Roger Federer survives five-set test against Marin Cilic to claim 20th Grand Slam title
Roger Federer v Marin Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1

Roger Federer survives five-set test against Marin Cilic to claim 20th Grand Slam title

28/01/2018

Roger Federer cemented his status as the greatest male tennis player of all time by collecting his 20th Grand Slam title courtesy of a 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1 win over Marin Cilic.

Rod Laver Arena - with its roof closed, to some controversy – was treated to a dramatic occasion as the No. 2 seed secured his sixth Australian Open title, drawing level with the record set by Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic.

But it was the move to a 20th Grand Slam title – four clear of Rafa Nadal, six more than Pete Sampras and eight in advance of Djokovic and Emerson – which endowed the night with heavy symbolism as Federer showed all his cunning, grace and no little power to hold off a spirited fightback from Cilic and win in five.

"I'm so happy its unbelievable," Federer said.

"Winning is an absolute dream come true. The fairytale continues for us, and for me. After the year I had last year… its incredible."

Federer looked to be cruising towards the title at 3-1 up in the fourth, before Cilic rattled off five games in succession to leave the world number two reeling, and needing to find something extra in the fifth set. That he did as he overcame Cilic in dominant denouement.

The Swiss polished off the first set in 24 minutes as predictions that an indoor environment would play to his strengths proved prescient. Sixth seed Cilic was struggling badly with his game and only won four points in the opening four games.

The Croatian, who won only eight games and was reduced to tears as he suffered from foot blisters in a brutal three-set defeat to Federer in the Wimbledon final last year, dug deep and took the second set in a tie-break.

A break to make it 4-2 in the third proved decisive for Federer, and he appeared to be marching towards title No. 20 when he broke Cilic in the opening game of the fourth set too.

But 29-year-old Cilic drew level at 3-3 and five games in a row handed him the fourth set to ensure a dramatic conclusion.

Federer's wife Mirka was on her feet urging him on as the Swiss survived break points under intense pressure from Cilic in his first service game of the fifth set. He then immediately broke Cilic and took full advantage as his opponent collapsed.

Federer had his 20th Grand Slam title, after one of his sterner tests.

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