Under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer has become the first man in history to win a 20th grand slam title after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, at the Australian Open.
In what was a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final, Federer was pushed to his limits both mentally and physically. Having a seemingly one-sided lead wiped away by some warrior-like tennis produced from his rival. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old managed to prevail in the 183-minute encounter. Hitting 24 aces, 41 winners and 40 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Cilic’s winner-error ratio of 45-64.
“I’m so happy,” an emotional Federer said after the match. “Winning is an absolute dream come true. The fairytale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”
Drama off the court
Prior to the encounter, officials sparked outcry after deciding that the final should be played under the roof, despite no rain occurring. Former players Greg Rusedski and Pat Cash both slammed the move by saying that it gave Federer the edge.
“One guy warms up indoors, other warms up outdoors before the finals. Roof is closed.” Rusedski wrote on Twitter.
“This is so wrong for a GS final which is an outdoor event, which means you should have to deal with the elements. So far one sided. I hope Cilic can get back into the match.”
The Australian Open hit back by saying the roof was close in accordance with their heat policy. Although the ambient temperature didn’t go over 40 degrees, which is part of their guidelines. In a statement, they later admitted that the decision was due to the ‘discretion of the referee.’
Based on advice, and the fact that the WBGT reading had been above the 32.5 threshold for a considerable period of time this afternoon, and was forecast to be at 32.5 at 8.30pm, the tournament referee used his discretion to invoke the heat policy, and closed the roof.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) 28 January 2018
Despite the argument off-court, it had little impact on Federer’s start to the match. From the onset it was one-way traffic in his favour. The 36-year-old settled into his 30th grand slam final almost instantly. Breaking Cilic twice at the start of the match to seal the opening set in just 24 minutes. Nerves were visible in Cilic’s game as he produced 12 unforced errors compared to Federer’s tally of three. On top of that, the Swiss player dropped just two points behind his serve.
It wasn’t until the second set where Federer got tested. Former US Open champion Cilic had two opportunities to break for a 2-0 lead, but was denied by more tenacious play from the world No.2. From then on, there was little to distinguish between the two as Cilic continued to gain momentum. The Croat battled his way to a set point opportunity at 5-4 following a Federer double fault, but failed to convert. Still undeterred, Cilic secured his the breakthrough in the tiebreaker when a blistering forehand shot elevated him to two more set points. It was on the second where he prevailed after hitting a smash at the net.
With history at stake, Federer managed to regain his stronghold in the match during the third. A Cilic backhand crashed into the net to reward Federer a trio of chances of break for a 4-2 lead. He did so on his second attempt after another error from his rival. Prompting a huge roar of ‘come on’ from the Swiss player. The two sets leads was then sealed with an ace out wide.
Nudging towards a record-equaling sixth Australian Open title, nerves began to unravel Federer. Enabling a resurgent Cilic to illustrate why he remains one of the most prominent players in men’s tennis. Displaying shots reminiscent of his run to the 2014 US Open title, the Croat dismantled the Federer serve with ease to force proceedings into a decider. Prompting an eruption of cheers from his fans in the crowd.
The tension inside the Rod Laver Arena reached its peak as history beckoned for whoever won the final. Once again, Federer got the lead in the cat and mouse chase by breaking for a 3-0 lead in the decider. This time the lead was enough to get him over the finish line. A Cilic forehand smashing into the net secured him another break to move him to a game away from history. Serving for grand slam title No.20, he achieved the milestone with a perfectly placed 140 km/h serve out wide. Prompting tears and jubilation from both him and his camp.
” I’d like to thank Marin, another great tournament. World No3, that’s a hell of an achievement.” Federer said in tribute to his opponent.
As tears fell down the face of the Swiss Maestro, he continued to praise those that has supported him. His team, his family and his fans.
“To all the fans. You fill the stadiums, you make me nervous, you make me go out and practice. I just want to thank you for everything.” He said.
“To my team, I love you guys.”
Runner-up Cilioc can seek some comfort in his Melbourne run. On Monday he will rise to third on the ATP Emirates rankings in what will be the highest position in his career. He is also one of only two players from his country to contest three major finals after Goran Ivanisevic.
“It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life. I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match.” Said Cilic.
“My team have been unbelievable for the last two weeks. We started this year amazingly well and hopefully we can reach more finals and lift more trophies!”
Federer is only the third man to win a sixth Australian Open title. Following in the footsteps of Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Names His Best Personality Trait Ahead of Wimbledon Showdown With Kyrgios
The Greek has named one ‘defining aspect’ of her personality but will it have any relevance for his next match?
Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is ‘thrilled’ to book a Wimbledon third round meeting with Nick Kyrgios later this week after seeing off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.
The world No.5 rallied his way to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, over Thompson to record only his fifth main draw win at the tournament in his career. Despite his accolades on the Tour, Tsitsipas has endured disappointment at The All England Club. In his four previous appearances, he lost in the first round three times.
Nevertheless, the Greek appears to be heading in the right direction on the grass after winning the Mallorca Open less than a week ago. Although he will be truly tested on Saturday when he faces the dangerous Kyrgios who he lost to in Halle earlier this year after winning the first set. Kyrgios produced a clinical performance in his second round match which he said was a message sent to media criticism him.
“Nick has more matches on me in these courts. He claims to like grass. I think his game is good for the grass,” said Tsitsipas.
