Tennis star Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal pulled out of the London Olympics on Thursday due to injury.

Federer thrashed Bemelmans to move to within two wins of replacing Nadal as world number one (AFP Photo/Koen Suyk)
Federer thrashed Bemelmans to move to within two wins of replacing Nadal as world number one
Federer thrashed Bemelmans to move to within two wins of replacing Nadal as world number one (AFP Photo/Koen Suyk)
<p>Hey, guys. Quick housekeeping:</p><p>• Our most recent podcast guest was <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/02/08/podcast-michael-stich-tennis-hall-of-fame-inductee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Stich" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael Stich</a>, on his life today, his pending Hall of Fame induction and how to play Federer.</p><p>• Our next guest: tennis player Jake Elliott, who also happens to be the placekicker for the Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles.</p><p>• Once again <a href="http://on.si.com/2o3G55r" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue</a>.</p><p>Onward…</p><h3>Mailbag</h3><p><em>Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/jon_wertheim" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jon_wertheim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong><em>@jon_wertheim</em></strong></a><em>.</em></p><p><strong>Donald Young’s accusation that Ryan Harrison made racist remarks toward him are serious and deserve to be treated as such. Harrison says that what Young claims was said simply didn’t happen and if anyone doubted him, then they should listen to the audio and watch the video. I agree…If Harrison did make racist remarks, he’d be fined, lose sponsorships, maybe suspended and certainly ostracized and deservedly so if true. But if not true, why not fine Young, embarrass him, force him to lose sponsorships, possibly suspend him and certainly ostracize him? After all, he would in such a circumstance have just used race as the basis to slur his opponent and disparage his character publicly, something none of us should tolerate, correct? </strong></p><p>—<em>Bob in Miami</em></p><p>• Let’s, regrettably, start with Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, whose match Monday night at the New York Open turned ugly. Young made an accusation. Harrison categorically denied the accusation. This is ugly stuff. I am told that the <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/02/13/donald-young-ryan-harrison-new-york-open-atp-investigation" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ATP has already started an inquiry" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ATP has already started an inquiry</a> and has reached out to the tournament director, the chair umpire etc.</p><p>At some level, this is quite simple. In theory, either courtside audio and/or eyewitness will confirm Young’s allegations, in which case Harrison should be disciplined and face the full force of retribution, both from the ATP and fans. Or, the courtside audio and/or observers will reveal an absence of offensive speech, shifting the burden to Young for making such a serious charge.</p><p>But context is important here, too and, as usual, reputation matters, as does prior history. And Harrison has a lot of to answer for here. His track record of confrontation with opponents is as long as it is regrettable. Workplace disputes happen, especially in competition. But when you’ve had beef with <a href="http://www.tennisworldusa.org/tennis/news/Tennis_Stories/50932/tense-match-between-ryan-harrison-and-dudi-sela-here-is-what-happened/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:four" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">four</a> or <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opc08A8l5aM" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:five" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">five</a> colleagues in the past half-year alone, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. As one former top player texted me on Tuesday, “He is the common denominator.”</p><p>And when you run to the defense of Tennys Sandren and send aggressive, racially-tinged texts to other players….word gets around. We’ll reserve judgment on what happened between Harrison and Young. But let’s be clear: this did not occur in a vacuum.</p><p><strong>Love the Mailbag, and you are entitled to your feelings and to curating your content, but I often think about a publicity/visibility bias at work on your readers. The following are examples of things that—while they&#39;re very true for you—make me wonder how much feedback you actually get that disagrees with certain &quot;Wertheim truisms&quot;:</strong></p><p><strong>- The tennis Hall of Fame is an idea/a real brick-and-mortar institution worth attention and discussion.</strong></p><p><strong>- [NAME REDACTED] is a worthwhile commentator.</strong></p><p><strong>- The injury situation in tennis needs to be considered/remedied at a higher level than that of the individual player simply modulating his or her schedule (à la Roger).</strong></p><p><strong>- Men and women should make equal prize money at a given tournament, as they are complementary products.</strong></p><p><strong>They&#39;re all Wertheim truisms I strongly disagree with. (In fairness, there are many others I wholeheartedly DO agree with). Do you find that you have some awareness of creating something akin to &quot;Tennis-according-to-Wertheim&quot;? And do you find that there are certain issues where this Tennis-according-to-Wertheim is out-of-sync with what you&#39;re hearing from your readers?</strong></p><p><strong>As always, thanks for the thought-provoking material!</strong><br>—<em>Michael M.</em></p><p>• Totally fair question.</p><p>“Public trust” is too self-aggrandizing and overdramatic. But at some level, I try to make this column reflect the interests of the fans. If several emails I get pertain to Hall of Fame credentials and injustices, I feel somewhat obligated to address. (Even if, personally, I’m not commensurately interested.) If there’s a ton of chatter about the GOAT, I’m inclined to try and provide a forum for that discussion. I am unbothered by grunting. I recognize many of you are, as well by the WTA’s unwillingness/inability to address your concerns. If Ryan Harrison’s behavior draws great interest, I will start with that, even if there are more deserving candidates.</p><p>At the same time, it’s a column, which—immodestly perhaps—entitles the writer to some latitude and independent (and, I hope informed) analysis. I hate the conflicts of interest that stifle tennis’ growth, distort markets and are simply morally wrong in many cases. I hate the blithe indifference to the rash of player injuries. I believe that challenging equal prize money might be a winning argument economically, but a losing one pragmatically; the public relations hit vastly outstripping any potential clawback gains. I think on-court coaching is a cynical gimmick foisted upon by executives who have zero data supporting their claim that fans or players actually want this. And I write accordingly, even though there is no consensus and, in some cases, I am in the minority.</p><p>All of which is to say…I strive to make this a mix of vox populi and vox me. </p><p><strong>With no tennis off-season, how long are we going to wait to hear your Dick Enberg story? We have been waiting (since April) for your Oscar Robertson story.</strong> <strong>Can we get one of them soon?</strong><br>—<em>Josh</em></p><p>• So it’s the early 1980s. I’m a kid growing up in Indiana. Dick Enberg and Al McGuire are in my town to broadcast an Indiana/Iowa basketball game on NBC, certifying this as a real event, the 1980s equivalent of College Football GameDay coming to your campus. I am probably 10 years old. Dick Enberg is a national celebrity, but also an Indiana grad so he has this extra coating of exalted status.</p><p>Before the game, I make my way down from my nosebleed seat to their broadcast spot—which is probably ten rows above the court—to ask, nervously, for an autograph. Enberg signs my program and then says, “You know what? I just thought of something: We could really use some help today. Would you like to be our scorer?”</p><p>Naturally, I do. Chairs are rearranged so I can sit next to Enberg. I am handed a scoresheet and told to circle points accordingly. This, of course, is completely superfluous and not necessary. Enberg is a wearing a headset and a producer is there to ply him with any piece of information. There is also an official scorer, whose stats circulate throughout the game and are going to be more reliable than the jottings of a fifth-grader. But this is just a saintly man, this Dick Enberg, realizing that he can make a kid’s day/week/year by giving him an artificial job… so why not?</p><p>The game starts and I am not only seated next to the great and famous Dick Enberg but I am, ostensibly, working for him, an integral part of this national broadcast. To humor me, Enberg will periodically look at my notations and as if they are sacred texts demanding studied interpretation. He will pat me on the back. At halftime and after the game, will thank me profusely.</p><p>The best part: at some point during the game, the local newspaper takes a photo of Enberg and McGuire in their perch, their NBC peacock banner draped behind them. A few people look closely enough at the photo the next day and spot me alongside them. Again, this all owes to a spontaneous gesture­­—the kind Enberg, one suspects, is inclined to make daily. He likely forgets this by the time he leaves the arena. Here I am, 35 years later, recounting it. With specificity, and with a smile.</p><p><strong>I loved your book on Federer and Nadal and I bought a copy. My question is about Goran Ivanisevic. Why isn&#39;t he in the Hall of Fame as he was just as good if not better than Michael Stich? He won Wimbledon and got to three other finals and I thought he was a great player.</strong><br>—<em>John Pallan</em></p><p>• That sound you hear: floodgates* opening. Now that Stich has been voted in, there are cases to be made for so many players, from Yevgeny Kafelnikov to Mary Pierce. Ivanisevic** makes the list as well. So it goes.</p><p><em>The New York Times</em>, as I understand it, does not permit its writers to vote in Hall of Fame elections, concerned about the appearance and the potential for conflict. <em>Sports Illustrated</em> does permit this voting but I think those casting ballots need to be accountable and public. For the sake of transparency: I voted for no candidates on this recent slate and cannot see myself ever voting for a player with only one major singles title.</p><p>*Has anyone actually seen an actual floodgate? Another one of these words— carousel, fulcrum, albatross—that seems to exist mostly for the sake of its metaphor.</p><p>**Quick story: during the Australian Open, I took a night off and went to the movies to see <em>I, Tonya</em>. Good movie; terrible rendering of history. (Watch Mary Carillo’s NBC documentary, <em>Fire and Ice</em>, for accuracy.) Movie ends. Someone behind me is humming the closing tune, the very excellent “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nAON-MwUPY" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Passenger" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Passenger</a>” by Siouxsie and the Banchees. I turn and….decorum prevents us from naming names, but suffice to say either the movie, the song or both found considerable favor among the cohort that includes Croatian Wimbledon winners.</p><p><strong>Thank you for your thorough and insightful coverage—really digging the podcasts. However, I think your journalist access to players and information clouds your perception of a couple of troubling tour trends.</strong></p><p><strong>Tanking. This was a fascinating exchange between you and Carillo on your podcast. Carillo taking a hardline stance on Kyrgios, you being more forgiving. Perhaps if you had to pay for tickets to a show court, make a Sophie’s choice on which court to see/miss, and drive/train/fly to a stadium you could relate. Tanking punishes fans. That’s all there is to it. If a player doesn’t want to play, he or she shouldn’t show up at all. Let paying fans and TV fans see something that showcases the best of the sport. Indulging Kyrgios (much improved in this department), Tomic, et al is a big miss IMHO. </strong></p><p><strong>Transparency. It’s hard for fans to follow, much less root for a player like Djokovic when he conceals the status of injury. When the cost of entry to a Grand Slam nosebleed seat exceeds $100, fans deserve to know who is going to show up, and in what condition. It’s annoying for Djokovic to go on a social media bender while he’s feeling good (late Dec. to Jan. 22) then disappear. Fans remember stuff like that. And what about the extended Djoker 2016 malaise that journalists allude to like an open-secret, but that fans are still scratching heads over? Why not share a weekly injury status report like NFL and MLB?</strong> <strong>Thanks for looking out for the fans.</strong><br>—<em>RG</em></p><p>• My point on tanking: I don’t condone tanking. It undermines fans. It undermines the sport. It’s shabby. But w/r/t Kyrgios, if this is the worst thing we can say about him—he doesn’t always show up; he shortchanges his talent—we’re doing okay. He’s been positioned as tennis’ bad boy, its wrestling-style heel, its polarizing figure. In other sports this equates to antisocial behavior. (While we’re here: is it my imagination or is <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/12/21/james-harden-lawsuit-moses-malone-jr-rockets-adidas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this</a> the most underreported story in sports?) In tennis, we’ve had stars behave execrably and dabble with drugs and be Ilie Nastase. If the worst thing you can say about Kyrgios is that sometimes he stints on effort, we’ll take that bad boy.</p><p>Your other point is one we’ve discussed recently but it is well-taken. Again, in an individual sport, I can understand why athletes are reluctant to reveal every injury. But when fans buy tickets only to learn later that their favorite had no intention of entering (see: Serena Williams at Indian Wells last year) no one wins.</p><p><strong>Dennis Szalkai had an interesting Mailbag contribution on the Tiger-Fed comparisons. My </strong><strong><a href="https://datwinning.com/2017/04/13/tiger-and-fed-the-rivalry-that-never-was/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:piece" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">piece</a> </strong><strong>from about a year ago doesn&#39;t at all address whether SI &quot;missed the boat&quot; but it is relevant to their two divergent career paths especially this coming week as Roger may return to No. 1. </strong></p><p><strong>P.S. I know I&#39;m far from the guy or gal that asks you to share their work but if your discretion says so, I always am grateful :)</strong><br>—<em>Rohit Sudarshan</em><em>, </em><em>Apia, Samoa</em></p><p>• Considered it shared. You know the rules: reader from Somoa finds you, you are duty-bound to share.</p><p><strong>In what Universe is Michael Stich a more deserving Hall of Famer than Yevgeny Kafelnikov? Considering that the tennis Hall of Fame has become notorious for it&#39;s loose standards—did you win one Slam? Were you friendly and well-liked? Come on down!—how does a player with the unquestioned credentials of Kafelnikov keep getting passed over for less-accomplished players?</strong><br>—<em>Rocky Lucas, Charleston, West Virginia</em></p><p>• We can explore this further in future weeks. I can share why he did not get my vote. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5275679/Daughter-Yevgeny-Kafelnikov-speaks-depression.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:For now, wish him and his daughter well." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">For now, wish him and his daughter well.</a></p><p><strong>Why on earth was Caroline playing a tournament right after she won the AO? Has Serena taught her nothing?</strong><br>—<em>Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.</em></p><p>• The other way to look at it: she made a playing commitment and stuck by it.</p><h3>Shots, Miscellany</h3><p>• <a href="https://www.romania-insider.com/simona-halep-contract-nike/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal.</a></p><p>• Through a donation starting at just $10 benefiting St. Jude Children&#39;s Research Hospital and ACEing Autism, five lucky tennis fans will receive the ultimate tennis fantasy: the chance to kick-off the Miami Open and play against the biggest stars in the game, including Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. With additional pros to be announced in the coming weeks, guests will also enjoy a private cocktail reception and tennis exhibition with the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, on March 20, 2018. Via <a href="https://www.fanthropic.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Fanthropic." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Fanthropic.</a></p><p>• From Qatar: [Q] M. Niculescu (ROU) d [WC] M. Sharapova (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3</p><p>• <a href="http://www.itatennis.com/AboutITA/News/North_Carolina_Tops_Pepperdine_4-2_To_Win_2018_ITA_Division_I_National_Women_s_Team_Indoor_Championship.htm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:All hail North Carolina." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">All hail North Carolina.</a></p><p>• Tennis Channel will continue to carry top-level men&#39;s tennis under an extension of its rights agreement with the ATP World Tour ...along with the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, will appear on the network and via authenticated digital streams under the multiyear deal.</p><p>• From Ben Rothenberg for <em>Slate</em>: <a href="https://slate.com/culture/2018/02/how-darko-grncarov-tricked-serena-williams-and-the-bbc.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_ru" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC.</a> </p><p>• “Tie Break Tens, the new fast-paced, short-form tennis competition, is excited to reveal that American star CoCo Vandeweghe will compete at its inaugural tournament in the United States at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City on Monday, March 5, 2018. CoCo, coming fresh off a win at this weekend’s Fed Cup, joins a line-up of elite athletes that includes Serena and Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Marion Bartoli. The final three stars set to compete will be announced soon.”</p><p>• This week’s LLS, Goran Ivanisevic and Nikola Mirotic</p>
Mailbag: Young-Harrison Controversy, Plus Tanking, Transparency and More

Hey, guys. Quick housekeeping:

• Our most recent podcast guest was Michael Stich, on his life today, his pending Hall of Fame induction and how to play Federer.

• Our next guest: tennis player Jake Elliott, who also happens to be the placekicker for the Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles.

• Once again tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue.

Onward…

Mailbag

Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

Donald Young’s accusation that Ryan Harrison made racist remarks toward him are serious and deserve to be treated as such. Harrison says that what Young claims was said simply didn’t happen and if anyone doubted him, then they should listen to the audio and watch the video. I agree…If Harrison did make racist remarks, he’d be fined, lose sponsorships, maybe suspended and certainly ostracized and deservedly so if true. But if not true, why not fine Young, embarrass him, force him to lose sponsorships, possibly suspend him and certainly ostracize him? After all, he would in such a circumstance have just used race as the basis to slur his opponent and disparage his character publicly, something none of us should tolerate, correct?

Bob in Miami

• Let’s, regrettably, start with Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, whose match Monday night at the New York Open turned ugly. Young made an accusation. Harrison categorically denied the accusation. This is ugly stuff. I am told that the ATP has already started an inquiry and has reached out to the tournament director, the chair umpire etc.

At some level, this is quite simple. In theory, either courtside audio and/or eyewitness will confirm Young’s allegations, in which case Harrison should be disciplined and face the full force of retribution, both from the ATP and fans. Or, the courtside audio and/or observers will reveal an absence of offensive speech, shifting the burden to Young for making such a serious charge.

But context is important here, too and, as usual, reputation matters, as does prior history. And Harrison has a lot of to answer for here. His track record of confrontation with opponents is as long as it is regrettable. Workplace disputes happen, especially in competition. But when you’ve had beef with four or five colleagues in the past half-year alone, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. As one former top player texted me on Tuesday, “He is the common denominator.”

And when you run to the defense of Tennys Sandren and send aggressive, racially-tinged texts to other players….word gets around. We’ll reserve judgment on what happened between Harrison and Young. But let’s be clear: this did not occur in a vacuum.

Love the Mailbag, and you are entitled to your feelings and to curating your content, but I often think about a publicity/visibility bias at work on your readers. The following are examples of things that—while they're very true for you—make me wonder how much feedback you actually get that disagrees with certain "Wertheim truisms":

- The tennis Hall of Fame is an idea/a real brick-and-mortar institution worth attention and discussion.

- [NAME REDACTED] is a worthwhile commentator.

- The injury situation in tennis needs to be considered/remedied at a higher level than that of the individual player simply modulating his or her schedule (à la Roger).

- Men and women should make equal prize money at a given tournament, as they are complementary products.

They're all Wertheim truisms I strongly disagree with. (In fairness, there are many others I wholeheartedly DO agree with). Do you find that you have some awareness of creating something akin to "Tennis-according-to-Wertheim"? And do you find that there are certain issues where this Tennis-according-to-Wertheim is out-of-sync with what you're hearing from your readers?

As always, thanks for the thought-provoking material!
Michael M.

• Totally fair question.

“Public trust” is too self-aggrandizing and overdramatic. But at some level, I try to make this column reflect the interests of the fans. If several emails I get pertain to Hall of Fame credentials and injustices, I feel somewhat obligated to address. (Even if, personally, I’m not commensurately interested.) If there’s a ton of chatter about the GOAT, I’m inclined to try and provide a forum for that discussion. I am unbothered by grunting. I recognize many of you are, as well by the WTA’s unwillingness/inability to address your concerns. If Ryan Harrison’s behavior draws great interest, I will start with that, even if there are more deserving candidates.

