Sunday, January 28, 2018

Federer, 36, outlasts Cilic for 20th major title

Switzerland's Roger Federer poses after winning his record-tying fifth Indian
Wells singles title last March. Photo by Mal Taam
   Let's see.
   The 21-year-old, not the 36-year-old, breaks down physically in the Australian Open men's semifinals.
   Then the 36-year-old, not the 29-year-old, dominates the fifth set of the final.
   What in the name of Harry Hopman is going on here?
   Continuing to defy logic and the laws of nature, second-seeded Roger Federer outlasted sixth-seeded Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 today for his 20th Grand Slam singles title. Rafael Nadal, 31, is second on the all-time list with 16.
   With his second consecutive Australian Open title and record-tying sixth overall, Federer became the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era. Ken Rosewall won the 1972 Australian Open at 37, when the tournament was played on grass and shunned by Americans because it was played in late December. The 32-man draw in 1972 consisted of 27 Australians, two Japanese, and one Briton, Frenchman and Russian each.
   Federer, after going nearly five years without winning a major title, has won three of the last five.
   “I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable,” said a teary Federer, who will play an exhibition against Jack Sock on March 5 at the SAP Center in San Jose. “Of course, winning is an absolute dream come true – the fairy tale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”
    In a questionable move that may have helped Federer, organizers decided one hour before the final to close the roof at Rod Laver because of high heat (100 degrees or 38 Celsius) and humidity.
   “I was surprised to hear they had the heat rule in place for a night match,” Federer said. “I never heard that before. When I arrived to the courts, I was totally ready to play outdoors.”
   The New York Times reported that Federer then practiced indoors while Cilic hit outdoors and paid the price in the first set by spraying shots.
   “With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected,” Cilic said. “That was very, very difficult, especially for the final, to be in that kind of situation.”

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