Australian Open: Emotional Roger Federer powers past Marin Cilic for 20th Grand Slam title

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A tearful Roger Federer

A tearful Roger Federer powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five riveting sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday.

The Swiss defending champion dropped his only sets of the tournament before completing a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 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.

“I’m so happy it’s unbelievable. This is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for me,” Federer said at the presentation.

“After the great year last year, it’s incredible,” the 36-year-old added as he broke down in tears.

Federer added to his already imposing win-loss record in Melbourne and is now 94-13. His overall his Grand Slam mark stands at 332-52.

“It was an amazing journey to come to the final. It could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set,” Cilic said.

“I want to thank my team, you’re unbelievable. We worked hard for this year, hopefully we will lift these trophies in the future.”

The roof was closed over Rod Laver Arena as the tournament’s heat policy was implemented amid evening temperatures of 38°C.

Cilic’s serve came under immediate pressure with a whipping backhand return winner for break point which the Croatian followed with a smash into the net for a break in the opening game.

The Croat was finding it difficult to settle and changed racquets in his second service game, but it had no obvious benefit as he dropped serve again after three break points to trail 0-3.

He finally held serve to get on the board but the Swiss star was too good, serving out the set in just 24 minutes after a shaky Cilic opening.

BIG MOMENT

Federer fought off two break points in his opening service in the second set with pinpoint serves, while Cilic had a tussle before holding in the third game.

Cilic worked his way back into the match as both players traded furious forehands to stay on serve. Cilic was break point down in the ninth, but crucially got out of it with a second serve ace down the middle followed by a forehand winner.

The Croat had a big moment in the 10th game when two Federer double faults gave him set point, but a tentative backhand into the net and a wild backhand cost him his chance.

In the tiebreaker, Cilic got to two set points when his forehand clipped the line before a winning smash levelled the match as Federer dropped his first set of the tournament.

But Cilic lost serve on the back of a couple of ground stroke errors and Federer raced 4-2 up in the third set.

The defending champion shifted gears with a stunning forehand off his toes and confidently held serve to lead 5-2 before clinically serving out the set in 29 minutes.

Cilic was then broken in the opening game of the fourth set with a poor backhand dropshot into the net as Federer closed in for the kill.

But the Croat broke back in the sixth game with three break points when Federer netted and fought off a break point in the next game to put his nose in front.

Cilic was now more in the flow and broke Federer again with his big forehands starting to find their mark. He served it out to take the absorbing final into a fifth.

But Federer stayed calm and produced quality backhands to hold on to his serve amid mounting tension.

The world No.2 crucially broke to 2-0 and got a vital double break when Cilic netted a forehand, leaving him to serve out for the championship.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Alize Cornet under investigation for missing three random drug tests

Reem 25/01/2018
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Frenchwoman Alize Cornet has been placed under a disciplinary investigation after missing three random drug tests, anti-doping officials said Thursday.

The 27-year-old, ranked 42 in the world, missed the tests in a 12-month period with the French Tennis Federation (FFT) saying she would not be considered for Fed Cup duty while the inquiry was ongoing.

The International Tennis Federation’s Tennis Anti-Doping Programme said Cornet was charged on January 11 with “a violation of Article 2.4 — (failing three times in any 12-month period … to be available for testing at the declared whereabouts)”.

Cornet issued a statement claiming the ITF “didn’t want to hear” her reasons for the missed tests, but the tennis body disputed this.

It said all the correct processes were “followed in all three instances”.

“No further comment will be made pending determination of the case, except as may be necessary to respond to public comment by Ms. Cornet or her representatives,” it added.

Cornet could be banned from the sport as World Anti-Doping Agency rules allow for a suspension of up to two years.

However, that could be halved depending on the degree of fault. cornet will now have to prove that she had a legitimate reason for missing one of the tests.

Cornet was last in action at the Australian Open in Melbourne where she was knocked out in the third round by Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens.

The Frenchwoman needed a medical timeout in that clash, complaining of the effects of 40-degree heat. She went on to lambast tournament officials for treating players like “robots”.