At the same time, it’s a column, which—immodestly perhaps—entitles the writer to some latitude and independent (and, I hope informed) analysis. I hate the conflicts of interest that stifle tennis’ growth, distort markets and are simply morally wrong in many cases. I hate the blithe indifference to the rash of player injuries. I believe that challenging equal prize money might be a winning argument economically, but a losing one pragmatically; the public relations hit vastly outstripping any potential clawback gains. I think on-court coaching is a cynical gimmick foisted upon by executives who have zero data supporting their claim that fans or players actually want this. And I write accordingly, even though there is no consensus and, in some cases, I am in the minority.

All of which is to say…I strive to make this a mix of vox populi and vox me.

With no tennis off-season, how long are we going to wait to hear your Dick Enberg story? We have been waiting (since April) for your Oscar Robertson story. Can we get one of them soon?
Josh

• So it’s the early 1980s. I’m a kid growing up in Indiana. Dick Enberg and Al McGuire are in my town to broadcast an Indiana/Iowa basketball game on NBC, certifying this as a real event, the 1980s equivalent of College Football GameDay coming to your campus. I am probably 10 years old. Dick Enberg is a national celebrity, but also an Indiana grad so he has this extra coating of exalted status.

Before the game, I make my way down from my nosebleed seat to their broadcast spot—which is probably ten rows above the court—to ask, nervously, for an autograph. Enberg signs my program and then says, “You know what? I just thought of something: We could really use some help today. Would you like to be our scorer?”

Naturally, I do. Chairs are rearranged so I can sit next to Enberg. I am handed a scoresheet and told to circle points accordingly. This, of course, is completely superfluous and not necessary. Enberg is a wearing a headset and a producer is there to ply him with any piece of information. There is also an official scorer, whose stats circulate throughout the game and are going to be more reliable than the jottings of a fifth-grader. But this is just a saintly man, this Dick Enberg, realizing that he can make a kid’s day/week/year by giving him an artificial job… so why not?

The game starts and I am not only seated next to the great and famous Dick Enberg but I am, ostensibly, working for him, an integral part of this national broadcast. To humor me, Enberg will periodically look at my notations and as if they are sacred texts demanding studied interpretation. He will pat me on the back. At halftime and after the game, will thank me profusely.

The best part: at some point during the game, the local newspaper takes a photo of Enberg and McGuire in their perch, their NBC peacock banner draped behind them. A few people look closely enough at the photo the next day and spot me alongside them. Again, this all owes to a spontaneous gesture­­—the kind Enberg, one suspects, is inclined to make daily. He likely forgets this by the time he leaves the arena. Here I am, 35 years later, recounting it. With specificity, and with a smile.

I loved your book on Federer and Nadal and I bought a copy. My question is about Goran Ivanisevic. Why isn't he in the Hall of Fame as he was just as good if not better than Michael Stich? He won Wimbledon and got to three other finals and I thought he was a great player.
John Pallan

• That sound you hear: floodgates* opening. Now that Stich has been voted in, there are cases to be made for so many players, from Yevgeny Kafelnikov to Mary Pierce. Ivanisevic** makes the list as well. So it goes.

The New York Times, as I understand it, does not permit its writers to vote in Hall of Fame elections, concerned about the appearance and the potential for conflict. Sports Illustrated does permit this voting but I think those casting ballots need to be accountable and public. For the sake of transparency: I voted for no candidates on this recent slate and cannot see myself ever voting for a player with only one major singles title.

*Has anyone actually seen an actual floodgate? Another one of these words— carousel, fulcrum, albatross—that seems to exist mostly for the sake of its metaphor.

**Quick story: during the Australian Open, I took a night off and went to the movies to see I, Tonya. Good movie; terrible rendering of history. (Watch Mary Carillo’s NBC documentary, Fire and Ice, for accuracy.) Movie ends. Someone behind me is humming the closing tune, the very excellent “Passenger” by Siouxsie and the Banchees. I turn and….decorum prevents us from naming names, but suffice to say either the movie, the song or both found considerable favor among the cohort that includes Croatian Wimbledon winners.

Thank you for your thorough and insightful coverage—really digging the podcasts. However, I think your journalist access to players and information clouds your perception of a couple of troubling tour trends.

Tanking. This was a fascinating exchange between you and Carillo on your podcast. Carillo taking a hardline stance on Kyrgios, you being more forgiving. Perhaps if you had to pay for tickets to a show court, make a Sophie’s choice on which court to see/miss, and drive/train/fly to a stadium you could relate. Tanking punishes fans. That’s all there is to it. If a player doesn’t want to play, he or she shouldn’t show up at all. Let paying fans and TV fans see something that showcases the best of the sport. Indulging Kyrgios (much improved in this department), Tomic, et al is a big miss IMHO.

Transparency. It’s hard for fans to follow, much less root for a player like Djokovic when he conceals the status of injury. When the cost of entry to a Grand Slam nosebleed seat exceeds $100, fans deserve to know who is going to show up, and in what condition. It’s annoying for Djokovic to go on a social media bender while he’s feeling good (late Dec. to Jan. 22) then disappear. Fans remember stuff like that. And what about the extended Djoker 2016 malaise that journalists allude to like an open-secret, but that fans are still scratching heads over? Why not share a weekly injury status report like NFL and MLB? Thanks for looking out for the fans.
RG

• My point on tanking: I don’t condone tanking. It undermines fans. It undermines the sport. It’s shabby. But w/r/t Kyrgios, if this is the worst thing we can say about him—he doesn’t always show up; he shortchanges his talent—we’re doing okay. He’s been positioned as tennis’ bad boy, its wrestling-style heel, its polarizing figure. In other sports this equates to antisocial behavior. (While we’re here: is it my imagination or is this the most underreported story in sports?) In tennis, we’ve had stars behave execrably and dabble with drugs and be Ilie Nastase. If the worst thing you can say about Kyrgios is that sometimes he stints on effort, we’ll take that bad boy.

Your other point is one we’ve discussed recently but it is well-taken. Again, in an individual sport, I can understand why athletes are reluctant to reveal every injury. But when fans buy tickets only to learn later that their favorite had no intention of entering (see: Serena Williams at Indian Wells last year) no one wins.

Dennis Szalkai had an interesting Mailbag contribution on the Tiger-Fed comparisons. My piece from about a year ago doesn't at all address whether SI "missed the boat" but it is relevant to their two divergent career paths especially this coming week as Roger may return to No. 1.

P.S. I know I'm far from the guy or gal that asks you to share their work but if your discretion says so, I always am grateful :)
Rohit Sudarshan, Apia, Samoa

• Considered it shared. You know the rules: reader from Somoa finds you, you are duty-bound to share.

In what Universe is Michael Stich a more deserving Hall of Famer than Yevgeny Kafelnikov? Considering that the tennis Hall of Fame has become notorious for it's loose standards—did you win one Slam? Were you friendly and well-liked? Come on down!—how does a player with the unquestioned credentials of Kafelnikov keep getting passed over for less-accomplished players?
Rocky Lucas, Charleston, West Virginia

• We can explore this further in future weeks. I can share why he did not get my vote. For now, wish him and his daughter well.

Why on earth was Caroline playing a tournament right after she won the AO? Has Serena taught her nothing?
Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.

• The other way to look at it: she made a playing commitment and stuck by it.

Shots, Miscellany

Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal.

• Through a donation starting at just $10 benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and ACEing Autism, five lucky tennis fans will receive the ultimate tennis fantasy: the chance to kick-off the Miami Open and play against the biggest stars in the game, including Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. With additional pros to be announced in the coming weeks, guests will also enjoy a private cocktail reception and tennis exhibition with the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, on March 20, 2018. Via Fanthropic.

• From Qatar: [Q] M. Niculescu (ROU) d [WC] M. Sharapova (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3

All hail North Carolina.

• Tennis Channel will continue to carry top-level men's tennis under an extension of its rights agreement with the ATP World Tour ...along with the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, will appear on the network and via authenticated digital streams under the multiyear deal.

• From Ben Rothenberg for Slate: How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC.

• “Tie Break Tens, the new fast-paced, short-form tennis competition, is excited to reveal that American star CoCo Vandeweghe will compete at its inaugural tournament in the United States at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City on Monday, March 5, 2018. CoCo, coming fresh off a win at this weekend’s Fed Cup, joins a line-up of elite athletes that includes Serena and Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Marion Bartoli. The final three stars set to compete will be announced soon.”

• This week’s LLS, Goran Ivanisevic and Nikola Mirotic

<p>Hey, guys. Quick housekeeping:</p><p>• Our most recent podcast guest was <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/02/08/podcast-michael-stich-tennis-hall-of-fame-inductee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Stich" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael Stich</a>, on his life today, his pending Hall of Fame induction and how to play Federer.</p><p>• Our next guest: tennis player Jake Elliott, who also happens to be the placekicker for the Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles.</p><p>• Once again <a href="http://on.si.com/2o3G55r" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue</a>.</p><p>Onward…</p><h3>Mailbag</h3><p><em>Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/jon_wertheim" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jon_wertheim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong><em>@jon_wertheim</em></strong></a><em>.</em></p><p><strong>Donald Young’s accusation that Ryan Harrison made racist remarks toward him are serious and deserve to be treated as such. Harrison says that what Young claims was said simply didn’t happen and if anyone doubted him, then they should listen to the audio and watch the video. I agree…If Harrison did make racist remarks, he’d be fined, lose sponsorships, maybe suspended and certainly ostracized and deservedly so if true. But if not true, why not fine Young, embarrass him, force him to lose sponsorships, possibly suspend him and certainly ostracize him? After all, he would in such a circumstance have just used race as the basis to slur his opponent and disparage his character publicly, something none of us should tolerate, correct? </strong></p><p>—<em>Bob in Miami</em></p><p>• Let’s, regrettably, start with Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, whose match Monday night at the New York Open turned ugly. Young made an accusation. Harrison categorically denied the accusation. This is ugly stuff. I am told that the <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/02/13/donald-young-ryan-harrison-new-york-open-atp-investigation" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ATP has already started an inquiry" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ATP has already started an inquiry</a> and has reached out to the tournament director, the chair umpire etc.</p><p>At some level, this is quite simple. In theory, either courtside audio and/or eyewitness will confirm Young’s allegations, in which case Harrison should be disciplined and face the full force of retribution, both from the ATP and fans. Or, the courtside audio and/or observers will reveal an absence of offensive speech, shifting the burden to Young for making such a serious charge.</p><p>But context is important here, too and, as usual, reputation matters, as does prior history. And Harrison has a lot of to answer for here. His track record of confrontation with opponents is as long as it is regrettable. Workplace disputes happen, especially in competition. But when you’ve had beef with <a href="http://www.tennisworldusa.org/tennis/news/Tennis_Stories/50932/tense-match-between-ryan-harrison-and-dudi-sela-here-is-what-happened/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:four" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">four</a> or <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opc08A8l5aM" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:five" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">five</a> colleagues in the past half-year alone, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. As one former top player texted me on Tuesday, “He is the common denominator.”</p><p>And when you run to the defense of Tennys Sandren and send aggressive, racially-tinged texts to other players….word gets around. We’ll reserve judgment on what happened between Harrison and Young. But let’s be clear: this did not occur in a vacuum.</p><p><strong>Love the Mailbag, and you are entitled to your feelings and to curating your content, but I often think about a publicity/visibility bias at work on your readers. The following are examples of things that—while they&#39;re very true for you—make me wonder how much feedback you actually get that disagrees with certain &quot;Wertheim truisms&quot;:</strong></p><p><strong>- The tennis Hall of Fame is an idea/a real brick-and-mortar institution worth attention and discussion.</strong></p><p><strong>- [NAME REDACTED] is a worthwhile commentator.</strong></p><p><strong>- The injury situation in tennis needs to be considered/remedied at a higher level than that of the individual player simply modulating his or her schedule (à la Roger).</strong></p><p><strong>- Men and women should make equal prize money at a given tournament, as they are complementary products.</strong></p><p><strong>They&#39;re all Wertheim truisms I strongly disagree with. (In fairness, there are many others I wholeheartedly DO agree with). Do you find that you have some awareness of creating something akin to &quot;Tennis-according-to-Wertheim&quot;? And do you find that there are certain issues where this Tennis-according-to-Wertheim is out-of-sync with what you&#39;re hearing from your readers?</strong></p><p><strong>As always, thanks for the thought-provoking material!</strong><br>—<em>Michael M.</em></p><p>• Totally fair question.</p><p>“Public trust” is too self-aggrandizing and overdramatic. But at some level, I try to make this column reflect the interests of the fans. If several emails I get pertain to Hall of Fame credentials and injustices, I feel somewhat obligated to address. (Even if, personally, I’m not commensurately interested.) If there’s a ton of chatter about the GOAT, I’m inclined to try and provide a forum for that discussion. I am unbothered by grunting. I recognize many of you are, as well by the WTA’s unwillingness/inability to address your concerns. If Ryan Harrison’s behavior draws great interest, I will start with that, even if there are more deserving candidates.</p><p>At the same time, it’s a column, which—immodestly perhaps—entitles the writer to some latitude and independent (and, I hope informed) analysis. I hate the conflicts of interest that stifle tennis’ growth, distort markets and are simply morally wrong in many cases. I hate the blithe indifference to the rash of player injuries. I believe that challenging equal prize money might be a winning argument economically, but a losing one pragmatically; the public relations hit vastly outstripping any potential clawback gains. I think on-court coaching is a cynical gimmick foisted upon by executives who have zero data supporting their claim that fans or players actually want this. And I write accordingly, even though there is no consensus and, in some cases, I am in the minority.</p><p>All of which is to say…I strive to make this a mix of vox populi and vox me. </p><p><strong>With no tennis off-season, how long are we going to wait to hear your Dick Enberg story? We have been waiting (since April) for your Oscar Robertson story.</strong> <strong>Can we get one of them soon?</strong><br>—<em>Josh</em></p><p>• So it’s the early 1980s. I’m a kid growing up in Indiana. Dick Enberg and Al McGuire are in my town to broadcast an Indiana/Iowa basketball game on NBC, certifying this as a real event, the 1980s equivalent of College Football GameDay coming to your campus. I am probably 10 years old. Dick Enberg is a national celebrity, but also an Indiana grad so he has this extra coating of exalted status.</p><p>Before the game, I make my way down from my nosebleed seat to their broadcast spot—which is probably ten rows above the court—to ask, nervously, for an autograph. Enberg signs my program and then says, “You know what? I just thought of something: We could really use some help today. Would you like to be our scorer?”</p><p>Naturally, I do. Chairs are rearranged so I can sit next to Enberg. I am handed a scoresheet and told to circle points accordingly. This, of course, is completely superfluous and not necessary. Enberg is a wearing a headset and a producer is there to ply him with any piece of information. There is also an official scorer, whose stats circulate throughout the game and are going to be more reliable than the jottings of a fifth-grader. But this is just a saintly man, this Dick Enberg, realizing that he can make a kid’s day/week/year by giving him an artificial job… so why not?</p><p>The game starts and I am not only seated next to the great and famous Dick Enberg but I am, ostensibly, working for him, an integral part of this national broadcast. To humor me, Enberg will periodically look at my notations and as if they are sacred texts demanding studied interpretation. He will pat me on the back. At halftime and after the game, will thank me profusely.</p><p>The best part: at some point during the game, the local newspaper takes a photo of Enberg and McGuire in their perch, their NBC peacock banner draped behind them. A few people look closely enough at the photo the next day and spot me alongside them. Again, this all owes to a spontaneous gesture­­—the kind Enberg, one suspects, is inclined to make daily. He likely forgets this by the time he leaves the arena. Here I am, 35 years later, recounting it. With specificity, and with a smile.</p><p><strong>I loved your book on Federer and Nadal and I bought a copy. My question is about Goran Ivanisevic. Why isn&#39;t he in the Hall of Fame as he was just as good if not better than Michael Stich? He won Wimbledon and got to three other finals and I thought he was a great player.</strong><br>—<em>John Pallan</em></p><p>• That sound you hear: floodgates* opening. Now that Stich has been voted in, there are cases to be made for so many players, from Yevgeny Kafelnikov to Mary Pierce. Ivanisevic** makes the list as well. So it goes.</p><p><em>The New York Times</em>, as I understand it, does not permit its writers to vote in Hall of Fame elections, concerned about the appearance and the potential for conflict. <em>Sports Illustrated</em> does permit this voting but I think those casting ballots need to be accountable and public. For the sake of transparency: I voted for no candidates on this recent slate and cannot see myself ever voting for a player with only one major singles title.</p><p>*Has anyone actually seen an actual floodgate? Another one of these words— carousel, fulcrum, albatross—that seems to exist mostly for the sake of its metaphor.</p><p>**Quick story: during the Australian Open, I took a night off and went to the movies to see <em>I, Tonya</em>. Good movie; terrible rendering of history. (Watch Mary Carillo’s NBC documentary, <em>Fire and Ice</em>, for accuracy.) Movie ends. Someone behind me is humming the closing tune, the very excellent “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nAON-MwUPY" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Passenger" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Passenger</a>” by Siouxsie and the Banchees. I turn and….decorum prevents us from naming names, but suffice to say either the movie, the song or both found considerable favor among the cohort that includes Croatian Wimbledon winners.</p><p><strong>Thank you for your thorough and insightful coverage—really digging the podcasts. However, I think your journalist access to players and information clouds your perception of a couple of troubling tour trends.</strong></p><p><strong>Tanking. This was a fascinating exchange between you and Carillo on your podcast. Carillo taking a hardline stance on Kyrgios, you being more forgiving. Perhaps if you had to pay for tickets to a show court, make a Sophie’s choice on which court to see/miss, and drive/train/fly to a stadium you could relate. Tanking punishes fans. That’s all there is to it. If a player doesn’t want to play, he or she shouldn’t show up at all. Let paying fans and TV fans see something that showcases the best of the sport. Indulging Kyrgios (much improved in this department), Tomic, et al is a big miss IMHO. </strong></p><p><strong>Transparency. It’s hard for fans to follow, much less root for a player like Djokovic when he conceals the status of injury. When the cost of entry to a Grand Slam nosebleed seat exceeds $100, fans deserve to know who is going to show up, and in what condition. It’s annoying for Djokovic to go on a social media bender while he’s feeling good (late Dec. to Jan. 22) then disappear. Fans remember stuff like that. And what about the extended Djoker 2016 malaise that journalists allude to like an open-secret, but that fans are still scratching heads over? Why not share a weekly injury status report like NFL and MLB?</strong> <strong>Thanks for looking out for the fans.</strong><br>—<em>RG</em></p><p>• My point on tanking: I don’t condone tanking. It undermines fans. It undermines the sport. It’s shabby. But w/r/t Kyrgios, if this is the worst thing we can say about him—he doesn’t always show up; he shortchanges his talent—we’re doing okay. He’s been positioned as tennis’ bad boy, its wrestling-style heel, its polarizing figure. In other sports this equates to antisocial behavior. (While we’re here: is it my imagination or is <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/12/21/james-harden-lawsuit-moses-malone-jr-rockets-adidas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this</a> the most underreported story in sports?) In tennis, we’ve had stars behave execrably and dabble with drugs and be Ilie Nastase. If the worst thing you can say about Kyrgios is that sometimes he stints on effort, we’ll take that bad boy.</p><p>Your other point is one we’ve discussed recently but it is well-taken. Again, in an individual sport, I can understand why athletes are reluctant to reveal every injury. But when fans buy tickets only to learn later that their favorite had no intention of entering (see: Serena Williams at Indian Wells last year) no one wins.</p><p><strong>Dennis Szalkai had an interesting Mailbag contribution on the Tiger-Fed comparisons. My </strong><strong><a href="https://datwinning.com/2017/04/13/tiger-and-fed-the-rivalry-that-never-was/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:piece" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">piece</a> </strong><strong>from about a year ago doesn&#39;t at all address whether SI &quot;missed the boat&quot; but it is relevant to their two divergent career paths especially this coming week as Roger may return to No. 1. </strong></p><p><strong>P.S. I know I&#39;m far from the guy or gal that asks you to share their work but if your discretion says so, I always am grateful :)</strong><br>—<em>Rohit Sudarshan</em><em>, </em><em>Apia, Samoa</em></p><p>• Considered it shared. You know the rules: reader from Somoa finds you, you are duty-bound to share.</p><p><strong>In what Universe is Michael Stich a more deserving Hall of Famer than Yevgeny Kafelnikov? Considering that the tennis Hall of Fame has become notorious for it&#39;s loose standards—did you win one Slam? Were you friendly and well-liked? Come on down!—how does a player with the unquestioned credentials of Kafelnikov keep getting passed over for less-accomplished players?</strong><br>—<em>Rocky Lucas, Charleston, West Virginia</em></p><p>• We can explore this further in future weeks. I can share why he did not get my vote. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5275679/Daughter-Yevgeny-Kafelnikov-speaks-depression.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:For now, wish him and his daughter well." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">For now, wish him and his daughter well.</a></p><p><strong>Why on earth was Caroline playing a tournament right after she won the AO? Has Serena taught her nothing?</strong><br>—<em>Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.</em></p><p>• The other way to look at it: she made a playing commitment and stuck by it.</p><h3>Shots, Miscellany</h3><p>• <a href="https://www.romania-insider.com/simona-halep-contract-nike/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal.</a></p><p>• Through a donation starting at just $10 benefiting St. Jude Children&#39;s Research Hospital and ACEing Autism, five lucky tennis fans will receive the ultimate tennis fantasy: the chance to kick-off the Miami Open and play against the biggest stars in the game, including Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. With additional pros to be announced in the coming weeks, guests will also enjoy a private cocktail reception and tennis exhibition with the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, on March 20, 2018. Via <a href="https://www.fanthropic.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Fanthropic." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Fanthropic.</a></p><p>• From Qatar: [Q] M. Niculescu (ROU) d [WC] M. Sharapova (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3</p><p>• <a href="http://www.itatennis.com/AboutITA/News/North_Carolina_Tops_Pepperdine_4-2_To_Win_2018_ITA_Division_I_National_Women_s_Team_Indoor_Championship.htm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:All hail North Carolina." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">All hail North Carolina.</a></p><p>• Tennis Channel will continue to carry top-level men&#39;s tennis under an extension of its rights agreement with the ATP World Tour ...along with the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, will appear on the network and via authenticated digital streams under the multiyear deal.</p><p>• From Ben Rothenberg for <em>Slate</em>: <a href="https://slate.com/culture/2018/02/how-darko-grncarov-tricked-serena-williams-and-the-bbc.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_ru" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC.</a> </p><p>• “Tie Break Tens, the new fast-paced, short-form tennis competition, is excited to reveal that American star CoCo Vandeweghe will compete at its inaugural tournament in the United States at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City on Monday, March 5, 2018. CoCo, coming fresh off a win at this weekend’s Fed Cup, joins a line-up of elite athletes that includes Serena and Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Marion Bartoli. The final three stars set to compete will be announced soon.”</p><p>• This week’s LLS, Goran Ivanisevic and Nikola Mirotic</p>
Mailbag: Young-Harrison Controversy, Plus Tanking, Transparency and More

