defeated Federer in the semi-finals en route his 2014 US Open triupmh. Can he repeat that? Or will Federer prove to be too strong for him?