“Among the 20 anti-doping controls that I had in the 2017 season, which were all negative of course, I missed three unannounced controls at home because of valuable reasons that the ITF didn’t want to hear,” she wrote in a Twitter statement Wednesday.

“My case will be presented in a hearing in March. I promise you to stay strong during this tough time.”
Cornet, who reached a career high of 11 in the world in 2009 and has won five singles titles, will not be considered for the French Fed Cup team’s World Group tie against Belgium on February 10 and 11.

“Pending the decision of the international disciplinary bodies, Pierre Cherret, the interim national technical director, in full agreement with Yannick Noah, the captain of the France team, decided to allow Alize Cornet prepare her defence and, therefore, not to name her in the team to be named next week,” the FFT said.

“The French Tennis Federation, despite the consequences that the absence of Alize Cornet is likely to cause for the France team on a sporting level, wishes to reaffirm its firm determination to see the anti-doping program of the ITF be fully implemented.”

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Is it finally time to rethink the number of mandatory tournaments in tennis?

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Covering men’s tennis the past couple of years has felt like writing reviews of Grey’s Anatomy episodes.

Keeping track of all the injuries that have ravaged the tour and sidelined many of its top stars for extended periods of time has resulted in me having a an orthopedic surgeon on speed dial to be able to get expert opinion each time a player announces his bad news.

Injury is part of any professional sport – that is not debatable. But it’s also worrying when so many of tennis’ top stars are spending more time off the court nursing physical problems.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, Kevin Anderson… these are just a few of many players who have been forced to spend time away from tennis at some point during the past two years because of injuries.

Djokovic walked away from the Australian Open in pain over his ongoing elbow problem that kept him out of the game for six months in 2017. Murray wasn’t able to compete in Melbourne after undergoing hip surgery for a problem that also had kept him sidelined since Wimbledon last year. Wawrinka had double knee surgery last August and missed the same amount of time as Djokovic did, with his return at the Australian Open short-lived as he still works on regaining full fitness.

Nadal’s latest setback was an inner hip muscle problem that hampered him during his five-set loss to Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. It will require him to rest for three weeks.

He told reporters at Melbourne Park that officials running the ATP tour should investigate all these injuries and think about the health of their players – who are essentially the tour’s product that brings in all the money and attention.

Nadal, Murray and many others have long made the argument that the ATP should adjust the schedule, which runs from January until late November each year.

Cilic does not agree and said on Tuesday that it’s up to the players to choose a schedule that suits them and that cutting down on tournaments would hurt the tour and its global reach.

But that’s easier said than done. Players aren’t that free to choose tournaments. There is a minimum number of events players are required to compete in: eight mandatory Masters 1000s, four Grand Slams, ATP Finals (if they qualified), four ATP 500s, one of which must be in the period after the US Open, and two more from 250s or other tiers.

If you’re someone like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray, then you’ve been contesting all these events for more than a decade, making it deep into the draws of most of them. Those aren’t players who have a couple of good tournaments each season and lose first round the rest of the year. They’ve experienced great success and their bodies have paid the price for it – to different degrees of course.

Nadal and Murray have backed the idea of having less mandatory tournaments required by the ATP, which wouldn’t result in the season getting shorter, but would allow players to have more flexibility with their schedules.

If the ATP chiefs are worried they wouldn’t have their top stars at the big tournaments if they’re no longer mandatory, they might want to look closer at the ever-growing list of injured players, who are missing events anyway because they simply cannot play.

The top five players in the world rankings at the end of 2016 were: Murray, Djokovic, Raonic, Wawrinka and Nishikori. They all shut down their 2017 seasons early for injuries and their rankings now are: 19, 14, 23, 8, and 24. Wawrinka will drop from No8 to 15 after the Australian Open.

Are we getting to a point where if you succeed one season, you have to fall apart the next?

The issue of the tour and the schedule has been a never-ending saga. It’s finally tie to put some real thought and action into the issue and coming up with realistic solutions. Revisiting the mandatory tournaments structure would be a good place to start.

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