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot, on the court, what he’s trying to do. Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he’s playing good tennis.’
“I’m going to try and concentrate on doing my thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can stay there and do something great, have a great competitive match against him.”
Kyrgios’ talent has never been disputed but it is his mentality which has at times been his downfall. In his first round match, he was aggravated by the crowd, argued with a match official and spat in front of some people in the stands who were ‘disrespecting’ him.
As for Tsitsipas, the 23-year-old believes his mental strength is one of his best personality traits.
“My mentality is pretty strong. If I fall, I’ll always get up and work hard. I never really have these days where I’m saying, I don’t want to practice today,” he said
“I feel like other players would have that a bit more often than I do. If I fall, I always get up, one thing to get stronger.”
It remains to be seen if Tsitsipas will come back stronger against Kyrgios as he seeks revenge for his recent loss. Although he has lost to the Australian on two other occasions with his only victory in their rivalry being at the Laver Cup.
“You just go out on the court hoping to have a good match, hoping to be able to get balls back, be precise with your shot selection. That comes with good preparation. The rest will hopefully follow if you’re able to approach that with the right mindset.” Tsitsipas explained.
Tsitsipas is the only seeded player remaining in his section of the draw after two rounds played.
Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer form dream team for London’s Laver Cup
Build-up to September’s Laver Cup has already begun and some big names are set to feature.
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon may have come to a disappointing end yesterday, but there is hope on the horizon yet.
It was announced shortly before his second-round encounter with John Isner, that the three-time Grand Slam champion has signed up to play in September’s Laver Cup.
This would mark Murray’s first appearance in the competition.
Being a home tournament for the Brit, fans will be hoping and praying he stays fit for September’s showpiece at the O2 Arena.
Team Europe assembles dream team
With the confirmation of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, the addition of Murray adds more stellar firepower and history to Europe’s cast.
With three of six confirmed, who could the other three names be?
Surely, teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz should be given a place at the table.
The Spaniard has taken the ATP Tour by storm this season, winning not one but TWO Masters 1000’s in Miami and Madrid.
He also became the youngest member of the top ten since you guessed it, his idol Nadal.
Another strong contender would be Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
Having spent three months out with a hand injury, he stormed to titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s proving to be the season’s standout player on grass.
He unfortunately had to pull out of Wimbledon on the eve of his first-round match after contracting Coronavirus.
If fit, he would be a worthy addition after debuting at the event last year.
The romantics would love for another big name in Stan Wawrinka.
The Swiss is well and truly in the twilight of his career.
Like Andy, he has won three Grand Slam’s and would be warmly welcomed by close friend Roger, who he won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold alongside.
And then there’s Marin Cilic who was in fine form to reach the semi-finals of the French Open, making him only one of five active players to reach all four Grand Slam semi-finals.
The former US Open champion played in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.
Team World – Diego Schwartzman, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime confirmed
The challenge of Team Captain John McEnroe is that his counterpart, Bjorn Borg has a wealth of talent at his disposal.
Whilst, the American doesn’t quite have the same luxury.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz were the first two confirmed names.
Canadian talents Felix Auger Aliassime (confirmed) and Denis Shapovalov (not yet confirmed), are the standout names that Team World will bolster their ranks with.
That would then leave two places left with McEnroe likely to call on past stalwarts from previous editions.
This could be 37-year-old Isner, who was highly impressive in defeating Murray yesterday at Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, the seven-time Grand Slam champion is a known fan and admirer of the feisty Nick Kyrgios.
The two big servers could therefore be the final names.
Other possibilities would be American’s Frances Tiafoe, who has played the Laver Cup before, and the talented Sebastian Korda.
Following the announcement of Murray, more confirmations cannot be far away.
Spain’s Bautista Agut Latest Player To Test Positive For Covid At Wimbledon
It is understood that The All England Club is reviewing their Covid-19 policy amid fears of an outbreak.
This year’s Wimbledon men’s tournament has had a third seeded player forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Roberto Bautista Agut, who was the 17th seed in the draw, has withdrawn from his second-round match against Daniel Elahi Galan which was set to get underway on Thursday afternoon on Court Three. Announcing his decision on Twitter, the Spaniard said his symptoms are ‘not very serious‘ but he believes not playing is the right thing to do.
“Today I have notified Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious but I think it is the best decision (not to play).” Bautista Agut wrote.
“I hope to be back soon.”
The 34-year-old was making his eighth main draw appearance at The All England Club this year. In 2019 he reached the semi-finals in what is his best-ever result at a Grand Slam tournament to date.
Earlier this week Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from Wimbledon after positive Covid tests. However, they hadn’t played their first round match which Bautista Agut did. The trio of cases raise fears of a possible outbreak in the tournament given how contagious it can be.
Wimbledon’s Covid-19 policy is made in conjunction with advice issued by local health officials. Although it is unclear if a player is required to withdraw from an event if they have the virus. Ubitennis asked a spokesperson for clarity on the matter but was instead given a generic statement.
As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority,’ An All England Club spokesperson said via email on June 26th.
“As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority.
“We have maintained enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising operations, and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease.
“Our player medical team also continue to wear face masks for any consultation.”
The Guardian has reported that a review of Wimbledon’s guidelines is underway. This was before Agut said he had also contracted the virus. However, there has been no formal announcement concerning any review.
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REPORT: Alexander Zverev To Be Sidelined From Tour For Up To Two Months
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
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