Hey, guys. Quick housekeeping:

• Our most recent podcast guest was Michael Stich, on his life today, his pending Hall of Fame induction and how to play Federer.

• Our next guest: tennis player Jake Elliott, who also happens to be the placekicker for the Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles.

• Once again tennis is well-represented in the SI Swimsuit issue.

Onward…

Mailbag

Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

Donald Young’s accusation that Ryan Harrison made racist remarks toward him are serious and deserve to be treated as such. Harrison says that what Young claims was said simply didn’t happen and if anyone doubted him, then they should listen to the audio and watch the video. I agree…If Harrison did make racist remarks, he’d be fined, lose sponsorships, maybe suspended and certainly ostracized and deservedly so if true. But if not true, why not fine Young, embarrass him, force him to lose sponsorships, possibly suspend him and certainly ostracize him? After all, he would in such a circumstance have just used race as the basis to slur his opponent and disparage his character publicly, something none of us should tolerate, correct?

Bob in Miami

• Let’s, regrettably, start with Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, whose match Monday night at the New York Open turned ugly. Young made an accusation. Harrison categorically denied the accusation. This is ugly stuff. I am told that the ATP has already started an inquiry and has reached out to the tournament director, the chair umpire etc.

At some level, this is quite simple. In theory, either courtside audio and/or eyewitness will confirm Young’s allegations, in which case Harrison should be disciplined and face the full force of retribution, both from the ATP and fans. Or, the courtside audio and/or observers will reveal an absence of offensive speech, shifting the burden to Young for making such a serious charge.

But context is important here, too and, as usual, reputation matters, as does prior history. And Harrison has a lot of to answer for here. His track record of confrontation with opponents is as long as it is regrettable. Workplace disputes happen, especially in competition. But when you’ve had beef with four or five colleagues in the past half-year alone, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. As one former top player texted me on Tuesday, “He is the common denominator.”

And when you run to the defense of Tennys Sandren and send aggressive, racially-tinged texts to other players….word gets around. We’ll reserve judgment on what happened between Harrison and Young. But let’s be clear: this did not occur in a vacuum.

Love the Mailbag, and you are entitled to your feelings and to curating your content, but I often think about a publicity/visibility bias at work on your readers. The following are examples of things that—while they're very true for you—make me wonder how much feedback you actually get that disagrees with certain "Wertheim truisms":

- The tennis Hall of Fame is an idea/a real brick-and-mortar institution worth attention and discussion.

- [NAME REDACTED] is a worthwhile commentator.

- The injury situation in tennis needs to be considered/remedied at a higher level than that of the individual player simply modulating his or her schedule (à la Roger).

- Men and women should make equal prize money at a given tournament, as they are complementary products.

They're all Wertheim truisms I strongly disagree with. (In fairness, there are many others I wholeheartedly DO agree with). Do you find that you have some awareness of creating something akin to "Tennis-according-to-Wertheim"? And do you find that there are certain issues where this Tennis-according-to-Wertheim is out-of-sync with what you're hearing from your readers?

As always, thanks for the thought-provoking material!
Michael M.

• Totally fair question.

“Public trust” is too self-aggrandizing and overdramatic. But at some level, I try to make this column reflect the interests of the fans. If several emails I get pertain to Hall of Fame credentials and injustices, I feel somewhat obligated to address. (Even if, personally, I’m not commensurately interested.) If there’s a ton of chatter about the GOAT, I’m inclined to try and provide a forum for that discussion. I am unbothered by grunting. I recognize many of you are, as well by the WTA’s unwillingness/inability to address your concerns. If Ryan Harrison’s behavior draws great interest, I will start with that, even if there are more deserving candidates.

At the same time, it’s a column, which—immodestly perhaps—entitles the writer to some latitude and independent (and, I hope informed) analysis. I hate the conflicts of interest that stifle tennis’ growth, distort markets and are simply morally wrong in many cases. I hate the blithe indifference to the rash of player injuries. I believe that challenging equal prize money might be a winning argument economically, but a losing one pragmatically; the public relations hit vastly outstripping any potential clawback gains. I think on-court coaching is a cynical gimmick foisted upon by executives who have zero data supporting their claim that fans or players actually want this. And I write accordingly, even though there is no consensus and, in some cases, I am in the minority.

All of which is to say…I strive to make this a mix of vox populi and vox me.

With no tennis off-season, how long are we going to wait to hear your Dick Enberg story? We have been waiting (since April) for your Oscar Robertson story. Can we get one of them soon?
Josh

• So it’s the early 1980s. I’m a kid growing up in Indiana. Dick Enberg and Al McGuire are in my town to broadcast an Indiana/Iowa basketball game on NBC, certifying this as a real event, the 1980s equivalent of College Football GameDay coming to your campus. I am probably 10 years old. Dick Enberg is a national celebrity, but also an Indiana grad so he has this extra coating of exalted status.

Before the game, I make my way down from my nosebleed seat to their broadcast spot—which is probably ten rows above the court—to ask, nervously, for an autograph. Enberg signs my program and then says, “You know what? I just thought of something: We could really use some help today. Would you like to be our scorer?”

Naturally, I do. Chairs are rearranged so I can sit next to Enberg. I am handed a scoresheet and told to circle points accordingly. This, of course, is completely superfluous and not necessary. Enberg is a wearing a headset and a producer is there to ply him with any piece of information. There is also an official scorer, whose stats circulate throughout the game and are going to be more reliable than the jottings of a fifth-grader. But this is just a saintly man, this Dick Enberg, realizing that he can make a kid’s day/week/year by giving him an artificial job… so why not?

The game starts and I am not only seated next to the great and famous Dick Enberg but I am, ostensibly, working for him, an integral part of this national broadcast. To humor me, Enberg will periodically look at my notations and as if they are sacred texts demanding studied interpretation. He will pat me on the back. At halftime and after the game, will thank me profusely.

The best part: at some point during the game, the local newspaper takes a photo of Enberg and McGuire in their perch, their NBC peacock banner draped behind them. A few people look closely enough at the photo the next day and spot me alongside them. Again, this all owes to a spontaneous gesture­­—the kind Enberg, one suspects, is inclined to make daily. He likely forgets this by the time he leaves the arena. Here I am, 35 years later, recounting it. With specificity, and with a smile.

I loved your book on Federer and Nadal and I bought a copy. My question is about Goran Ivanisevic. Why isn't he in the Hall of Fame as he was just as good if not better than Michael Stich? He won Wimbledon and got to three other finals and I thought he was a great player.
John Pallan

• That sound you hear: floodgates* opening. Now that Stich has been voted in, there are cases to be made for so many players, from Yevgeny Kafelnikov to Mary Pierce. Ivanisevic** makes the list as well. So it goes.

The New York Times, as I understand it, does not permit its writers to vote in Hall of Fame elections, concerned about the appearance and the potential for conflict. Sports Illustrated does permit this voting but I think those casting ballots need to be accountable and public. For the sake of transparency: I voted for no candidates on this recent slate and cannot see myself ever voting for a player with only one major singles title.

*Has anyone actually seen an actual floodgate? Another one of these words— carousel, fulcrum, albatross—that seems to exist mostly for the sake of its metaphor.

**Quick story: during the Australian Open, I took a night off and went to the movies to see I, Tonya. Good movie; terrible rendering of history. (Watch Mary Carillo’s NBC documentary, Fire and Ice, for accuracy.) Movie ends. Someone behind me is humming the closing tune, the very excellent “Passenger” by Siouxsie and the Banchees. I turn and….decorum prevents us from naming names, but suffice to say either the movie, the song or both found considerable favor among the cohort that includes Croatian Wimbledon winners.

Thank you for your thorough and insightful coverage—really digging the podcasts. However, I think your journalist access to players and information clouds your perception of a couple of troubling tour trends.

Tanking. This was a fascinating exchange between you and Carillo on your podcast. Carillo taking a hardline stance on Kyrgios, you being more forgiving. Perhaps if you had to pay for tickets to a show court, make a Sophie’s choice on which court to see/miss, and drive/train/fly to a stadium you could relate. Tanking punishes fans. That’s all there is to it. If a player doesn’t want to play, he or she shouldn’t show up at all. Let paying fans and TV fans see something that showcases the best of the sport. Indulging Kyrgios (much improved in this department), Tomic, et al is a big miss IMHO.

Transparency. It’s hard for fans to follow, much less root for a player like Djokovic when he conceals the status of injury. When the cost of entry to a Grand Slam nosebleed seat exceeds $100, fans deserve to know who is going to show up, and in what condition. It’s annoying for Djokovic to go on a social media bender while he’s feeling good (late Dec. to Jan. 22) then disappear. Fans remember stuff like that. And what about the extended Djoker 2016 malaise that journalists allude to like an open-secret, but that fans are still scratching heads over? Why not share a weekly injury status report like NFL and MLB? Thanks for looking out for the fans.
RG

• My point on tanking: I don’t condone tanking. It undermines fans. It undermines the sport. It’s shabby. But w/r/t Kyrgios, if this is the worst thing we can say about him—he doesn’t always show up; he shortchanges his talent—we’re doing okay. He’s been positioned as tennis’ bad boy, its wrestling-style heel, its polarizing figure. In other sports this equates to antisocial behavior. (While we’re here: is it my imagination or is this the most underreported story in sports?) In tennis, we’ve had stars behave execrably and dabble with drugs and be Ilie Nastase. If the worst thing you can say about Kyrgios is that sometimes he stints on effort, we’ll take that bad boy.

Your other point is one we’ve discussed recently but it is well-taken. Again, in an individual sport, I can understand why athletes are reluctant to reveal every injury. But when fans buy tickets only to learn later that their favorite had no intention of entering (see: Serena Williams at Indian Wells last year) no one wins.

Dennis Szalkai had an interesting Mailbag contribution on the Tiger-Fed comparisons. My piece from about a year ago doesn't at all address whether SI "missed the boat" but it is relevant to their two divergent career paths especially this coming week as Roger may return to No. 1.

P.S. I know I'm far from the guy or gal that asks you to share their work but if your discretion says so, I always am grateful :)
Rohit Sudarshan, Apia, Samoa

• Considered it shared. You know the rules: reader from Somoa finds you, you are duty-bound to share.

In what Universe is Michael Stich a more deserving Hall of Famer than Yevgeny Kafelnikov? Considering that the tennis Hall of Fame has become notorious for it's loose standards—did you win one Slam? Were you friendly and well-liked? Come on down!—how does a player with the unquestioned credentials of Kafelnikov keep getting passed over for less-accomplished players?
Rocky Lucas, Charleston, West Virginia

• We can explore this further in future weeks. I can share why he did not get my vote. For now, wish him and his daughter well.

Why on earth was Caroline playing a tournament right after she won the AO? Has Serena taught her nothing?
Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.

• The other way to look at it: she made a playing commitment and stuck by it.

Shots, Miscellany

Simona Halep has a new sponsorship deal.

• Through a donation starting at just $10 benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and ACEing Autism, five lucky tennis fans will receive the ultimate tennis fantasy: the chance to kick-off the Miami Open and play against the biggest stars in the game, including Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. With additional pros to be announced in the coming weeks, guests will also enjoy a private cocktail reception and tennis exhibition with the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, on March 20, 2018. Via Fanthropic.

• From Qatar: [Q] M. Niculescu (ROU) d [WC] M. Sharapova (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-3

All hail North Carolina.

• Tennis Channel will continue to carry top-level men's tennis under an extension of its rights agreement with the ATP World Tour ...along with the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, will appear on the network and via authenticated digital streams under the multiyear deal.

• From Ben Rothenberg for Slate: How a 20-year-old from the land of fake news tricked Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, and the BBC.

• “Tie Break Tens, the new fast-paced, short-form tennis competition, is excited to reveal that American star CoCo Vandeweghe will compete at its inaugural tournament in the United States at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City on Monday, March 5, 2018. CoCo, coming fresh off a win at this weekend’s Fed Cup, joins a line-up of elite athletes that includes Serena and Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina and Marion Bartoli. The final three stars set to compete will be announced soon.”

