Reem Abulleil examines three takeaways from the Australian Open final, where Roger Federer claimed a 20th Grand Slam title.
Roger Federer wrote a new chapter in the history books with his five-set triumph over Marin Cilic at the Australian Open on Sunday.
His sixth success at Melbourne Park saw him join Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson at the top of the all-time list of Australian Open titles and he became the first man and just the fourth player to claim 20 or more Grand Slam trophies.
Here are the main takeaways from yet another successful major for the Swiss…
FED EXPRESS HAS ALL THE FUEL HE NEEDS
In 2009, Federer cried as he addressed the crowd on Rod Laver Arena following a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the final.
With spectators in the stands giving him a standing ovation, Federer was overcome by emotion and could barely speak. “God, it’s killing me,” the then 27-year-old Federer told his admirers.
It is nine years and seven Grand Slam titles later and Federer still treats this sport with just as much passion and emotion.
He was once again in tears on Rod Laver Arena, this time after capturing a historic 20th Grand Slam trophy on Sunday.
At 36, and with countless records to his name, Federer is somehow not yet content. It’s that passion that continues to drive him to keep going.
Cilic says it best when asked what makes Federer such an extraordinary player: “I would say first the passion to compete, season after season, especially at this high level. Then also being able to challenge himself first physically and then mentally, as well, to be at the top almost every single week.”
TIME TO FULLY APPRECIATE MARIN CILIC
No matter his ranking, or the shape he’s in, or the results under his belt, Cilic tends to get less attention than he deserves in the early rounds at the majors and flies under the radar until he’s one of the very few players left standing in the draw.
He’s made the quarter-finals or better in eight of his last 14 Slams, including three finals.
For a Grand Slam champion, Cilic is somehow often overlooked. But he’s earned his place in the world’s top-three now and continues to improve every aspect of his game. He has now made two finals in his last three majors and despite his defeat to Federer on Sunday, will have gained even more confidence from a big fortnight in Melbourne.
RACE FOR NO. 1 HEATS UP
Nadal retained his spot at the top of the rankings despite his quarter-final exit via retirement against Cilic but Federer is breathing down his neck, trailing him by a mere 155 points. Both Nadal and Federer have a lot of points to defend in the upcoming period and it’s going to be a real tug of war for the No. 1 ranking over the next few months. With Federer brimming with confidence and Nadal sidelined for three weeks nursing a leg problem, you’ve got to think the Swiss will finally reclaim that top spot before 2018 ends.