Roger Federer took his already superb tally of Grand Slam titles from 19 to 20 when he beat Marin Cilic in a pulsating five setter that saw both players stretched and work hard. In over three hours, Federer beat Cilic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to successfully defend his Australian Open crown. Cilic, on the other hand, remained on one Grand Slam titles and suffered a second successive final defeat to Federer. They had met last at Wimbledon last year but that final was affected with an injury ailment for Cilic. On Sunday, under a closed Rod Laver Arena roof, Federer was pushed all the way and dropped a set for the first time in the fortnight. The title takes Federer’s Australian Open tally to six and joins him with Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf as the only players to have 20 or more major singles titles.
Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic, Australian Open Final, Scores and Updates:
1719 hrs IST: Roger Federer, first man to win 20 Grand Slam titles, steps up next to pick up the Norman Brookes Trophy. He lifts it aloft and the crowd cheers in unison. Goes on to kiss it. “It’s been a long day. It is really easier to play in the afternoon. You think about it all the day. Winning is a dream come true. The fairy tale continues for us and for me. It is incredible. Congratulations to Marin for being here and for reaching World No 3, it is a great achievement. We came here in Perth and it has been fantastic here in Australia. Would like to thank everyone at the tournament. Came here for the Sydney Olympics and have the best organisers. This is a beautiful arena and great to have Rod Laver in attendance. Want to thank all the people who made this special. You guys make this great, special, make me want to practice and just thank you. Marin’s team, too, you guys worked hard so good luck. And to my team too.”
1713 hrs IST: Marin Cilic first up to take the trophy and the microphone: “Big congratulations to Roger and his team. It was a great job and all the best for 2018. Today was a tough match, I had a slight chance but he was better in the fifth set. Thanks to my team who were unbelievable. We have made an unbelievable start to the year and hope to win more trophies in the future. Thanks to the tournament for all that you do. It is an honour to play in front of you and hope to play here for many years to come. Really thank you for the support and thanks to the fans back home. Just hope 2018 is going to be a great year.”
1710 hrs IST: The organisers thank the players, the sponsors and the people who make it a completely smooth tournament for another great fortnight.
1701 hrs IST: If it wasn’t in Federer’s hands already, it is now right there. Cilic nets the forehand and Federer to serve for the championship. Ace out wide and it is 15-0. Now down the tee and Cilic fails to return. 30-0. Cilic sends a deep forehand wide and THREE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS. Serve on the line and Cilic fails to return. Cilic reviews but it is in. Federer wins his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title with 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Marin Cilic
1656 hrs IST: Federer looks to have composed himself and is edging towards the title. 66 seconds to hold serve and first love hold after five games. He takes a 4-1 lead in the fifth set
1651 hrs IST: Cilic sends his forehand wide and Federer holds after being stretched on this serve. 3-0 in the fifth set
1643 hrs IST: Cilic with a double fault and Federer has a look in on this service game early in the fifth set. But he comes back with a deep serve which is sent long by Federer. Another big serve sets up chances for Cilic to attack the ball and he does so. Eventually ekes out an error. But follows it up with one of his own. Deuce. A double fault – pointed out by Federer by use of the challenge – brings up break point for Federer. BREAK! Cilic nets his backhand and Federer gets the break of serve! 2-0 in the fifth set
1637 hrs IST: After 2 hours and 35 minutes, we enter the fifth set and Cilic is oozing confidence. The Croatian looking extremely threatening and it has not stopped at the changeover. Has two break points and lets go of both. Both times with an unforced error. Deuce now. Once again he has Federer stretching on the backhand and the slice is long. Another break point chance and Federer with a big serve to force Cilic into an error. Federer lets out a scream of anguish. Cilic tries to go deep into the Federer forehand but little too much on it. Chance for Federer to hold. Federer with a cross court backhand winner to hold his serve. Living dangerously is Federer.
