Published: Mon, January 29, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Cilic Aims to Turn-Up the Heat on Federer

Cilic Aims to Turn-Up the Heat on Federer

It is worth remembering that Federer's first grand slam singles title came in 2003 at Wimbledon aged 21, meaning his slam wins will have spanned 15 years if he can overcome Cilic in the final here.

Roger Federer has won his 20th career Grand Slam, as the 36-year-old wonder outlasted No. 6 Marin Cilic to win the Australian Open 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. His win concluded a successful defense of the dramatic Australian Open final he won previous year as a perceived washed-up No. 17-seed recovering from a knee injury who was down 1-3 in the fifth set against chief rival Rafael Nadal.

"Since the matches are late, I used to go to bed here late, around one o'clock", Federer said. "Of course, winning is an absolute dream come true - the fairytale continues for me".

Federer started to tear up at the end of the trophy ceremony as he thanked his team in the stands.

"Twenty times special. I don't know what to tell you".

Federer also becomes the only men's player to win three different major titles at least five times (Wimbledon, Australian, U.S. Open) and two different major titles at least six times (Wimbledon, Australian Open). Credit must go to Marin Cilic for his battling spirit but you can not stop Roger Federer. "This one here tonight reminded me more of maybe the 2006 win when I beat (Marcos) Baghdatis in the finals".

Federer, 36, is convinced that he's playing the best tennis of his illustrious career.

A year ago, when Federer was returning to the sport after a six-month hiatus, expectations were tempered. The arena was filled with the red and white colors of the Swiss flag, with Federer supporters wearing Swiss flags on their shirts, hats, signs and faces.

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However, Federer was struggling to find a first serve and Cilic began to crush the second one with his forehand. He managed to hold serve to make a solid start and was growing in confidence, working two break points in the next game with some sparkling groundstrokes.

But today he would be playing against himself more than Federer - a contest the sixth seed abysmally failed at Wimbledon a year ago. He served out for 6-2 in 24 minutes, only three minutes longer than Cilic took to despatch Joao Sousa in the first set of their round-two match.

It will be absolutely fascinating to see whether Marin Cilic can win against Federer on Sunday.

Federer won 81% of the points on his first serve in the last meeting against Cilic and won 60% points on return.

It seemed Federer would cruise to victory when he broke to open the fourth, but Cilic responded, breaking to love in the sixth game and taking a 5-3 lead with another forehand victor on his way to forcing a decider. The Croatian player then double-faulted twice in the second game to drop his own serve, giving Federer the decisive lead in the set.

Cilic was hampered by blisters when he lost to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final, but he has made a relatively pain-free run through the other half of the draw, including a quarterfinal win over an injured Nadal. Cilic showed remarkable composure to fight his way back into the match, breaking back to level the set at 3-3 and then broke again, winning five successive games to win the set 6-3.

If he wins, Federer will still be only the second-oldest victor of a grand slam singles title at 36 years, 173 days. It appeared as though Federer would replicate his straight-set win over Cilic from the Wimbledon final the previous July.

Former champions and commentators questioned the rationale, saying there'd been hotter days earlier in the tournament when the heat policy was not enacted. But it was more hard for me to keep it for a long period of time.

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