• This week’s LLS, Goran Ivanisevic and Nikola Mirotic

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, reacts after scoring a point against Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the men&#39;s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. New York no longer has to wait for the U.S. Open for top-level tennis. The New York Open debuts next week at Nassau Coliseum, a new home for a tournament that has attracted many of the best American mens players and hopes it can someday get the best in the world.(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki, File)
New York Open tennis tournament arrives on Long Island
FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, reacts after scoring a point against Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. New York no longer has to wait for the U.S. Open for top-level tennis. The New York Open debuts next week at Nassau Coliseum, a new home for a tournament that has attracted many of the best American mens players and hopes it can someday get the best in the world.(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki, File)
Rafael Nadal&#39;s time at the top of the world rankings will end if Roger Federer reaches the semi-finals of the Rotterdam Open.
Federer can top rankings after accepting Rotterdam wildcard
Rafael Nadal's time at the top of the world rankings will end if Roger Federer reaches the semi-finals of the Rotterdam Open.
<p>Flotsam and jetsam.</p><p>1. Michael Stich, recently voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is the next guest on the SI/Tennis Channel tennis podcast.</p><p>2. Awkwardly, we have had some recent inquiries about sponsoring the podcast. I—intentionally—stay out of the commerce side, but feel free to contact me and I’ll forward inquiries to the sales staff accordingly.</p><p>3. New York readers: a) The <a href="http://newyorkopen.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:New York Open" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">New York Open</a> starts next week. B) <em>Balls</em>, an off Broadway show based on Billie Jean King, runs through Feb. 25. Tickets <a href="http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=307" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>. c) “The USTA announced that the 2018 US Open will introduce a new daily match schedule for the tournament, made possible by the completion of the strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and the opening of the new 14,000 seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2018, both Arthur Ashe Stadium and the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will hold dedicated day and night sessions.”</p><p>Upward and Onward….</p><h3>Mailbag</h3><p><em>Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him <a href="https://twitter.com/jon_wertheim" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jon_wertheim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>@jon_wertheim</strong></a>.</em></p><p><strong>To your question about whether Roger Federer will play or skip the French Open: I think he will skip it but I think he should have a go at it. In 2017 RF finally got really comfortable with the bigger racket, meaning his more aggressive style of play and his execution are in sync. He can take the French Open even if Nadal plays—36 is not old for everyone, it is just a number. Some are old at 21. I know: two hips replaced, prostate gone and I still ski and play basketball.</strong></p><p>• Never mind RF. Go, you! To hell with your missing hips and prostate. I tend to agree with you. Federer is understandably wary of clay and understandably rational. You come on a cold day and tweak your back—at the major you’re least likely to win—and there goes your entire summer.</p><p>But, again, especially given all the other cars in the shop, Federer is close to pole position right now. If the French Open started tomorrow and Nadal was not 100%, who else beats him? In best-of-five? With raucous crowd support? And, yes, with influence on the schedulers?</p><p><strong>I totally disagree with you regarding Helena Sukova, whom I feel you unintentionally belittled calling her a &quot;doubles star.” If doubles count for nothing, stop playing them, but I&#39;m sure you believe that players like the Bryan brothers, the Woodies or Daniel Nestor are Hall of Famers, though their singles careers are far less impressive than Sukova. She is a nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and a five-time mixed doubles champ. She was No. 1 in the world and won two Olympic silver medals. As a singles player she reached four Grand Slam finals and was ranked no. 4. She was also very involved in tennis in the Czech Republic after she hung up her racket. In my opinion she&#39;s as deserving, if not more so, than the (deserving in their on rights) likes of Gigi Fernández, Rosie Casals or Frew McMillan. Stich is a &quot;stichier&quot; matter, and definitely opens the door for the likes of Cilic and Delpo.</strong><br>—<em>Gilad from Israel</em></p><p>• I’m open to either possibility, but either you misinterpreted, or I wrote that poorly. In the case of Sukova I think we have the Hall of Fame version of the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/01/what-every-pro-tennis-player-does-better-than-roger-federer/283007/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Simpson’s Paradox." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Simpson’s Paradox.</a></p><p>She doesn’t get in on the basis of her singles. She may or may not get in on the basis of her doubles. But add them together and she gets the call. Full disclosure: I did not vote for Sukova. But I respect those who did.</p><p>There’s a question bubbling just beneath the surface that’s disingenuous not to pose. The Hall of Fame ceremony is a source of revenue and publicity that coincides with the final weekend of the ATP event. Is the Hall of Fame prepared to skip a ceremony altogether one year? “This year we induct no one.” If there’s not a willingness to confront this possibility—and that may be a completely legitimate response—we should condition ourselves to admitting one-time Slam champions.</p><p>A lot of you have written in, asking about the relatively modest C.V.’s of both inductees. I get that. But spun more favorably, maybe the message is that “Slams won” isn&#39;t the only barometer of success.</p><p><strong>Does it make sense that Serena Williams (or Azarenka or Clijsters) loses her ranking while off the tour due to pregnancy and childbirth? This isn&#39;t an overuse injury or a doping ban. A No. 1 player leaves the tour to carry and give birth to a child then has to deal with the monumental changes to her body to be able to compete again. All that necessarily takes more than a year. Surely she shouldn&#39;t be punished for it! Do you know if the WTA is considering rule changes?</strong><br>—<em>Claire, Ottawa</em></p><p>• I could go either way. Not the most generous parental leave program. But you’re in a competitive industry. Your status necessarily impacts someone else’s.</p><p><strong>What do you think about Djokovic&#39;s surgery or whatever it was? Do you think journalists should try to clarify exactly what procedure he had?</strong><br>—<em>Jay, Brooklyn </em></p><p>• In theory I agree with you. Most sports have standards for keeping fans—that is, customers—abreast of injuries. In a sport, though, where there are no teams and no league but the competitors are individual contractors, this kind of transparency (or translucency in the case of the Patriots) is hard to legislate.</p><p>Inquiries here are totally fair game. “Novak, please clarify why it is your hand is bandaged.” But, candidly, I think athlete discretion/privacy is fair, too. “Listen, guys. It’s my body and my injury and I would prefer not to discuss it.”</p><p><strong>Do you remember <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/sport-comment/roger-federer-must-say-farewell-to-tennis-now-to-avoid-damaging-his-legend-8799203.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this article" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this article</a> from five years ago? Haha! &quot;With great power comes great responsibility.”</strong></p><p>• Here’s what needs retiring: the phrase “damaging/tarnishing one’s legacy.” In fairness to the writer, you could make the case that one of the media’s jobs is to anticipate and, yes, prognosticate. We have business projections and weather forecasts and “ones to watch.” Sometimes <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/arts/television/simpsons-prediction-future.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:predictions" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">predictions</a> pan out; sometimes you are the guy predicting the tulip boom of 17th-century Holland or the impossibility of the self-driving car.</p><p><strong>Hi Jon, hope you are well. With Federer putting even more distance between himself and Tiger Woods in major titles after the recently completed Australian Open, do you think Sports Illustrated will ever do an article/investigation on how they really missed the boat over the years in their relatively minimal coverage of Federer? (Is it two covers and zero Sportsperson of the Year awards? Dwyane Wade in 2006???) Is the overreaching reason for Federer&#39;s lack of coverage that tennis as a whole is not held in as high regard as golf? Of course Serena got her Sportsperson of the Year even though Novak was actually closer to the Grand Slam... Did Steffi get Sportsperson of the Year when she pulled off a Golden Slam in &#39;88 (at the age of what 18/19?)?</strong></p><p><strong>Anyhow, I found it very interesting that on the same weekend of Federer winning his 20th Slam title, Woods received as much or more mainstream press for making a cut.</strong><br>—<em>Dennis Szalkai, Vancouver, Canada</em></p><p>• Even by tennis’ standards, this could be a bridge too far in terms of conflicts of interest. I can&#39;t really talk objectively. Here’s what I will say:</p><p>a) Now that the 10-year statute of limitations has lapsed, we can concede that for 2006, <a href="https://www.si.com/sports-illustrated/2016/12/01/dwyane-wade-roger-federer-sportsperson-year-2006" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Federer was the better choice" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Federer was the better choice</a>.</p><p>b) Tennis is a bit handicapped by the sports schedule. The Australian Open comes the week before the Super Bowl. The French Open comes in the thick of the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. Wimbledon is the dead of summer (coinciding with SI’s double issue “Where are They Now?”) and the U.S. Open final is usually played on Week One of the NFL season.</p><p>c) I am not *the* decision maker, but I am a decision maker. I lobby for tennis when appropriate (see: Serena Williams 2015) but sometimes need to suppress my fondness for the sport. The truth is tennis is still a niche sport and the fact is, “consumer interest/demand” impacts editorial decisions.</p><p>d) I reiterate my quote in the above story: “This has been a source of ribbing with Federer and his camp, but for Federer—being the mensch that he is—it’s never been the basis for declining an interview or anything like that. Also, I should point this out: Not once did he denigrate Dwyane Wade or question his bona fides.”</p><p><strong>I&#39;m sure most of your readers know the legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away a few days before Christmas. I was wondering if you might suggest having him enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame as a contributor. He has already been inducted into the Baseball, Basketball, and Football Halls of Fame. I always greatly enjoyed hearing him commentate on tennis matches. He had a very gentlemanly and respectful demeanor that left viewers feeling calm and focused on sporting events. He will be missed by millions.</strong><br>—<em>Raymond</em></p><p>• At some point, remind me to tell you a Dick Enberg story sometime.</p><p>I like your idea. The Hall of Fame encourages you send nominations to the website <a href="http://tennisfame.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tennisfame.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tennisfame.com</a>. </p><p><strong>Strolling through a mall recently, I came upon a Godiva chocolate shop. Recalling a Federer commercial of several years ago for chocolates, but not the brand, I asked the two counter clerks, “Is this the chocolate Roger Federer endorses?” They looked at each other quizzically, then responded, “Who is Roger Federer?” Speechless, I quickly left, realizing that there are people on the planet who did not know this name. As a long-time fan, I should have known Federer endorses Lindt chocolates.</strong><br>—<em>Mark, Fullerton, Calif.</em></p><p>• Keep this in mind, tennis fans, as Valentines Day approaches…</p><h3> Shots, Miscellany </h3><p>• From tennis player to Super Bowl winner sounds like a demotion to me. But (h/t Jonathan Jones) <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/31/jake-elliott-philadelphia-eagles-kicker-high-school-tennis-super-bowl-52" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:good for Jake Elliott" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">good for Jake Elliott</a>.</p><p> • RIP Diane Straus, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/obituaries/diane-straus-publisher-of-liberal-policy-magazines-dies-at-66.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:champion of paddle tennis." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">champion of paddle tennis.</a></p><p> • The Volvo Car Open has added another top WTA player to its 2018 field. World No. 10 Julia Goerges will play in the Charleston tournament this year. </p><p>• On the heels of signing 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, today announced the signing of former Wimbledon Doubles Champion, JoAnne Russell, to its Team Selkirk Professional Pickleball Advisory Staff.</p><p>• IMG announced that the longest-running women’s professional tournament on the WTA tour has signed Mubadala Investment Company as its new title sponsor. IMG has also entered into a long-term agreement with San José State University to host the event beginning in 2018, reinforcing its commitment to keeping the WTA Premier event in California’s Bay Area.</p><p>• Tip of the tam o&#39; shanter to Denise Tyler, doyenne of the Wimbledon pressroom. We wish her well.</p><p>• <a href="http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/chronicling-monfils-comeback-february-2018" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils.</a> </p><p>• This week’s LLS is from Sam from San Diego: Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Roger Federer, and Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States.</p><p>• This week’s Reader Rant comes from Zaid Noorsumar: <strong>Hi Jon. I&#39;ve been reading your SI column on and off for about a decade (it&#39;s #MeNotYou; my interest has dwindled at times), but writing to you for the first time. </strong><strong>I thought this was a good opportunity to highlight my Pakistani countrymen&#39;s 4-0 Davis Cup victory over a Chung-less Korea (and to indulge in some shameless self-promotion). </strong></p><p><strong>The win was forged by Pakistan&#39;s aging stalwarts Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan, both of whom are on the wrong side of 40. But here&#39;s the compelling part—this win came on home soil, where Pakistan&#39;s slick grass courts (think Wimbledon in the ‘80s) make our team virtually unbeatable as our unbeaten record since 1997 attests. </strong></p><p><strong>Unfortunately, from the mid-2000s to 2017, Pakistan was unable to host ties (at the risk of attracting the ire of my compatriots, I will say for good reason). </strong><strong>So every time Pakistan has come close to qualifying for the World Group, it has stumbled because of the lack of home advantage. But this time we can rely on the comfort of home as we once again are just two matches away from the elusive main draw. </strong></p><p><strong>Considering the advanced ages of our best and most reliable players, it may be now or never for Pakistan. Some of your readers would be familiar with Aisam, but they could have been as easily have been acquainted with Aqeel, if not for his working class background, as chronicled in my long-form 2016 feature on him (in my defense, I am trying to break into journalism).</strong></p>
Mailbag: What Message Is Hall of Fame Sending with Recent Inductees?

Flotsam and jetsam.

1. Michael Stich, recently voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is the next guest on the SI/Tennis Channel tennis podcast.

2. Awkwardly, we have had some recent inquiries about sponsoring the podcast. I—intentionally—stay out of the commerce side, but feel free to contact me and I’ll forward inquiries to the sales staff accordingly.

3. New York readers: a) The New York Open starts next week. B) Balls, an off Broadway show based on Billie Jean King, runs through Feb. 25. Tickets here. c) “The USTA announced that the 2018 US Open will introduce a new daily match schedule for the tournament, made possible by the completion of the strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and the opening of the new 14,000 seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2018, both Arthur Ashe Stadium and the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will hold dedicated day and night sessions.”

Upward and Onward….

Mailbag

Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

To your question about whether Roger Federer will play or skip the French Open: I think he will skip it but I think he should have a go at it. In 2017 RF finally got really comfortable with the bigger racket, meaning his more aggressive style of play and his execution are in sync. He can take the French Open even if Nadal plays—36 is not old for everyone, it is just a number. Some are old at 21. I know: two hips replaced, prostate gone and I still ski and play basketball.

• Never mind RF. Go, you! To hell with your missing hips and prostate. I tend to agree with you. Federer is understandably wary of clay and understandably rational. You come on a cold day and tweak your back—at the major you’re least likely to win—and there goes your entire summer.

But, again, especially given all the other cars in the shop, Federer is close to pole position right now. If the French Open started tomorrow and Nadal was not 100%, who else beats him? In best-of-five? With raucous crowd support? And, yes, with influence on the schedulers?

I totally disagree with you regarding Helena Sukova, whom I feel you unintentionally belittled calling her a "doubles star.” If doubles count for nothing, stop playing them, but I'm sure you believe that players like the Bryan brothers, the Woodies or Daniel Nestor are Hall of Famers, though their singles careers are far less impressive than Sukova. She is a nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and a five-time mixed doubles champ. She was No. 1 in the world and won two Olympic silver medals. As a singles player she reached four Grand Slam finals and was ranked no. 4. She was also very involved in tennis in the Czech Republic after she hung up her racket. In my opinion she's as deserving, if not more so, than the (deserving in their on rights) likes of Gigi Fernández, Rosie Casals or Frew McMillan. Stich is a "stichier" matter, and definitely opens the door for the likes of Cilic and Delpo.
Gilad from Israel

• I’m open to either possibility, but either you misinterpreted, or I wrote that poorly. In the case of Sukova I think we have the Hall of Fame version of the Simpson’s Paradox.

She doesn’t get in on the basis of her singles. She may or may not get in on the basis of her doubles. But add them together and she gets the call. Full disclosure: I did not vote for Sukova. But I respect those who did.

There’s a question bubbling just beneath the surface that’s disingenuous not to pose. The Hall of Fame ceremony is a source of revenue and publicity that coincides with the final weekend of the ATP event. Is the Hall of Fame prepared to skip a ceremony altogether one year? “This year we induct no one.” If there’s not a willingness to confront this possibility—and that may be a completely legitimate response—we should condition ourselves to admitting one-time Slam champions.

A lot of you have written in, asking about the relatively modest C.V.’s of both inductees. I get that. But spun more favorably, maybe the message is that “Slams won” isn't the only barometer of success.

Does it make sense that Serena Williams (or Azarenka or Clijsters) loses her ranking while off the tour due to pregnancy and childbirth? This isn't an overuse injury or a doping ban. A No. 1 player leaves the tour to carry and give birth to a child then has to deal with the monumental changes to her body to be able to compete again. All that necessarily takes more than a year. Surely she shouldn't be punished for it! Do you know if the WTA is considering rule changes?
Claire, Ottawa

• I could go either way. Not the most generous parental leave program. But you’re in a competitive industry. Your status necessarily impacts someone else’s.

What do you think about Djokovic's surgery or whatever it was? Do you think journalists should try to clarify exactly what procedure he had?
Jay, Brooklyn

• In theory I agree with you. Most sports have standards for keeping fans—that is, customers—abreast of injuries. In a sport, though, where there are no teams and no league but the competitors are individual contractors, this kind of transparency (or translucency in the case of the Patriots) is hard to legislate.

Inquiries here are totally fair game. “Novak, please clarify why it is your hand is bandaged.” But, candidly, I think athlete discretion/privacy is fair, too. “Listen, guys. It’s my body and my injury and I would prefer not to discuss it.”

Do you remember this article from five years ago? Haha! "With great power comes great responsibility.”

• Here’s what needs retiring: the phrase “damaging/tarnishing one’s legacy.” In fairness to the writer, you could make the case that one of the media’s jobs is to anticipate and, yes, prognosticate. We have business projections and weather forecasts and “ones to watch.” Sometimes predictions pan out; sometimes you are the guy predicting the tulip boom of 17th-century Holland or the impossibility of the self-driving car.

Hi Jon, hope you are well. With Federer putting even more distance between himself and Tiger Woods in major titles after the recently completed Australian Open, do you think Sports Illustrated will ever do an article/investigation on how they really missed the boat over the years in their relatively minimal coverage of Federer? (Is it two covers and zero Sportsperson of the Year awards? Dwyane Wade in 2006???) Is the overreaching reason for Federer's lack of coverage that tennis as a whole is not held in as high regard as golf? Of course Serena got her Sportsperson of the Year even though Novak was actually closer to the Grand Slam... Did Steffi get Sportsperson of the Year when she pulled off a Golden Slam in '88 (at the age of what 18/19?)?

Anyhow, I found it very interesting that on the same weekend of Federer winning his 20th Slam title, Woods received as much or more mainstream press for making a cut.
Dennis Szalkai, Vancouver, Canada

• Even by tennis’ standards, this could be a bridge too far in terms of conflicts of interest. I can't really talk objectively. Here’s what I will say:

a) Now that the 10-year statute of limitations has lapsed, we can concede that for 2006, Federer was the better choice.

b) Tennis is a bit handicapped by the sports schedule. The Australian Open comes the week before the Super Bowl. The French Open comes in the thick of the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. Wimbledon is the dead of summer (coinciding with SI’s double issue “Where are They Now?”) and the U.S. Open final is usually played on Week One of the NFL season.

c) I am not *the* decision maker, but I am a decision maker. I lobby for tennis when appropriate (see: Serena Williams 2015) but sometimes need to suppress my fondness for the sport. The truth is tennis is still a niche sport and the fact is, “consumer interest/demand” impacts editorial decisions.

d) I reiterate my quote in the above story: “This has been a source of ribbing with Federer and his camp, but for Federer—being the mensch that he is—it’s never been the basis for declining an interview or anything like that. Also, I should point this out: Not once did he denigrate Dwyane Wade or question his bona fides.”

I'm sure most of your readers know the legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away a few days before Christmas. I was wondering if you might suggest having him enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame as a contributor. He has already been inducted into the Baseball, Basketball, and Football Halls of Fame. I always greatly enjoyed hearing him commentate on tennis matches. He had a very gentlemanly and respectful demeanor that left viewers feeling calm and focused on sporting events. He will be missed by millions.
Raymond

• At some point, remind me to tell you a Dick Enberg story sometime.

I like your idea. The Hall of Fame encourages you send nominations to the website tennisfame.com.

Strolling through a mall recently, I came upon a Godiva chocolate shop. Recalling a Federer commercial of several years ago for chocolates, but not the brand, I asked the two counter clerks, “Is this the chocolate Roger Federer endorses?” They looked at each other quizzically, then responded, “Who is Roger Federer?” Speechless, I quickly left, realizing that there are people on the planet who did not know this name. As a long-time fan, I should have known Federer endorses Lindt chocolates.
Mark, Fullerton, Calif.

• Keep this in mind, tennis fans, as Valentines Day approaches…

Shots, Miscellany

• From tennis player to Super Bowl winner sounds like a demotion to me. But (h/t Jonathan Jones) good for Jake Elliott.