1632 hrs IST: Simple and comfortable hold at love for Cilic. He takes the fourth set 6-3 and we’re going the distance on Rod Laver Arena for the second straight year.
1622 hrs IST: Cilic has a look into this service game too. Powerful forehand on the stretch cross court by Cilic and Federer can do nothing but fluff it into the net. And the Croat now has a chance to break once again. Cilic’s return is deep into Federer’s body and the forehand return is wide. Two break points. One saved despite a Federer return that looked wide, crowd with their own groan as it landed just in. Another chance still. Cilic goes for a winner on the backhand but it is wide. Huge chance wasted. Deuce. Big serve and Cilic sends the return long. Another outstanding rally and Cilic comes out on top with some immaculate deep returns. Federer with an ace – the 20th – to bring up game point. Cilic keeps things going with a backhand winner cross court. Missed this shot on the break point earlier but gets it right this time. Federer sends his backhand wide after a long rally. Cilic with another break chance. Forehand on one side and then another and Cilic has got it! CILIC BREAKS FEDERER TO LEAD 5-3!
1618 hrs IST: Federer has a chance to come right back and take lead in this fourth set. Cilic with a backhand into the net and it brings up a break point. Saved with a forehand into the open court and then smashed. Goes on to hold serve in the end. Survives the blip.
1614 hrs IST: CILIC BREAKS BACK! Cilic suddenly has the confidence back. Has the oomph factor back. And he’s forced Federer into an error to bring the fourth set back on serve. 3-3 now
1610 hrs IST: Just came across this stat and it blew my mind! And it looks like we’re headed towards this incredible statistic.
1608 hrs IST: This is annihilation by Federer now. Fantastic big serves and then volley them dead into the service boxes. To add to the brilliance, holds serve with a sublime drop shot. As one does in the final….
1602 hrs IST: Cilic with a double fault and everything is going awry for the Croatian now. Break point for Federer. Kick serve, thundering strokes from Cilic’s forehand before opening up the court and sending it deep towards Federer’s right. Follows it up with an ace. Another bunch of free flowing forehands and Cilic holds.
1558 hrs IST: Cilic nets his backhand and Federer has a chance to break early in this fourth set. Big serve but the angled return is short and tricky to handle. Cilic tries to play it for a drop shot but it falls into the net. Federer breaks early and is 1-0 up in the fourth!
1553 hrs IST: Federer serving for the third set at 5-3. A spring in his step. Big serve and cross court forehand winner to complete the job. Another big serve, no return. 30-0. Make that two serves without a response. This one is into Cilic’s body. Three set points. And closes it out with an ace out wide. Cilic takes the third set 6-3 in 29 minutes to go two sets to one up
1551 hrs IST: Cilic to serve to stay in this third set at 2-5. Federer nets the backhand on the first point of the game. Another error on the return of serve. Cilic goes 30-0 up. Wild forehand and Federer sends his shot well wide. Another error on the serve return and Cilic with a comfortable hold.
1546 hrs IST: Cilic sends the backhand wide and Federer gets the break of serve to edge ahead in the third set. Leads 3-2. His box is up and making plenty of noise. The Swiss player clenches his fist in celebration. Comes back and consolidates his break of serve.
1524 hrs IST: TIEBREAK: Cilic with a spectacular forehand winner that kisses the sideline on its way. Gets the minibreak. Federer comes right back with an ace. Set point for Cilic. Federer with a lob and Cilic smashes it into the open court to take the second set 7-6 (5).
1523 hrs IST: TIEBREAK: Federer’s forehand hits the top of the net. Doesn’t go over though. 4-4 now. Big, big serve down the center, Federer gets his racket on it but the power is too much to keep it down. 5-4 now in the tiebreak.
1519 hrs IST: TIEBREAK: Cilic roars right back with a winner on the Federer serve. Has the mini break right back. Cilic with a poor serve return and Federer edges forward. Still on serve though.
