The 36-year-old Swiss defended a Grand Slam title for the first time since the 2008 US Open by retaining his trophy at Melbourne Park with a five-set win over Marin Cilic on Sunday night.
It landed Federer a record-extending 20th major and he was moved to tears during the trophy ceremony as the magnitude of what he has accomplished dawned on him and the crowd went wild during an extended standing ovation.
“Still a little bit confused that it’s all over and that I was able to do it, reach number 20, number six here, it’s just a lot you know – it’s a lot trying to take it in,” Federer told reporters at Government House in Melbourne on Monday morning.
“Last year I felt more straightforward, it was just disbelief, couldn’t believe it happened, and there I was waking up with a trophy.
“But I don’t know this year it seems more surreal. I can’t believe I was able to defend my title, after all these years that I could do it again. It’s very special. Maybe this one is going to take longer to sink in, I don’t know, this is how it feels right now.”
I asked RF2.0 @rogerfederer last night who wins 36 RF vs 25 year old RF who won his 10th slam here in 2007, He told me definitely the one ☝️ playing last night because of 3 areas of game r way better Serv especially 2nd Bachand and return of serv
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 28, 2018
Federer’s emotional reaction on Sunday has led many to speculate that this might have been his last appearance at the tournament.
“I’d love to come back,” Federer assured on Monday. “I know I forgot to say that during the match, at the end, because I don’t remember what I was saying at the end. Of course I hope I come back again next year.”
Ahead of the Australian Open, Federer had played down his chances of taking home the title and said a 36-year-old shouldn’t be considered the favourite at a Slam.
He breezed through his first six matches, without dropping a set, before going the distance against Cilic.
Asked how his legs were feeling at the end of the fortnight, Federer said: “They’re feeling tired but they’re all good you know. It was a great couple of weeks, I can’t believe it.
“Because I’m not sure how much I really felt like I could defend it, I just felt like it was… again like last year, something was going to come in it’s way, one guy was going to catch fire and I wasn’t going to be able to stop him but look, maybe next year when I do come back I might actually believe I can win it, but then I probably won’t win it.
“So it’s better to stay really relaxed about my chances, especially in my later years on the tour and I think it served me well that I stay more relaxed throughout.”
Roger Federer has left the door open for the possibility of playing the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February, which would give him the opportunity to overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the world rankings.
The Swiss’ Australian Open title coup on Sunday gave him his 20th Grand Slam trophy and saw him close in on Nadal, with only 155 points now separating them at the top of the rankings.
Federer, so far, is not entered in any tournaments in February but should he decide to play in Dubai (starts February 26) or any other event, he will have the chance to leapfrog Nadal before heading to Indian Wells and Miami in March, where the Swiss is defending both titles.
Federer has not held the No. 1 ranking since November 4, 2012, and a return to the summit would cap a tremendous 12 months for him where he captured three Grand Slam titles after hitting the age of 35.
Is he tempted to play Dubai to try and catch Nadal, who is currently sidelined for three weeks nursing a hip injury but is due to compete in Acapulco next month?
“We were in talks with them but when the [Australian Open] tournament started I just said ‘look, if it’s okay, I’d like to decide after the tournament’,” Federer told reporters in Melbourne on Monday at a photoshoot with the trophy to celebrate his title.
“That’s the ideal scenario for me and my family, to see what’s happening after the tournament, I’ll know how I feel, did I play seven times five sets, did I play one times three sets? What happened, did I come out injured? So now we know what the situation is, I also have to decide on the clay-court season, so all these things are kind of interlinked. It’s possible I play something, but it’s also possible that I don’t play anything. It depends, I’ll make a decision in the next week or so.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) January 29, 2018
Federer opted out of playing any clay tournaments last year and skipped the French Open. It’s unclear whether he’ll do the same this season or not.
The 36-year-old spoke about the key to his longevity after defeating Marin Cilic in five sets to lift the trophy at Melbourne Park on Sunday, and one major factor has been how selective he has become when it comes to his schedule.
“I think by not overplaying, not playing every tournament possible. I enjoy practice. Not minding the travel. Having a great team around me, they make it possible. At the end it’s seeing that my parents are incredibly proud and happy that I’m still doing it. They enjoy coming to tournaments. That makes me happy and play better,” Federer said after the final, on how he keeps going.
“Then, of course, my wife who makes it all possible. Without her support, I wouldn’t be playing tennis no more since many years… Many puzzles need to fit together for me to be able to sit here tonight.”
Federer is the only man to hit the 20 Grand Slam titles mark, and he is fourth on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22).
Asked if he ever thinks of targeting Court’s all-time record, Federer said: “I don’t know. I didn’t think 20 was ever possible to be honest. But no, I think it’s too far, it’s not something I’m looking at. I never thought about it to be honest but those numbers are surreal and they’re amazing. I’m very happy if it stays at 20.”
The 27-year-old became the first player – man or woman – from Denmark to lift a singles Grand Slam trophy when she defeated Simona Halep in three tight sets in scorching weather on Saturday.
She got just one and a half hours of sleep on Saturday night before she met with reporters at the Royal Botanic Gardens on Sunday morning for a special photo shoot with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial trophy.
“I’m just overwhelmed, excited, happy, a mix of a lot of emotions,” Wozniacki said.
“I’m just soaking it all in. This doesn’t come every day, so when I have this opportunity and have these amazing days – I’m just really thrilled to be here.”
Her friend Serena Williams was one of many athletes who took to social media to congratulate Wozniacki and the Dane is keen to reunite with the 23-time Grand Slam winner to celebrate her maiden success.
I got too nervous to watch but woke up to @CaroWozniacki new number one and aussie open champ. So awesome. So happy. Are those tears? Yup they are. 😭 from a year ago to today I’m so proud my friend so proud. Literally can’t even sleep now
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 27, 2018
“She sent me a great message last night too, just sent me a text. We’re very close. Her support means a lot. We’re definitely going to celebrate once I see her next,” said Wozniacki of Williams, who is set to return from her maternity leave at next week’s Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands.
She added: “I’ve heard from the royal family yes, they congratulated me and are very thrilled for me so that was very exciting.”
Wozniacki saved two match points in her second round win over Jana Fett and came ever so close to packing her bags early and leaving Melbourne.
“It’s a bit of a roller coaster, but after I got through that match I had nothing to lose anymore and I guess it was meant to be,” said Wozniacki.
Her epic battle with Halep in the final lasted two hours and 49 minutes in brutal heat, and the Romanian was reportedly taken to the hospital on Saturday night and was treated for four hours for dehydration before getting released on Sunday morning.
“By the third set I think we were both too exhausted. It was just two warriors out there just trying to be the last woman standing. I think it really helped not to get too nervous closing it out, I was like ‘okay, I’m so tired, you just have a few points more to go’ and that was really my thought. And I thought we both played amazing tennis, Simona’s a great fighter and I’m sure that she’ll have many more opportunities in the future,” said Wozniacki, who was not told about Halep’s condition during her chat with reporters.
“It was warm out there. I think we both felt it, especially towards the end of the third set. We’d been battling for hours out there but I think it made it very special. Australia, we expect the heat, we expect being out there in warm conditions so I think it was a perfect end to the tournament.”