• RIP Diane Straus, champion of paddle tennis.

• The Volvo Car Open has added another top WTA player to its 2018 field. World No. 10 Julia Goerges will play in the Charleston tournament this year.

• On the heels of signing 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, today announced the signing of former Wimbledon Doubles Champion, JoAnne Russell, to its Team Selkirk Professional Pickleball Advisory Staff.

• IMG announced that the longest-running women’s professional tournament on the WTA tour has signed Mubadala Investment Company as its new title sponsor. IMG has also entered into a long-term agreement with San José State University to host the event beginning in 2018, reinforcing its commitment to keeping the WTA Premier event in California’s Bay Area.

• Tip of the tam o' shanter to Denise Tyler, doyenne of the Wimbledon pressroom. We wish her well.

The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils.

• This week’s LLS is from Sam from San Diego: Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Roger Federer, and Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States.

• This week’s Reader Rant comes from Zaid Noorsumar: Hi Jon. I've been reading your SI column on and off for about a decade (it's #MeNotYou; my interest has dwindled at times), but writing to you for the first time. I thought this was a good opportunity to highlight my Pakistani countrymen's 4-0 Davis Cup victory over a Chung-less Korea (and to indulge in some shameless self-promotion).

The win was forged by Pakistan's aging stalwarts Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan, both of whom are on the wrong side of 40. But here's the compelling part—this win came on home soil, where Pakistan's slick grass courts (think Wimbledon in the ‘80s) make our team virtually unbeatable as our unbeaten record since 1997 attests.

Unfortunately, from the mid-2000s to 2017, Pakistan was unable to host ties (at the risk of attracting the ire of my compatriots, I will say for good reason). So every time Pakistan has come close to qualifying for the World Group, it has stumbled because of the lack of home advantage. But this time we can rely on the comfort of home as we once again are just two matches away from the elusive main draw.

Considering the advanced ages of our best and most reliable players, it may be now or never for Pakistan. Some of your readers would be familiar with Aisam, but they could have been as easily have been acquainted with Aqeel, if not for his working class background, as chronicled in my long-form 2016 feature on him (in my defense, I am trying to break into journalism).

<p>Flotsam and jetsam.</p><p>1. Michael Stich, recently voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is the next guest on the SI/Tennis Channel tennis podcast.</p><p>2. Awkwardly, we have had some recent inquiries about sponsoring the podcast. I—intentionally—stay out of the commerce side, but feel free to contact me and I’ll forward inquiries to the sales staff accordingly.</p><p>3. New York readers: a) The <a href="http://newyorkopen.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:New York Open" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">New York Open</a> starts next week. B) <em>Balls</em>, an off Broadway show based on Billie Jean King, runs through Feb. 25. Tickets <a href="http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=307" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>. c) “The USTA announced that the 2018 US Open will introduce a new daily match schedule for the tournament, made possible by the completion of the strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and the opening of the new 14,000 seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2018, both Arthur Ashe Stadium and the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will hold dedicated day and night sessions.”</p><p>Upward and Onward….</p><h3>Mailbag</h3><p><em>Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him <a href="https://twitter.com/jon_wertheim" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jon_wertheim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>@jon_wertheim</strong></a>.</em></p><p><strong>To your question about whether Roger Federer will play or skip the French Open: I think he will skip it but I think he should have a go at it. In 2017 RF finally got really comfortable with the bigger racket, meaning his more aggressive style of play and his execution are in sync. He can take the French Open even if Nadal plays—36 is not old for everyone, it is just a number. Some are old at 21. I know: two hips replaced, prostate gone and I still ski and play basketball.</strong></p><p>• Never mind RF. Go, you! To hell with your missing hips and prostate. I tend to agree with you. Federer is understandably wary of clay and understandably rational. You come on a cold day and tweak your back—at the major you’re least likely to win—and there goes your entire summer.</p><p>But, again, especially given all the other cars in the shop, Federer is close to pole position right now. If the French Open started tomorrow and Nadal was not 100%, who else beats him? In best-of-five? With raucous crowd support? And, yes, with influence on the schedulers?</p><p><strong>I totally disagree with you regarding Helena Sukova, whom I feel you unintentionally belittled calling her a &quot;doubles star.” If doubles count for nothing, stop playing them, but I&#39;m sure you believe that players like the Bryan brothers, the Woodies or Daniel Nestor are Hall of Famers, though their singles careers are far less impressive than Sukova. She is a nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and a five-time mixed doubles champ. She was No. 1 in the world and won two Olympic silver medals. As a singles player she reached four Grand Slam finals and was ranked no. 4. She was also very involved in tennis in the Czech Republic after she hung up her racket. In my opinion she&#39;s as deserving, if not more so, than the (deserving in their on rights) likes of Gigi Fernández, Rosie Casals or Frew McMillan. Stich is a &quot;stichier&quot; matter, and definitely opens the door for the likes of Cilic and Delpo.</strong><br>—<em>Gilad from Israel</em></p><p>• I’m open to either possibility, but either you misinterpreted, or I wrote that poorly. In the case of Sukova I think we have the Hall of Fame version of the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/01/what-every-pro-tennis-player-does-better-than-roger-federer/283007/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Simpson’s Paradox." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Simpson’s Paradox.</a></p><p>She doesn’t get in on the basis of her singles. She may or may not get in on the basis of her doubles. But add them together and she gets the call. Full disclosure: I did not vote for Sukova. But I respect those who did.</p><p>There’s a question bubbling just beneath the surface that’s disingenuous not to pose. The Hall of Fame ceremony is a source of revenue and publicity that coincides with the final weekend of the ATP event. Is the Hall of Fame prepared to skip a ceremony altogether one year? “This year we induct no one.” If there’s not a willingness to confront this possibility—and that may be a completely legitimate response—we should condition ourselves to admitting one-time Slam champions.</p><p>A lot of you have written in, asking about the relatively modest C.V.’s of both inductees. I get that. But spun more favorably, maybe the message is that “Slams won” isn&#39;t the only barometer of success.</p><p><strong>Does it make sense that Serena Williams (or Azarenka or Clijsters) loses her ranking while off the tour due to pregnancy and childbirth? This isn&#39;t an overuse injury or a doping ban. A No. 1 player leaves the tour to carry and give birth to a child then has to deal with the monumental changes to her body to be able to compete again. All that necessarily takes more than a year. Surely she shouldn&#39;t be punished for it! Do you know if the WTA is considering rule changes?</strong><br>—<em>Claire, Ottawa</em></p><p>• I could go either way. Not the most generous parental leave program. But you’re in a competitive industry. Your status necessarily impacts someone else’s.</p><p><strong>What do you think about Djokovic&#39;s surgery or whatever it was? Do you think journalists should try to clarify exactly what procedure he had?</strong><br>—<em>Jay, Brooklyn </em></p><p>• In theory I agree with you. Most sports have standards for keeping fans—that is, customers—abreast of injuries. In a sport, though, where there are no teams and no league but the competitors are individual contractors, this kind of transparency (or translucency in the case of the Patriots) is hard to legislate.</p><p>Inquiries here are totally fair game. “Novak, please clarify why it is your hand is bandaged.” But, candidly, I think athlete discretion/privacy is fair, too. “Listen, guys. It’s my body and my injury and I would prefer not to discuss it.”</p><p><strong>Do you remember <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/sport-comment/roger-federer-must-say-farewell-to-tennis-now-to-avoid-damaging-his-legend-8799203.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:this article" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">this article</a> from five years ago? Haha! &quot;With great power comes great responsibility.”</strong></p><p>• Here’s what needs retiring: the phrase “damaging/tarnishing one’s legacy.” In fairness to the writer, you could make the case that one of the media’s jobs is to anticipate and, yes, prognosticate. We have business projections and weather forecasts and “ones to watch.” Sometimes <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/arts/television/simpsons-prediction-future.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:predictions" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">predictions</a> pan out; sometimes you are the guy predicting the tulip boom of 17th-century Holland or the impossibility of the self-driving car.</p><p><strong>Hi Jon, hope you are well. With Federer putting even more distance between himself and Tiger Woods in major titles after the recently completed Australian Open, do you think Sports Illustrated will ever do an article/investigation on how they really missed the boat over the years in their relatively minimal coverage of Federer? (Is it two covers and zero Sportsperson of the Year awards? Dwyane Wade in 2006???) Is the overreaching reason for Federer&#39;s lack of coverage that tennis as a whole is not held in as high regard as golf? Of course Serena got her Sportsperson of the Year even though Novak was actually closer to the Grand Slam... Did Steffi get Sportsperson of the Year when she pulled off a Golden Slam in &#39;88 (at the age of what 18/19?)?</strong></p><p><strong>Anyhow, I found it very interesting that on the same weekend of Federer winning his 20th Slam title, Woods received as much or more mainstream press for making a cut.</strong><br>—<em>Dennis Szalkai, Vancouver, Canada</em></p><p>• Even by tennis’ standards, this could be a bridge too far in terms of conflicts of interest. I can&#39;t really talk objectively. Here’s what I will say:</p><p>a) Now that the 10-year statute of limitations has lapsed, we can concede that for 2006, <a href="https://www.si.com/sports-illustrated/2016/12/01/dwyane-wade-roger-federer-sportsperson-year-2006" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Federer was the better choice" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Federer was the better choice</a>.</p><p>b) Tennis is a bit handicapped by the sports schedule. The Australian Open comes the week before the Super Bowl. The French Open comes in the thick of the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. Wimbledon is the dead of summer (coinciding with SI’s double issue “Where are They Now?”) and the U.S. Open final is usually played on Week One of the NFL season.</p><p>c) I am not *the* decision maker, but I am a decision maker. I lobby for tennis when appropriate (see: Serena Williams 2015) but sometimes need to suppress my fondness for the sport. The truth is tennis is still a niche sport and the fact is, “consumer interest/demand” impacts editorial decisions.</p><p>d) I reiterate my quote in the above story: “This has been a source of ribbing with Federer and his camp, but for Federer—being the mensch that he is—it’s never been the basis for declining an interview or anything like that. Also, I should point this out: Not once did he denigrate Dwyane Wade or question his bona fides.”</p><p><strong>I&#39;m sure most of your readers know the legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away a few days before Christmas. I was wondering if you might suggest having him enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame as a contributor. He has already been inducted into the Baseball, Basketball, and Football Halls of Fame. I always greatly enjoyed hearing him commentate on tennis matches. He had a very gentlemanly and respectful demeanor that left viewers feeling calm and focused on sporting events. He will be missed by millions.</strong><br>—<em>Raymond</em></p><p>• At some point, remind me to tell you a Dick Enberg story sometime.</p><p>I like your idea. The Hall of Fame encourages you send nominations to the website <a href="http://tennisfame.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tennisfame.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tennisfame.com</a>. </p><p><strong>Strolling through a mall recently, I came upon a Godiva chocolate shop. Recalling a Federer commercial of several years ago for chocolates, but not the brand, I asked the two counter clerks, “Is this the chocolate Roger Federer endorses?” They looked at each other quizzically, then responded, “Who is Roger Federer?” Speechless, I quickly left, realizing that there are people on the planet who did not know this name. As a long-time fan, I should have known Federer endorses Lindt chocolates.</strong><br>—<em>Mark, Fullerton, Calif.</em></p><p>• Keep this in mind, tennis fans, as Valentines Day approaches…</p><h3> Shots, Miscellany </h3><p>• From tennis player to Super Bowl winner sounds like a demotion to me. But (h/t Jonathan Jones) <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/31/jake-elliott-philadelphia-eagles-kicker-high-school-tennis-super-bowl-52" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:good for Jake Elliott" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">good for Jake Elliott</a>.</p><p> • RIP Diane Straus, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/obituaries/diane-straus-publisher-of-liberal-policy-magazines-dies-at-66.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:champion of paddle tennis." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">champion of paddle tennis.</a></p><p> • The Volvo Car Open has added another top WTA player to its 2018 field. World No. 10 Julia Goerges will play in the Charleston tournament this year. </p><p>• On the heels of signing 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, today announced the signing of former Wimbledon Doubles Champion, JoAnne Russell, to its Team Selkirk Professional Pickleball Advisory Staff.</p><p>• IMG announced that the longest-running women’s professional tournament on the WTA tour has signed Mubadala Investment Company as its new title sponsor. IMG has also entered into a long-term agreement with San José State University to host the event beginning in 2018, reinforcing its commitment to keeping the WTA Premier event in California’s Bay Area.</p><p>• Tip of the tam o&#39; shanter to Denise Tyler, doyenne of the Wimbledon pressroom. We wish her well.</p><p>• <a href="http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/chronicling-monfils-comeback-february-2018" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils.</a> </p><p>• This week’s LLS is from Sam from San Diego: Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Roger Federer, and Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States.</p><p>• This week’s Reader Rant comes from Zaid Noorsumar: <strong>Hi Jon. I&#39;ve been reading your SI column on and off for about a decade (it&#39;s #MeNotYou; my interest has dwindled at times), but writing to you for the first time. </strong><strong>I thought this was a good opportunity to highlight my Pakistani countrymen&#39;s 4-0 Davis Cup victory over a Chung-less Korea (and to indulge in some shameless self-promotion). </strong></p><p><strong>The win was forged by Pakistan&#39;s aging stalwarts Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan, both of whom are on the wrong side of 40. But here&#39;s the compelling part—this win came on home soil, where Pakistan&#39;s slick grass courts (think Wimbledon in the ‘80s) make our team virtually unbeatable as our unbeaten record since 1997 attests. </strong></p><p><strong>Unfortunately, from the mid-2000s to 2017, Pakistan was unable to host ties (at the risk of attracting the ire of my compatriots, I will say for good reason). </strong><strong>So every time Pakistan has come close to qualifying for the World Group, it has stumbled because of the lack of home advantage. But this time we can rely on the comfort of home as we once again are just two matches away from the elusive main draw. </strong></p><p><strong>Considering the advanced ages of our best and most reliable players, it may be now or never for Pakistan. Some of your readers would be familiar with Aisam, but they could have been as easily have been acquainted with Aqeel, if not for his working class background, as chronicled in my long-form 2016 feature on him (in my defense, I am trying to break into journalism).</strong></p>
Mailbag: What Message Is Hall of Fame Sending with Recent Inductees?

Flotsam and jetsam.

1. Michael Stich, recently voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is the next guest on the SI/Tennis Channel tennis podcast.

2. Awkwardly, we have had some recent inquiries about sponsoring the podcast. I—intentionally—stay out of the commerce side, but feel free to contact me and I’ll forward inquiries to the sales staff accordingly.

3. New York readers: a) The New York Open starts next week. B) Balls, an off Broadway show based on Billie Jean King, runs through Feb. 25. Tickets here. c) “The USTA announced that the 2018 US Open will introduce a new daily match schedule for the tournament, made possible by the completion of the strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and the opening of the new 14,000 seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 2018, both Arthur Ashe Stadium and the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will hold dedicated day and night sessions.”

Upward and Onward….

Mailbag

Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

To your question about whether Roger Federer will play or skip the French Open: I think he will skip it but I think he should have a go at it. In 2017 RF finally got really comfortable with the bigger racket, meaning his more aggressive style of play and his execution are in sync. He can take the French Open even if Nadal plays—36 is not old for everyone, it is just a number. Some are old at 21. I know: two hips replaced, prostate gone and I still ski and play basketball.

• Never mind RF. Go, you! To hell with your missing hips and prostate. I tend to agree with you. Federer is understandably wary of clay and understandably rational. You come on a cold day and tweak your back—at the major you’re least likely to win—and there goes your entire summer.

But, again, especially given all the other cars in the shop, Federer is close to pole position right now. If the French Open started tomorrow and Nadal was not 100%, who else beats him? In best-of-five? With raucous crowd support? And, yes, with influence on the schedulers?

I totally disagree with you regarding Helena Sukova, whom I feel you unintentionally belittled calling her a "doubles star.” If doubles count for nothing, stop playing them, but I'm sure you believe that players like the Bryan brothers, the Woodies or Daniel Nestor are Hall of Famers, though their singles careers are far less impressive than Sukova. She is a nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion and a five-time mixed doubles champ. She was No. 1 in the world and won two Olympic silver medals. As a singles player she reached four Grand Slam finals and was ranked no. 4. She was also very involved in tennis in the Czech Republic after she hung up her racket. In my opinion she's as deserving, if not more so, than the (deserving in their on rights) likes of Gigi Fernández, Rosie Casals or Frew McMillan. Stich is a "stichier" matter, and definitely opens the door for the likes of Cilic and Delpo.
Gilad from Israel

• I’m open to either possibility, but either you misinterpreted, or I wrote that poorly. In the case of Sukova I think we have the Hall of Fame version of the Simpson’s Paradox.

She doesn’t get in on the basis of her singles. She may or may not get in on the basis of her doubles. But add them together and she gets the call. Full disclosure: I did not vote for Sukova. But I respect those who did.

There’s a question bubbling just beneath the surface that’s disingenuous not to pose. The Hall of Fame ceremony is a source of revenue and publicity that coincides with the final weekend of the ATP event. Is the Hall of Fame prepared to skip a ceremony altogether one year? “This year we induct no one.” If there’s not a willingness to confront this possibility—and that may be a completely legitimate response—we should condition ourselves to admitting one-time Slam champions.

A lot of you have written in, asking about the relatively modest C.V.’s of both inductees. I get that. But spun more favorably, maybe the message is that “Slams won” isn't the only barometer of success.

Does it make sense that Serena Williams (or Azarenka or Clijsters) loses her ranking while off the tour due to pregnancy and childbirth? This isn't an overuse injury or a doping ban. A No. 1 player leaves the tour to carry and give birth to a child then has to deal with the monumental changes to her body to be able to compete again. All that necessarily takes more than a year. Surely she shouldn't be punished for it! Do you know if the WTA is considering rule changes?
Claire, Ottawa

• I could go either way. Not the most generous parental leave program. But you’re in a competitive industry. Your status necessarily impacts someone else’s.

What do you think about Djokovic's surgery or whatever it was? Do you think journalists should try to clarify exactly what procedure he had?
Jay, Brooklyn

• In theory I agree with you. Most sports have standards for keeping fans—that is, customers—abreast of injuries. In a sport, though, where there are no teams and no league but the competitors are individual contractors, this kind of transparency (or translucency in the case of the Patriots) is hard to legislate.

Inquiries here are totally fair game. “Novak, please clarify why it is your hand is bandaged.” But, candidly, I think athlete discretion/privacy is fair, too. “Listen, guys. It’s my body and my injury and I would prefer not to discuss it.”