1519 hrs IST: TIEBREAK: Cilic with deep shots and it produces a loopy return from Federer. Cilic already moving forward, angles his volley beautifully. 2-2. Federer gets the first mini break of the tiebreak with a superb deep angled shot. It produces a short reply, Federer moves in for the forehand winner. Goes 3-2 up.
1518 hrs IST: TIEBREAK: Cilic holds his serve with booming backhands deep into the court. Federer tries to slice it deep but gets too much on it. Ace down the center to make it 1-1. Federer goes up to 10 aces in the match. Make that 11. This time it is out wide.
1516 hrs IST: Federer with a comfortable hold at love and we’re into the tiebreak in the second set.
1510 hrs IST: Poor service game from Federer. Making odd errors and putting this set in Cilic’s hands. But the Croatian doesn’t capitalise on the opportunity. Set point up, Cilic nets his backhand. Federer comes back with strong groundstrokes and then holds. 5-5 in the second set
1502 hrs IST: New balls and important for Cilic to hold here. 4-4 in the second set. Thin margins in such contests and that has been proven true with Federer missing a drop pickup by centimetres. The Croatian then goes on to shank his backhand. Trying too much on the backhand and missing the line. 30-30. The approach shot isn’t good enough – straight into Federer’s path, on the backhand and it is sent past Cilic. Break point. WOW! What a second serve. Plenty of zip and kick on that second serve down the centre. Deuce. Another big serve out wide and Federer desperately tries to get it back but fails. Chance to hold. Fantastic inside-out forehand into the open court by Cilic and he holds to make it 5-4.
1450 hrs IST: Twice in this game Federer has climbed on to the Cilic serve, moved into the court and taken on the serve. It brings up break point but Cilic comes back with three huge serves out wide to keep the second set on the serve.
1448 hrs IST: WOWZA! HIGHLIGHT REEL! Federer prolongs the point by picking up two smashes from deep outside the court. Cilic thumping the smashes and Federer picking up twice by stretching himself before the Croatian succeeds in finding the open part of the court.
1437 hrs IST: Cilic tries to go for a backhand down the line winner but it hits the top of the net. Break point chance for Federer. And it is saved with a HUGE serve. 198kmph serve out wide. It is called wide but Cilic immediately goes for the HawkEye and it has indeed kissed the line on its way. Deuce. Big serve down the tee, Federer’s return is long. Another chance to hold for the Croatian. Once again he goes for a bit too much with the angle. Cooks it too much and the unforced errors count continues to rise. Big serve and winner on the forehand. Federer comes back with backhand winner down the line on the Cilic serve. Early into the return and giving Cilic no time to fetch that. Back to deuce – fifth of the game. Mishit on the forehand from Federer and it goes long. Almost uncharacteristic from the Swiss given how he’s played today. This game goes past the nine minute mark. Federer nets his backhand and Cilic holds to make it 2-1 in the second set.
1434 hrs IST: Federer dropped only two points on serve in the first set. Now to open the second set, Cilic has two break point opportunities and both have been squandered. Or saved if you will. On to 1-1 in the second set.
1425 hrs IST: FIRST SET ROGER FEDERER! The Swiss continues to blitz past Cilic. Once again, he’s not pushed on the serve. Cilic sends the serve wide and Federer takes the opening set 6-2 in just 26 minutes
1421 hrs IST: Cilic is pushing it through. Still fighting and battling to keep this set going. Holds to make it 2-5. Chance for Federer to close it out now.
1417 hrs IST: Cilic led 30-0 in the service game. Federer got it back to 30-30 before Cilic holds with two bold points. One by putting away a volley at the net and then a strong serve down the tee which doesn’t get a reply. Avoids the bagel.
1413 hrs IST: Hello and Good Afternoon! Some technical glitches and I’m a a bit late to get you the updates. I’m not the only one who is off to a slow and sluggish start. So is Cilic who has been broken twice already in the first set. Federer goes 4-0 up and it is not even 15 minutes inside the final.
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