Do you remember this article from five years ago? Haha! "With great power comes great responsibility.”

• Here’s what needs retiring: the phrase “damaging/tarnishing one’s legacy.” In fairness to the writer, you could make the case that one of the media’s jobs is to anticipate and, yes, prognosticate. We have business projections and weather forecasts and “ones to watch.” Sometimes predictions pan out; sometimes you are the guy predicting the tulip boom of 17th-century Holland or the impossibility of the self-driving car.

Hi Jon, hope you are well. With Federer putting even more distance between himself and Tiger Woods in major titles after the recently completed Australian Open, do you think Sports Illustrated will ever do an article/investigation on how they really missed the boat over the years in their relatively minimal coverage of Federer? (Is it two covers and zero Sportsperson of the Year awards? Dwyane Wade in 2006???) Is the overreaching reason for Federer's lack of coverage that tennis as a whole is not held in as high regard as golf? Of course Serena got her Sportsperson of the Year even though Novak was actually closer to the Grand Slam... Did Steffi get Sportsperson of the Year when she pulled off a Golden Slam in '88 (at the age of what 18/19?)?

Anyhow, I found it very interesting that on the same weekend of Federer winning his 20th Slam title, Woods received as much or more mainstream press for making a cut.
Dennis Szalkai, Vancouver, Canada

• Even by tennis’ standards, this could be a bridge too far in terms of conflicts of interest. I can't really talk objectively. Here’s what I will say:

a) Now that the 10-year statute of limitations has lapsed, we can concede that for 2006, Federer was the better choice.

b) Tennis is a bit handicapped by the sports schedule. The Australian Open comes the week before the Super Bowl. The French Open comes in the thick of the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. Wimbledon is the dead of summer (coinciding with SI’s double issue “Where are They Now?”) and the U.S. Open final is usually played on Week One of the NFL season.

c) I am not *the* decision maker, but I am a decision maker. I lobby for tennis when appropriate (see: Serena Williams 2015) but sometimes need to suppress my fondness for the sport. The truth is tennis is still a niche sport and the fact is, “consumer interest/demand” impacts editorial decisions.

d) I reiterate my quote in the above story: “This has been a source of ribbing with Federer and his camp, but for Federer—being the mensch that he is—it’s never been the basis for declining an interview or anything like that. Also, I should point this out: Not once did he denigrate Dwyane Wade or question his bona fides.”

I'm sure most of your readers know the legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg passed away a few days before Christmas. I was wondering if you might suggest having him enshrined in the Tennis Hall of Fame as a contributor. He has already been inducted into the Baseball, Basketball, and Football Halls of Fame. I always greatly enjoyed hearing him commentate on tennis matches. He had a very gentlemanly and respectful demeanor that left viewers feeling calm and focused on sporting events. He will be missed by millions.
Raymond

• At some point, remind me to tell you a Dick Enberg story sometime.

I like your idea. The Hall of Fame encourages you send nominations to the website tennisfame.com.

Strolling through a mall recently, I came upon a Godiva chocolate shop. Recalling a Federer commercial of several years ago for chocolates, but not the brand, I asked the two counter clerks, “Is this the chocolate Roger Federer endorses?” They looked at each other quizzically, then responded, “Who is Roger Federer?” Speechless, I quickly left, realizing that there are people on the planet who did not know this name. As a long-time fan, I should have known Federer endorses Lindt chocolates.
Mark, Fullerton, Calif.

• Keep this in mind, tennis fans, as Valentines Day approaches…

Shots, Miscellany

• From tennis player to Super Bowl winner sounds like a demotion to me. But (h/t Jonathan Jones) good for Jake Elliott.

• RIP Diane Straus, champion of paddle tennis.

• The Volvo Car Open has added another top WTA player to its 2018 field. World No. 10 Julia Goerges will play in the Charleston tournament this year.

• On the heels of signing 2017 USAPA National Champion, Ty McGuffin, Selkirk Sport, a leading manufacturer of Pickleball paddles and accessories, today announced the signing of former Wimbledon Doubles Champion, JoAnne Russell, to its Team Selkirk Professional Pickleball Advisory Staff.

• IMG announced that the longest-running women’s professional tournament on the WTA tour has signed Mubadala Investment Company as its new title sponsor. IMG has also entered into a long-term agreement with San José State University to host the event beginning in 2018, reinforcing its commitment to keeping the WTA Premier event in California’s Bay Area.

• Tip of the tam o' shanter to Denise Tyler, doyenne of the Wimbledon pressroom. We wish her well.

The lovely, the talented, Gael Monfils.

• This week’s LLS is from Sam from San Diego: Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Roger Federer, and Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States.

• This week’s Reader Rant comes from Zaid Noorsumar: Hi Jon. I've been reading your SI column on and off for about a decade (it's #MeNotYou; my interest has dwindled at times), but writing to you for the first time. I thought this was a good opportunity to highlight my Pakistani countrymen's 4-0 Davis Cup victory over a Chung-less Korea (and to indulge in some shameless self-promotion).

The win was forged by Pakistan's aging stalwarts Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan, both of whom are on the wrong side of 40. But here's the compelling part—this win came on home soil, where Pakistan's slick grass courts (think Wimbledon in the ‘80s) make our team virtually unbeatable as our unbeaten record since 1997 attests.

Unfortunately, from the mid-2000s to 2017, Pakistan was unable to host ties (at the risk of attracting the ire of my compatriots, I will say for good reason). So every time Pakistan has come close to qualifying for the World Group, it has stumbled because of the lack of home advantage. But this time we can rely on the comfort of home as we once again are just two matches away from the elusive main draw.

Considering the advanced ages of our best and most reliable players, it may be now or never for Pakistan. Some of your readers would be familiar with Aisam, but they could have been as easily have been acquainted with Aqeel, if not for his working class background, as chronicled in my long-form 2016 feature on him (in my defense, I am trying to break into journalism).

FILE PHOTO - Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2018. Spain&#39;s Rafael Nadal in action during his match against Croatia&#39;s Marin Cilic. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia
FILE PHOTO - Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2018. Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his match against Croatia's Marin Cilic. REUTERS/Issei Kato
FILE PHOTO - Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2018. Spain&#39;s Rafael Nadal in action during his match against Croatia&#39;s Marin Cilic. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia
FILE PHOTO - Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2018. Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his match against Croatia's Marin Cilic. REUTERS/Issei Kato
For the first time since 2011, Rafael Nadal intends to play the Aegon Championships at Queen&#39;s.
Nadal planning to play at Queen's in 2018
For the first time since 2011, Rafael Nadal intends to play the Aegon Championships at Queen's.
Rafael Nadal returns against David Goffin during their singles match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London (AFP Photo/Glyn KIRK )
Rafael Nadal returns against David Goffin during their singles match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London
Rafael Nadal returns against David Goffin during their singles match on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London (AFP Photo/Glyn KIRK )
Ten years after his legendary Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal will to try to recapture his finest hour by entering the Queen’s Club Championship in June. Nadal has struggled on grass lately, having not reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since 2011. But his performances in SW19 have always been stronger when he has taken the time to acclimatise himself via a strong run at Queen’s. Consider 2008 as an example. Having just won his fourth French Open, Nadal lifted the gigantic Queen’s trophy courtesy of a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic. And that was the precursor to a five-set win over Federer the following month that is often cited as the greatest match in history. “I am very excited to communicate that I am going to come to Queen’s in 2018,” said Nadal. “It is going to be the tenth anniversary of my victory in 2008, it’s a great memory, winning there and three weeks later winning Wimbledon. It was an unforgettable year.” Since the Queen’s Club Championships received an upgrade in 2015, becoming a 500-point event, the entry lists have grown stronger with each passing year. Nadal has been a part of this trend, reaffirming a commitment to the tournament that had waned after his run to the quarter-finals in 2011, largely because of a punitive UK tax regime that allowed HMRC to claim a slice of visiting players’ sponsorship income. Federer vs Nadal - The five ages of tennis&#39;s greatest rivalry Since the upgrade, Nadal has entered Queen’s each year. Unfortunately, his actual physical presence in Baron’s Court has been limited to one first-round defeat, against Alexandr Dolgopolov in 2015. He was forced to miss the whole of the grass-court season in 2016 because of a wrist tendon injury, and then made a late withdrawal from Queen’s last summer citing exhaustion. With the world No. 1 established on the entry list, tournament director Stephen Farrow will also hope that Andy Murray – the only man to win Queen’s five times – can fulfil his stated intention to return from hip surgery during the grass-court season. Murray has a lifetime deal with the event. Queen&#39;s hope to have Andy Murray in attendance Credit: Getty images Meanwhile Great Britain’s Fed Cup squad will begin their latest quest to escape from the notoriously difficult Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 on Wednesday. Led by Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, they face Portugal in the first of their group-stage matches at 2pm GMT. Estonia then lie in wait on Friday. In order to earn another play-off for a place in the World Group – like the controversial one they lost against Ilie Nastase’s Romanian team in Constanta last April – Anne Keothavong’s team need to top their group and then beat one of the other group-winners (probably Croatia, if the seedings are to be believed) on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal to prepare for Wimbledon with Queen's appearance
Ten years after his legendary Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal will to try to recapture his finest hour by entering the Queen’s Club Championship in June. Nadal has struggled on grass lately, having not reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since 2011. But his performances in SW19 have always been stronger when he has taken the time to acclimatise himself via a strong run at Queen’s. Consider 2008 as an example. Having just won his fourth French Open, Nadal lifted the gigantic Queen’s trophy courtesy of a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic. And that was the precursor to a five-set win over Federer the following month that is often cited as the greatest match in history. “I am very excited to communicate that I am going to come to Queen’s in 2018,” said Nadal. “It is going to be the tenth anniversary of my victory in 2008, it’s a great memory, winning there and three weeks later winning Wimbledon. It was an unforgettable year.” Since the Queen’s Club Championships received an upgrade in 2015, becoming a 500-point event, the entry lists have grown stronger with each passing year. Nadal has been a part of this trend, reaffirming a commitment to the tournament that had waned after his run to the quarter-finals in 2011, largely because of a punitive UK tax regime that allowed HMRC to claim a slice of visiting players’ sponsorship income. Federer vs Nadal - The five ages of tennis's greatest rivalry Since the upgrade, Nadal has entered Queen’s each year. Unfortunately, his actual physical presence in Baron’s Court has been limited to one first-round defeat, against Alexandr Dolgopolov in 2015. He was forced to miss the whole of the grass-court season in 2016 because of a wrist tendon injury, and then made a late withdrawal from Queen’s last summer citing exhaustion. With the world No. 1 established on the entry list, tournament director Stephen Farrow will also hope that Andy Murray – the only man to win Queen’s five times – can fulfil his stated intention to return from hip surgery during the grass-court season. Murray has a lifetime deal with the event. Queen's hope to have Andy Murray in attendance Credit: Getty images Meanwhile Great Britain’s Fed Cup squad will begin their latest quest to escape from the notoriously difficult Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 on Wednesday. Led by Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, they face Portugal in the first of their group-stage matches at 2pm GMT. Estonia then lie in wait on Friday. In order to earn another play-off for a place in the World Group – like the controversial one they lost against Ilie Nastase’s Romanian team in Constanta last April – Anne Keothavong’s team need to top their group and then beat one of the other group-winners (probably Croatia, if the seedings are to be believed) on Saturday.
Ten years after his legendary Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal will to try to recapture his finest hour by entering the Queen’s Club Championship in June. Nadal has struggled on grass lately, having not reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since 2011. But his performances in SW19 have always been stronger when he has taken the time to acclimatise himself via a strong run at Queen’s. Consider 2008 as an example. Having just won his fourth French Open, Nadal lifted the gigantic Queen’s trophy courtesy of a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic. And that was the precursor to a five-set win over Federer the following month that is often cited as the greatest match in history. “I am very excited to communicate that I am going to come to Queen’s in 2018,” said Nadal. “It is going to be the tenth anniversary of my victory in 2008, it’s a great memory, winning there and three weeks later winning Wimbledon. It was an unforgettable year.” Since the Queen’s Club Championships received an upgrade in 2015, becoming a 500-point event, the entry lists have grown stronger with each passing year. Nadal has been a part of this trend, reaffirming a commitment to the tournament that had waned after his run to the quarter-finals in 2011, largely because of a punitive UK tax regime that allowed HMRC to claim a slice of visiting players’ sponsorship income. Federer vs Nadal - The five ages of tennis&#39;s greatest rivalry Since the upgrade, Nadal has entered Queen’s each year. Unfortunately, his actual physical presence in Baron’s Court has been limited to one first-round defeat, against Alexandr Dolgopolov in 2015. He was forced to miss the whole of the grass-court season in 2016 because of a wrist tendon injury, and then made a late withdrawal from Queen’s last summer citing exhaustion. With the world No. 1 established on the entry list, tournament director Stephen Farrow will also hope that Andy Murray – the only man to win Queen’s five times – can fulfil his stated intention to return from hip surgery during the grass-court season. Murray has a lifetime deal with the event. Queen&#39;s hope to have Andy Murray in attendance Credit: Getty images Meanwhile Great Britain’s Fed Cup squad will begin their latest quest to escape from the notoriously difficult Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 on Wednesday. Led by Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, they face Portugal in the first of their group-stage matches at 2pm GMT. Estonia then lie in wait on Friday. In order to earn another play-off for a place in the World Group – like the controversial one they lost against Ilie Nastase’s Romanian team in Constanta last April – Anne Keothavong’s team need to top their group and then beat one of the other group-winners (probably Croatia, if the seedings are to be believed) on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal to prepare for Wimbledon with Queen's appearance
Ten years after his legendary Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal will to try to recapture his finest hour by entering the Queen’s Club Championship in June. Nadal has struggled on grass lately, having not reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals since 2011. But his performances in SW19 have always been stronger when he has taken the time to acclimatise himself via a strong run at Queen’s. Consider 2008 as an example. Having just won his fourth French Open, Nadal lifted the gigantic Queen’s trophy courtesy of a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic. And that was the precursor to a five-set win over Federer the following month that is often cited as the greatest match in history. “I am very excited to communicate that I am going to come to Queen’s in 2018,” said Nadal. “It is going to be the tenth anniversary of my victory in 2008, it’s a great memory, winning there and three weeks later winning Wimbledon. It was an unforgettable year.” Since the Queen’s Club Championships received an upgrade in 2015, becoming a 500-point event, the entry lists have grown stronger with each passing year. Nadal has been a part of this trend, reaffirming a commitment to the tournament that had waned after his run to the quarter-finals in 2011, largely because of a punitive UK tax regime that allowed HMRC to claim a slice of visiting players’ sponsorship income. Federer vs Nadal - The five ages of tennis's greatest rivalry Since the upgrade, Nadal has entered Queen’s each year. Unfortunately, his actual physical presence in Baron’s Court has been limited to one first-round defeat, against Alexandr Dolgopolov in 2015. He was forced to miss the whole of the grass-court season in 2016 because of a wrist tendon injury, and then made a late withdrawal from Queen’s last summer citing exhaustion. With the world No. 1 established on the entry list, tournament director Stephen Farrow will also hope that Andy Murray – the only man to win Queen’s five times – can fulfil his stated intention to return from hip surgery during the grass-court season. Murray has a lifetime deal with the event. Queen's hope to have Andy Murray in attendance Credit: Getty images Meanwhile Great Britain’s Fed Cup squad will begin their latest quest to escape from the notoriously difficult Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 on Wednesday. Led by Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, they face Portugal in the first of their group-stage matches at 2pm GMT. Estonia then lie in wait on Friday. In order to earn another play-off for a place in the World Group – like the controversial one they lost against Ilie Nastase’s Romanian team in Constanta last April – Anne Keothavong’s team need to top their group and then beat one of the other group-winners (probably Croatia, if the seedings are to be believed) on Saturday.
A thigh injury forced Spain&#39;s Rafael Nadal to pull out of the Australian Open quarter-final (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)
A thigh injury forced Spain's Rafael Nadal to pull out of the Australian Open quarter-final
A thigh injury forced Spain's Rafael Nadal to pull out of the Australian Open quarter-final (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)
FILE - This is a Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo of Spain&#39;s Rafael Nadal hits a forehand return to Croatia&#39;s Marin Cilic during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. Nadal said Monday Feb. 5, 2018 that he is recovering well from the muscle injury that forced him to retire in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last month. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill/ File)
Nadal expects to be fit to play in Acapulco this month
FILE - This is a Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo of Spain's Rafael Nadal hits a forehand return to Croatia's Marin Cilic during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. Nadal said Monday Feb. 5, 2018 that he is recovering well from the muscle injury that forced him to retire in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last month. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill/ File)
<p>Wrapping up the 2018 Australian Open, jet lag edition.</p><p>1) Here’s <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/01/29/podcast-australian-open-review-federer-wozniacki-halep-kyrgios-keys-sandgren" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a wrap-up podcast" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a wrap-up podcast</a> for your listening pleasure.</p><p>2) Next podcast guest: 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Michael Stich.</p><p>3) Here’s the <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/01/28/australian-open-2018-jon-wertheim-50-parting-thoughts-federer-wozniacki" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:50 Thoughts column" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">50 Thoughts column</a> for those who missed it.</p><p>4) Good soldiering: For the top news, expert debate, and match analysis, check out the new Tennis Channel app. <a href="http://tnns.ch/app" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Download it now." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Download it now.</a> </p><p>5) New York readers: <a href="http://newyorkopen.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hyeon Chung is coming to these parts." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hyeon Chung is coming to these parts.</a></p><p>6) Lots of questions and still more comments about Tennys Sandgren. Lashing and backlashing, as it were. I propose we take a break here. Sandgren has made apologies, he’s specifically renounced the alt-right, he’s clarified some positions. Does this absolve him from sentiments that remain deeply offensive to many? No. But if he has a capacity to shift his views, perhaps we should at least remain open to the possibility of shifting our views about him.</p><p>Slate’s Josh Levin and ESPN’s Howard Bryant, as is their wont, had a smart take as well as some choice words about ESPN’s treatment of Sandgren. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/hang_up_and_listen/2018/01/michigan_state_the_australian_open_and_the_nba_s_all_star_draft.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hit the 32:00 minute mark or so." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hit the 32:00 minute mark or so. </a></p><h3>Mailbag</h3><p><em>Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him <a href="https://twitter.com/jon_wertheim" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:@jon_wertheim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>@jon_wertheim</strong></a>.</em></p><p>Some rapid fire Q/A… </p><p><strong>If you were a betting man, does Federer take one more shot at the French Open to get two of everything?</strong><br>—<em>@pmalan1979</em></p><p>• Great question. I am not a betting man. Otherwise I couldn&#39;t cover tennis. Which is weird when betting sites can sponsor events and members of players’ entourages can get paid for wearing shirts advertising betting sites. But let’s save that for another time.</p><p>My guess: Federer sticks to his plan and again skips clay. The surface asks so much of him physically. And his decision was validated in 2017. If I’m him, I’m paying close attention to Nadal. If Nadal is healthy and blazing his usual trail through the dirt, I make like Billy Crystal and Forget Paris. If Nadal is vulnerable, I think seriously about playing Paris. Other than Nadal, who is well positioned to beat Federer in a best-of-five clay match these days? </p><p><strong>A couple of years ago when asked how many more majors Federer would win, you said that if you had to pick between 0 and 1 you’d pick 1 but if forced to pick between 0 and 2 you’d pick 0. So, how many more majors does Federer win?</strong><br>—<em>David B., London</em></p><p>• If I may approach the bench, when I made that prediction Federer had gone four years without a major. (Let’s pause for a moment and note that he wandered the Slam desert from Wimbledon 2012 until Australia 2017. Those 20 majors are all the more impressive given a nearly five-year dry spell.) I’m out of the prognostication game now but all bets—there we are, betting again—are off. Federer is playing as well as ever, strumming that backhand and playing through rough patches in a best-of-five format. And the rest of the field is either injured or immature. Provided full health, could Federer win two more majors this year alone? Why the hell not. He’s dropped one match COMBINED at the last four Slams he’s entered.</p><p><strong>When you reference Hall of Fame credentials this has to be taken into account: one Slam from a player like Marin Cilic in this era is a greater accomplishment than during a period when the winner’s circle is constantly changing...</strong><br>—<em>@stephenbirman</em></p><p>• Fair enough. We say this all the time, but over the past 13 years, only seven different men have won majors. This will have some interesting ramifications for the Hall of Fame.</p><p>Speaking of which…lots of questions and comments about last week’s induction announcement of Michael Stich and Helena Sukova. I admit to some confusion. Last year the Hall announced some changes in the voting process as well as a move, it seemed, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/amp/Sports/wireStory/tennis-hall-fame-adds-fan-vote-makes-47613536" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:toward more rigorous criteria." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">toward more rigorous criteria.</a> </p><p>That players would be guaranteed automatic qualification if they won FIVE majors or three majors and 13 weeks at No. 1 implied a certain threshold. Yet in 2018 we have two inductees—Helena Sukova and Michael Stich—who come nowhere near that mark. Sukova was terrific in doubles, but never won a singles major. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 but was never ranked No. 1. Both players max out the “credit to the sport” qualities. Stich won Olympic gold. Sukova was a doubles star who got to No. 4 in singles. But the larger point: a precedent has been set. And based on this, many players—Marin Cilic and Caroline Wozniacki come immediately to mind—appear to have just punched their ticket.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s the current thinking on extended final sets by the folks who run the majors? Did the recent women&#39;s final change any minds? It was painful to watch Halep struggle, she had played measurably more than Wozniacki including a 15-13 and a 9-7 in the semis. I was almost hoping for an extended set and for one of them to be unable to finish so that the officials might be forced to address the issue. As it is there are pics all over the press of Halep on an IV in hospital after the match? It&#39;s just not fair to the winners of these marathons, what will it take?</strong><br>—<em>Name misplaced, Washington, D.C.</em></p><p>• If nothing else, tennis is moving away from the “tweedy country club sport” reputation. <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/01/28/simona-halep-admitted-hospital-after-australian-open-final-dehydration" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Posting photos from the hospital" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Posting photos from the hospital</a> after competition is <a href="https://www.mmafighting.com/2015/7/12/8936345/robbie-lawler-rory-macdonald-pose-for-picture-at-hospital-after-epic" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:straight out of MMA." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">straight out of MMA.</a> </p><p>But, to your point, this is not a good look. You wonder how much of this was specific to the final and how much was cumulative. But if players could repair to the hotel bar—and not the hospital or the MRI machine—that would be nice.</p><p><strong>Apart from Federer, such a disappointing men&#39;s tournament. Four of the world&#39;s five best players (Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka) injured, absent or playing in thier first match in eight months. Also, Next-Gen and Next-Next Gen were disappointing yet again. Fed played one player in top 18, two in top 35.</strong><br>—<em>Mademan1414</em></p><p>• These tournaments always take on their own shapes and characteristics. Much as we missed Serena, I loved this women’s event. In the end—for all the chaos—we had one versus two and a deserving champ. We also had some terrific matches.</p><p>Truth serum: Federer salvaged the men’s event. There were some nice storylines (see: Hyeon Chung) and some promising performances. But it’s dispiriting that the casualty list rivals a World War I battlefield. Four of the Big Five were compromised by injury. And to the reader’s point, Zverev continues to disappoint at majors. Kyrgios remains a work in progress. Dimitrov—winner of the previous big-ticket event, the WTF in London—remains a lovely guy, who’s lovely to watch…and, one fears, lacks the je ne sais quoi of a champion.</p><p><strong>Re: Sharapova. This article would have been more astute if Wertheim commented on Maria&#39;s subpar performances since she stopped (probably) taking a PED.</strong><br>—<em>@felipenopollous</em></p><p>• I tread cautiously here. In part because I disagree with the sentiment. Sharapova is in her 30s. Even in her prime she won….what? One of ten majors she entered? Correlation does not equal causation. The notion that she won five majors because of meldonium verges on the absurd.</p><p>But it’s also naïve not to address this angle. When a player is sent to the timeout corner for doping suspensions, they bear a burden of proof—at least in the eyes of some—to demonstrate that past success did not owe to banned substances. This is not unique to Sharapova. It’s not unique to tennis. You see this all the time in MMA, for example. Fighters returning from doping suspensions and speak openly about feeling an added of pressure to win and squelch skepticism. I imagine Sharapova feels something similar.</p><p>On a happier note, she need only look to the men’s final for inspiration. In 2013, Marin Cilic faced a doping suspension. He had an alibi—who doesn’t?—but was suspended for nine months, which was knocked down to four months on appeal. Since then, he’s won a lot of matches. He’s gone about his business with professionalism and an amiable spirit. There’s been no other whiff of scandal. And his past indiscretion is hardly mentioned.</p><p>Which is to say: he has met this burden of proof. And Sharapova can as well.</p><p><strong>Jon, a</strong><strong>s you know, a player who wins Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back is referenced as having won the “Sunshine Double.” </strong><strong>My question is, if a player who wins the New York Open and Delray back-to-back, how will we reference that accomplishment?</strong> <strong>A few options:</strong></p><p><strong>1. </strong><strong>The Double Bagel</strong><br><strong>2. </strong><strong>The Bagel Double </strong><br><strong>3. </strong><strong>I-95 Double</strong><br><strong>4. </strong><strong>The Kibbutz Cup</strong></p><p><strong>We need to sort out a definitive one soon, so I can properly trademark it in time. Thoughts?</strong><br>—<em>Michael</em></p><p>• Go home, everyone. You’re not doing better than “The Double Bagel.”</p><p><strong>Kudos for noting that Roger Federer has now won 10% of all majors in the Open Era. With that said, shouldn&#39;t this serve as further validation that those players that have won &quot;only&quot; one Slam are deserving of Hall of Fame election? Considering so few men have been victorious at majors in comparison to the vastly larger number of those that have actually played on tour in the last 50 years, this HAS to put them in the top 1-5% of their profession. Call me crazy, but isn&#39;t this otherworldly stuff?</strong><br>—<em>Jay Zavislak</em></p><p>• First of all, it’s otherworldly, but let’s do note that two players—Steffi Graf and Serena Williams—have an even higher percentage. And, yes, given that Federer (and Nadal and Djokovic after him) are such glory hogs (joking) it ought to force us to reassess the career of contemporaries who have won “only” one major. Flawed analogy: but if I am a British band who made a platinum album during the reign of the Beatles/Stones/Who/Zeppelin, I’m still doing well.</p><p><strong>How on earth is it possible for Mladenovic to move up into the top 10? Has she won a match since the French Open? It just doesn’t make logical sense. </strong><br>—<em>Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.</em></p><p>• She has won a match since the French Open. But, yes, this has been a brutal stretch. And perhaps her doubles success in Melbourne will catalyze her singles. How is she ranked so highly? Because those are the quirks of a 52-week rolling system. This is the place to plug the <a href="https://myutr.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:UTR" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">UTR</a>, the ranking system based on algorithm that includes momentum, games surrendered, quality of opponent—and is far more accurate and predictive. (Full disclosure: Tennis Channel has a formal relationship.) </p><p><strong>If Diego </strong><strong>Schwartzman</strong><strong> gets a mention, should also include Su-Wei Hsieh. Funky game took out a No. 3 seed, No. 26 seed and gave Kerber a run for her money. Amazed she&#39;s made $4.7 million in earnings. Good to see doubles players have a run in singles.</strong><br>—<em>@renodrew</em></p><p>• Right, you are. And she/Hsieh merits mention regardless of Schwartzman.</p><p><strong>Loved the <a href="https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/01/28/australian-open-2018-jon-wertheim-50-parting-thoughts-federer-wozniacki" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:50 Parting Thoughts" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">50 Parting Thoughts</a>. I felt I had to chime in: I am afraid you are comparing essentially apples and oranges. NFL quarterbacks helping each other is quite different from tennis players helping each other. All other things being equal, it is much more plausible for a NFL QB to take another QB&#39;s position (simply because there are only 32 starters) when compared to Zverev and Federer. It is indeed harder for Zverev to replace Federer, than for RG3 to replace Brady.</strong></p><p><strong>So, its not quite the same. I felt like your audience would appreciate context, and how good Samaritan attitudes aren&#39;t always comparable, between both sports (Favre–Rodgers story provides another classic data point too). Let&#39;s not get too carried away with feel good stories here. </strong><br>—<em>Deepak (Seattle)</em></p><p>• I agree that it’s apples and oranges. But—even with the rules protecting quarterbacks—I would push back here. RGIII was barely hanging onto his NFL job at the time. Contrast this with Zverev who a) competes directly with Federer b) beat him the previous time they played c) joins him in the top five. Seems to me Federer is much more easily supplanted than Brady was.</p><p><strong>&quot;Earlier this week Michael Stich—winner of one major—was inducted into the Hall of Fame.&quot;</strong> <strong>Stich&#39;s election was announced last week, but he won&#39;t be inducted until July.</strong><br>—<em>John H</em></p><p>• <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2018/01/25/more-sports/tennis/michael-stitch-helena-sukova-elected-international-tennis-hall-fame/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Touche." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Touche.</a></p><p><strong>I go to each Grand Slam’s website each year during the tournament. The Australian Open site was always a first class delight until this year. It was inexplicably terrible this year and I quit going to it during the tournament. A mystery since that tournament always does everything so well.</strong><br>—<em>Franklyn</em></p><p>• I’m telling you, this was the mystery of the tournament. Hate to dwell on it but so many of you (not wrongly) complained that I want to be sure your sentiment is reflected. (And if this helps shame Tennis Australia into rectifying the problem, we all win.)</p><h3>Shots, Miscellany</h3><p>• Here’s a trailer for the Carillo HBO Real Sports piece:</p><p>• <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5321445/Boris-Becker-signs-deal-German-double-glazing-firm.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:A Boris Becker update." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">A Boris Becker update.</a></p><p>• <a href="https://www.bandsintown.com/e/20802493?came_from=193" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Look who’s coming to Margaret Court Arena." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Look who’s coming to Margaret Court Arena.</a></p><p>• Your <a href="https://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/atp-announces-2019-atp-world-tour-calendar" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:2019 ATP calendar" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">2019 ATP calendar</a>.</p><p>• <a href="https://www.usta.com/en/home/pro/pro-media---news/ginepri-joins-u-s--davis-cup-team-as-new-coach.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Robby Ginepri is the new coach" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Robby Ginepri is the new coach</a> for captain Jim Courier’s Davis Cup squad.</p><p>• Roger Federer will play his first-ever match in the Bay Area on Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m. Federer will take on American tennis star Jack Sock at the SAP Center in San Jose in an exhibition match to support children’s education in Africa. Celebrity guests Bill Gates and Savannah Guthrie will also take to the court in a celebrity-pro doubles match. Tickets for Match for Africa 5 – Silicon Valley are available Friday, January 26, at 9 a.m. PST with net proceeds benefiting the Roger Federer Charitable Fund/Roger Federer Foundation.</p><p><strong>• </strong>Kia Motors extended its partnership with the Australian Open for another five years, running to 2023. “It has been an incredible partnership for Kia Motors, fully aligned to the youthful spirit of our brand,” Byung Yun Park, Executive Vice President at Kia Motors Corporation, said. “We are excited to be part of the world’s most thrilling Grand Slam tennis tournament for another five years. I’d like to thank everyone at Tennis Australia and everyone involved in organizing this incredible event for their hard work in providing unforgettable experiences, every year.”</p><p><strong>• </strong>Victor Lilov of Raleigh, N.C. made history on Sunday by winning the singles title at the prestigious Les Petits As 14-and-under junior tournament in Tarbes, France. He is the ninth player, male or female, to win both of those titles in the same year, and the fourth American, following CiCi Bellis (2013), Frances Tiafoe (2012) and Donald Young (2003), since the Teen Tennis event began in 1995.</p><p>• Tennis Canada and National Bank announced on Tuesday the launch of a new men’s professional tournament on the ATP Challenger Tour in Calgary. Sanctioned by the ATP, the tournament, which offers $75,000 U.S. in total prize money and hospitality to the players, will be held from October 13-21 at the OSTEN &#38; VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre.</p><p>• <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/JJYJC1wMw3F8JkBLi44IC2?domain=bayclubs.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Bay Club Company" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Bay Club Company</a> today announced the third annual Kunal Patel SF (KPSF) Open, running Monday, February 5 through Sunday, February 11 at Bay Club SF Tennis. The memorial tournament, which joined the ATP Challenger Tour in 2017, will host an international pool of players inside the top 100 rankings, including promising young American talent Michael Mmoh, Bjorn Fratangelo, and Bay Area native Mackenzie McDonald, and will be the largest professional tournament currently hosted inside the city of San Francisco.</p><p>HAVE A GOOD WEEK, EVERYONE!</p>
Mailbag: How Many More Majors Can Roger Federer Win?

Wrapping up the 2018 Australian Open, jet lag edition.

1) Here’s a wrap-up podcast for your listening pleasure.

2) Next podcast guest: 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Michael Stich.

3) Here’s the 50 Thoughts column for those who missed it.

4) Good soldiering: For the top news, expert debate, and match analysis, check out the new Tennis Channel app. Download it now.

5) New York readers: Hyeon Chung is coming to these parts.

6) Lots of questions and still more comments about Tennys Sandgren. Lashing and backlashing, as it were. I propose we take a break here. Sandgren has made apologies, he’s specifically renounced the alt-right, he’s clarified some positions. Does this absolve him from sentiments that remain deeply offensive to many? No. But if he has a capacity to shift his views, perhaps we should at least remain open to the possibility of shifting our views about him.

Slate’s Josh Levin and ESPN’s Howard Bryant, as is their wont, had a smart take as well as some choice words about ESPN’s treatment of Sandgren. Hit the 32:00 minute mark or so.

Mailbag

Have a question or comment for Jon? Email him at jon_wertheim@yahoo.com or tweet him @jon_wertheim.

Some rapid fire Q/A…

If you were a betting man, does Federer take one more shot at the French Open to get two of everything?
@pmalan1979

• Great question. I am not a betting man. Otherwise I couldn't cover tennis. Which is weird when betting sites can sponsor events and members of players’ entourages can get paid for wearing shirts advertising betting sites. But let’s save that for another time.

My guess: Federer sticks to his plan and again skips clay. The surface asks so much of him physically. And his decision was validated in 2017. If I’m him, I’m paying close attention to Nadal. If Nadal is healthy and blazing his usual trail through the dirt, I make like Billy Crystal and Forget Paris. If Nadal is vulnerable, I think seriously about playing Paris. Other than Nadal, who is well positioned to beat Federer in a best-of-five clay match these days?

A couple of years ago when asked how many more majors Federer would win, you said that if you had to pick between 0 and 1 you’d pick 1 but if forced to pick between 0 and 2 you’d pick 0. So, how many more majors does Federer win?
David B., London

• If I may approach the bench, when I made that prediction Federer had gone four years without a major. (Let’s pause for a moment and note that he wandered the Slam desert from Wimbledon 2012 until Australia 2017. Those 20 majors are all the more impressive given a nearly five-year dry spell.) I’m out of the prognostication game now but all bets—there we are, betting again—are off. Federer is playing as well as ever, strumming that backhand and playing through rough patches in a best-of-five format. And the rest of the field is either injured or immature. Provided full health, could Federer win two more majors this year alone? Why the hell not. He’s dropped one match COMBINED at the last four Slams he’s entered.

When you reference Hall of Fame credentials this has to be taken into account: one Slam from a player like Marin Cilic in this era is a greater accomplishment than during a period when the winner’s circle is constantly changing...
@stephenbirman

• Fair enough. We say this all the time, but over the past 13 years, only seven different men have won majors. This will have some interesting ramifications for the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of which…lots of questions and comments about last week’s induction announcement of Michael Stich and Helena Sukova. I admit to some confusion. Last year the Hall announced some changes in the voting process as well as a move, it seemed, toward more rigorous criteria.

That players would be guaranteed automatic qualification if they won FIVE majors or three majors and 13 weeks at No. 1 implied a certain threshold. Yet in 2018 we have two inductees—Helena Sukova and Michael Stich—who come nowhere near that mark. Sukova was terrific in doubles, but never won a singles major. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 but was never ranked No. 1. Both players max out the “credit to the sport” qualities. Stich won Olympic gold. Sukova was a doubles star who got to No. 4 in singles. But the larger point: a precedent has been set. And based on this, many players—Marin Cilic and Caroline Wozniacki come immediately to mind—appear to have just punched their ticket.

What's the current thinking on extended final sets by the folks who run the majors? Did the recent women's final change any minds? It was painful to watch Halep struggle, she had played measurably more than Wozniacki including a 15-13 and a 9-7 in the semis. I was almost hoping for an extended set and for one of them to be unable to finish so that the officials might be forced to address the issue. As it is there are pics all over the press of Halep on an IV in hospital after the match? It's just not fair to the winners of these marathons, what will it take?
Name misplaced, Washington, D.C.

• If nothing else, tennis is moving away from the “tweedy country club sport” reputation. Posting photos from the hospital after competition is straight out of MMA.

But, to your point, this is not a good look. You wonder how much of this was specific to the final and how much was cumulative. But if players could repair to the hotel bar—and not the hospital or the MRI machine—that would be nice.

Apart from Federer, such a disappointing men's tournament. Four of the world's five best players (Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka) injured, absent or playing in thier first match in eight months. Also, Next-Gen and Next-Next Gen were disappointing yet again. Fed played one player in top 18, two in top 35.
Mademan1414

• These tournaments always take on their own shapes and characteristics. Much as we missed Serena, I loved this women’s event. In the end—for all the chaos—we had one versus two and a deserving champ. We also had some terrific matches.

Truth serum: Federer salvaged the men’s event. There were some nice storylines (see: Hyeon Chung) and some promising performances. But it’s dispiriting that the casualty list rivals a World War I battlefield. Four of the Big Five were compromised by injury. And to the reader’s point, Zverev continues to disappoint at majors. Kyrgios remains a work in progress. Dimitrov—winner of the previous big-ticket event, the WTF in London—remains a lovely guy, who’s lovely to watch…and, one fears, lacks the je ne sais quoi of a champion.

Re: Sharapova. This article would have been more astute if Wertheim commented on Maria's subpar performances since she stopped (probably) taking a PED.
@felipenopollous

• I tread cautiously here. In part because I disagree with the sentiment. Sharapova is in her 30s. Even in her prime she won….what? One of ten majors she entered? Correlation does not equal causation. The notion that she won five majors because of meldonium verges on the absurd.

But it’s also naïve not to address this angle. When a player is sent to the timeout corner for doping suspensions, they bear a burden of proof—at least in the eyes of some—to demonstrate that past success did not owe to banned substances. This is not unique to Sharapova. It’s not unique to tennis. You see this all the time in MMA, for example. Fighters returning from doping suspensions and speak openly about feeling an added of pressure to win and squelch skepticism. I imagine Sharapova feels something similar.

On a happier note, she need only look to the men’s final for inspiration. In 2013, Marin Cilic faced a doping suspension. He had an alibi—who doesn’t?—but was suspended for nine months, which was knocked down to four months on appeal. Since then, he’s won a lot of matches. He’s gone about his business with professionalism and an amiable spirit. There’s been no other whiff of scandal. And his past indiscretion is hardly mentioned.

Which is to say: he has met this burden of proof. And Sharapova can as well.

Jon, as you know, a player who wins Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back is referenced as having won the “Sunshine Double.” My question is, if a player who wins the New York Open and Delray back-to-back, how will we reference that accomplishment? A few options:

1. The Double Bagel
2. The Bagel Double
3. I-95 Double
4. The Kibbutz Cup

We need to sort out a definitive one soon, so I can properly trademark it in time. Thoughts?
Michael

• Go home, everyone. You’re not doing better than “The Double Bagel.”

Kudos for noting that Roger Federer has now won 10% of all majors in the Open Era. With that said, shouldn't this serve as further validation that those players that have won "only" one Slam are deserving of Hall of Fame election? Considering so few men have been victorious at majors in comparison to the vastly larger number of those that have actually played on tour in the last 50 years, this HAS to put them in the top 1-5% of their profession. Call me crazy, but isn't this otherworldly stuff?
Jay Zavislak

• First of all, it’s otherworldly, but let’s do note that two players—Steffi Graf and Serena Williams—have an even higher percentage. And, yes, given that Federer (and Nadal and Djokovic after him) are such glory hogs (joking) it ought to force us to reassess the career of contemporaries who have won “only” one major. Flawed analogy: but if I am a British band who made a platinum album during the reign of the Beatles/Stones/Who/Zeppelin, I’m still doing well.

How on earth is it possible for Mladenovic to move up into the top 10? Has she won a match since the French Open? It just doesn’t make logical sense.
Bob Romero, Monee, Ill.

• She has won a match since the French Open. But, yes, this has been a brutal stretch. And perhaps her doubles success in Melbourne will catalyze her singles. How is she ranked so highly? Because those are the quirks of a 52-week rolling system. This is the place to plug the UTR, the ranking system based on algorithm that includes momentum, games surrendered, quality of opponent—and is far more accurate and predictive. (Full disclosure: Tennis Channel has a formal relationship.)

If Diego Schwartzman gets a mention, should also include Su-Wei Hsieh. Funky game took out a No. 3 seed, No. 26 seed and gave Kerber a run for her money. Amazed she's made $4.7 million in earnings. Good to see doubles players have a run in singles.
@renodrew

• Right, you are. And she/Hsieh merits mention regardless of Schwartzman.

Loved the 50 Parting Thoughts. I felt I had to chime in: I am afraid you are comparing essentially apples and oranges. NFL quarterbacks helping each other is quite different from tennis players helping each other. All other things being equal, it is much more plausible for a NFL QB to take another QB's position (simply because there are only 32 starters) when compared to Zverev and Federer. It is indeed harder for Zverev to replace Federer, than for RG3 to replace Brady.

So, its not quite the same. I felt like your audience would appreciate context, and how good Samaritan attitudes aren't always comparable, between both sports (Favre–Rodgers story provides another classic data point too). Let's not get too carried away with feel good stories here.
Deepak (Seattle)

• I agree that it’s apples and oranges. But—even with the rules protecting quarterbacks—I would push back here. RGIII was barely hanging onto his NFL job at the time. Contrast this with Zverev who a) competes directly with Federer b) beat him the previous time they played c) joins him in the top five. Seems to me Federer is much more easily supplanted than Brady was.

"Earlier this week Michael Stich—winner of one major—was inducted into the Hall of Fame." Stich's election was announced last week, but he won't be inducted until July.
John H

Touche.

I go to each Grand Slam’s website each year during the tournament. The Australian Open site was always a first class delight until this year. It was inexplicably terrible this year and I quit going to it during the tournament. A mystery since that tournament always does everything so well.
Franklyn

• I’m telling you, this was the mystery of the tournament. Hate to dwell on it but so many of you (not wrongly) complained that I want to be sure your sentiment is reflected. (And if this helps shame Tennis Australia into rectifying the problem, we all win.)

Shots, Miscellany

• Here’s a trailer for the Carillo HBO Real Sports piece:

A Boris Becker update.

Look who’s coming to Margaret Court Arena.

• Your 2019 ATP calendar.

Robby Ginepri is the new coach for captain Jim Courier’s Davis Cup squad.

• Roger Federer will play his first-ever match in the Bay Area on Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m. Federer will take on American tennis star Jack Sock at the SAP Center in San Jose in an exhibition match to support children’s education in Africa. Celebrity guests Bill Gates and Savannah Guthrie will also take to the court in a celebrity-pro doubles match. Tickets for Match for Africa 5 – Silicon Valley are available Friday, January 26, at 9 a.m. PST with net proceeds benefiting the Roger Federer Charitable Fund/Roger Federer Foundation.

Kia Motors extended its partnership with the Australian Open for another five years, running to 2023. “It has been an incredible partnership for Kia Motors, fully aligned to the youthful spirit of our brand,” Byung Yun Park, Executive Vice President at Kia Motors Corporation, said. “We are excited to be part of the world’s most thrilling Grand Slam tennis tournament for another five years. I’d like to thank everyone at Tennis Australia and everyone involved in organizing this incredible event for their hard work in providing unforgettable experiences, every year.”

Victor Lilov of Raleigh, N.C. made history on Sunday by winning the singles title at the prestigious Les Petits As 14-and-under junior tournament in Tarbes, France. He is the ninth player, male or female, to win both of those titles in the same year, and the fourth American, following CiCi Bellis (2013), Frances Tiafoe (2012) and Donald Young (2003), since the Teen Tennis event began in 1995.

• Tennis Canada and National Bank announced on Tuesday the launch of a new men’s professional tournament on the ATP Challenger Tour in Calgary. Sanctioned by the ATP, the tournament, which offers $75,000 U.S. in total prize money and hospitality to the players, will be held from October 13-21 at the OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre.

The Bay Club Company today announced the third annual Kunal Patel SF (KPSF) Open, running Monday, February 5 through Sunday, February 11 at Bay Club SF Tennis. The memorial tournament, which joined the ATP Challenger Tour in 2017, will host an international pool of players inside the top 100 rankings, including promising young American talent Michael Mmoh, Bjorn Fratangelo, and Bay Area native Mackenzie McDonald, and will be the largest professional tournament currently hosted inside the city of San Francisco.

HAVE A GOOD WEEK, EVERYONE!

<p><em>On the Beyond the Baseline Podcast, </em>Sports Illustrated<em> executive editor, Tennis Channel commentator and host Jon Wertheim takes fans between the lines with tennis commentary and exclusive interviews with the top players and newsmakers on the ATP and WTA tours.</em></p><p>On the latest edition of the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beyond-the-baseline/id1005210315?mt=2" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Beyond the Baseline Podcast" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Beyond the Baseline Podcast</a>, host Jon Wertheim talks with SI.com tennis editor Jamie Lisanti.</p><p><strong>• Never miss an episode of Beyond the Baseline. Click here to <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beyond-the-baseline/id1005210315?mt=2" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:subscribe" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">subscribe</a>.</strong></p><p>Just one day after the conclusion of the 2018 Australian Open, Wertheim and Lisanti discuss the first Grand Slam of the year and the implications the results will have on the coming weeks of tennis. Wertheim and Lisanti also talk about Roger Federer&#39;s 20th Grand Slam title; Caroline Wozniacki&#39;s breakthrough and first major title; Simona Halep and where she goes from here after another heartbreaking loss at a major; Rafael Nadal&#39;s withdrawal and injury and how it will affect his play and scheduling for the remainder of the season; the Australian Open app and website and how technology plays a big role in a major tournament&#39;s success; Madison Keys and her straight-set, 51-minute loss to Angelique Kerber; ?Tennys Sandgren&#39;s run in Melbourne, his recent tweets and apologies after his social media become a big headline during the final days of the tournament, and much more.</p><p>Listen below and <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beyond-the-baseline/id1005210315?mt=2" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:subscribe to the podcast on iTunes" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">subscribe to the podcast on iTunes</a> or <a href="http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/beyond-the-baseline" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:on Stitcher" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">on Stitcher</a>.??</p><p><em>Check back next week for another episode of Beyond the Baseline.</em></p>
Australian Open 2018 Review: Federer's 20th Major, Wozniacki's First Slam, Nadal's Injury and More

On the Beyond the Baseline Podcast, Sports Illustrated executive editor, Tennis Channel commentator and host Jon Wertheim takes fans between the lines with tennis commentary and exclusive interviews with the top players and newsmakers on the ATP and WTA tours.

On the latest edition of the Beyond the Baseline Podcast, host Jon Wertheim talks with SI.com tennis editor Jamie Lisanti.

• Never miss an episode of Beyond the Baseline. Click here to subscribe.

Just one day after the conclusion of the 2018 Australian Open, Wertheim and Lisanti discuss the first Grand Slam of the year and the implications the results will have on the coming weeks of tennis. Wertheim and Lisanti also talk about Roger Federer's 20th Grand Slam title; Caroline Wozniacki's breakthrough and first major title; Simona Halep and where she goes from here after another heartbreaking loss at a major; Rafael Nadal's withdrawal and injury and how it will affect his play and scheduling for the remainder of the season; the Australian Open app and website and how technology plays a big role in a major tournament's success; Madison Keys and her straight-set, 51-minute loss to Angelique Kerber; ?Tennys Sandgren's run in Melbourne, his recent tweets and apologies after his social media become a big headline during the final days of the tournament, and much more.

Listen below and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher.??

Check back next week for another episode of Beyond the Baseline.

Roger Federer is closing in on world number one Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings (AFP Photo/Saeed KHAN)
Roger Federer is closing in on world number one Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings
Roger Federer is closing in on world number one Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings (AFP Photo/Saeed KHAN)
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it's not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I've won three slams now in 12 months. I can't believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That'll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It's great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It's well out. Cilic challenges but he's not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he's moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he's swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We're going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer's serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It's 0-30. Marin! Go'orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It's two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He's on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed's serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic's fallible backhand lets him down again. It's 30-40. Break point. He's got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that's game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It's nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER'S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That's only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport's very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it's hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That's the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It's 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer's superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger's serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it's 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game's afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it's 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That's one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don't suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger's shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It's 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he's horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it's nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger's racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he'll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it's called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It's 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It's 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he's moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor's edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It's 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it's Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it's still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don't need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that's an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he's had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He's made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He's attacked the RF serve here, he's hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars "come on!" That's deuce, and he's wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he's got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it's merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he's not getting back into this set I shouldn't think, but he's getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It's 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that's game Cilic, and he's on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It's soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn't quite get the length right, the ball's there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that's another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He's just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he's right in the soup again here, it's 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he's whacked another regulation shot way out, and it's game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that's just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as "PC". I'm not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft "I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game." 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: "this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world." 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport "To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit." So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM "How?!" seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer's blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men's Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer's greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. "I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, 'Oh, that's cool'. "When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: 'I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know'. I was like, 'Sure, let me know if you want to hit'. "He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. "We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess." What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What's our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That&#39;s why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game flickered up and down all evening like a weak mobile signal. When he was nailing his first serves – something he only managed to do in the oddly numbered sets of his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory – he was almost unplayable, because he was winning 80 per cent of those points. But when his rhythm fell away – and he made only nine of 25 first serves in the fourth set – he found himself stretched uncomfortably around the court, as the tenacious Cilic imposed his extra height, reach and strength. The emotion gets to champion Roger Federer Credit: GETTY IMAGES The contest hinged on a few minutes at the beginning of the deciding set. Cilic held two break points in the opening game, and thus had the opportunity to move ahead on the scoreboard for the first time all night. But when he missed two makeable forehand returns, Federer held with a guttural roar of “Chum jetze” (Swiss-German for “Come on now”), and then proceeded to reel off five of the next six games for his sixth Australian Open title. Rod Laver Arena might often be seen as Novak Djokovic’s manor, but Federer now stands alongside Djokovic on that leaderboard. Another oddity of the evening was the Australian Open’s decision to close the stadium roof, on the grounds that the wet bulb globe temperature had climbed fractionally above the cut-off point of 32.5. This was probably a relief for the spectators, because the heat was even more intense than it had been on Saturday. That night, after the women’s final had been played with an open roof, runner-up Simona Halep became so dehydrated that she spent four hours on a drip in hospital. Actor Chris Hemsworth is glued to the action Credit: AP In tennis terms, though, the call had significant implications. Federer is the master of indoor conditions, having previously won 23 titles under a roof. And the relative coolness inside this air-conditioned bowl would have slowed down the flight of the ball, thus reducing the damage Cilic could cause with his 133mph serve and rasping groundstrokes. The most mild-mannered of men, Cilic could barely manage a protest in his post-match press conference. But he did point out that it was his first match in the tournament under a roof. “I have to say that decision, could it have been different?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I guess so. I think that it was just a little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected, from having outside 38 [degrees] to like 23 or 24. That was very, very difficult.” Roger Federer serves to Marin Cilic Credit: AFP Federer saw the debate differently, suggesting that the high temperatures might have slowed down “a bigger guy like Marin” before making any impact on his own pristine footwork. “Of course, I backed myself in sort of indoor conditions,” he explained. “This [indoors] is where my first success ever came. But I didn&#39;t mind the heat, to be honest. At the end, it&#39;s not my decision.” Twenty years from now, the tennis history books are unlikely to address the roof issue when they list Federer’s mind-boggling tally of honours. This was his 96th title in all, and it could yet carry him back to the top of the world rankings for the fourth time. Rafael Nadal will need to reach at least the semi-finals in Acapulco, in a month’s time, to prevent Federer from dislodging him. How Federer pulled away from his rivals in slam races The weekend’s finals have underlined the diverging paths followed by the two tours. Women’s tennis is diversifying, having welcomed three new major champions since Serena Williams announced her pregnancy last spring. Men’s tennis, by contrast, is a duopoly. Federer and Nadal have now won the last five grand slams in an alternating “one on, one off” pattern. Given their status as overwhelming favourites for Wimbledon and Roland Garros respectively, few would bet against them extending that sequence over the next half-year. The last question directed at Federer in the press conference, almost inevitably, related to how long he plans to keep on playing. “I have no idea,” replied the world’s most athletic 36 year-old. “I&#39;ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can&#39;t believe it myself. I have just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. If I’m careful in my planning, that will dictate how successful I will be.” 11:59AM That&#39;ll do it for us Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam title and is the 2018 Australian Open Champion. Congratulations to him. Simon Briggs will have his sport imminently. From me, goodbye. 11:55AM Roger Federer Lifts to the trophy to wild applause. Credit: Eurosport So happy. It is a long day. You are waiting all day. You think about the match all day. Winning is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for us. Marin, keep doing what you are doing. I wish you all the best. You will achieve more. We arrived in Perth last year and are still here! Thanks to everyone here for making it so special. You have some of the best volunteers in the world, I realised that at the Sydney 2012 Olympics. It&#39;s great to see Rocket Rod Laver again, and thanks also to Ashley Cooper and the other legends. You guys [fans] fill the stadiums and you make me nervous! Thanks for everything. The great man is really emotional now, the tears coming. Credit: Eurosport 11:53AM Marin Cilic First of all big congratulations to Roger and his team, it is amazing what you do year after year. All the best for 2018. Amazing journey for me. Could have been the best two weeks of my life, but Roger played a great fifth set. Want to thank my team. Hopefully we are going to be reaching many GS finals and lifting these trophies in the future. Honour to play here and I hope to be doing so for years to come. Thank you for your support and my fans. Credit: Eurosport 11:46AM Ashley Cooper Himself a back to back Aussie Open champion, in 1957 and 1958, will present the trophy. First, some blazers, suits and politicos get their oar in. Credit: Eurosport Far, far too much of this. First chappie above, who is the Governor or whatever of Melbourne. And then Jayne Hrdlicka, top banana of the Aussie tennis set-up, with a very long list of thank yous to various corporates. 11:41AM Report and reaction to follow. 11:40AM Roger Federer is the Australian Open Champion He wins three sets to two over a brave, and sometimes terrific, Marin Cilic. Roger was able to raise his game in the last half an hour when it really counted. In the fifth set, Federer comprehensively out-served his opponent, and he was able to ride that service to the match. ��BACK TO BACK ��@rogerfederer captures his 20th Grand Slam title defeating Marin #Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.#AusOpen#RF20pic.twitter.com/ljJKFnnr8g— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 11:37AM RF serves for set. Roger wins the first two points. Steadies himself. 30-0. Some idiot calls out just as he is tossing the ball. Tennis fans, eh? Wins the point. Roger Federer has three championship points.... A kicking second serve, unreturned. They check it.... it kissed the line. The serve is good, Roger Federer is the Australian Open champion! Fifth set stats Credit: Eurosport 11:36AM Cilic 1 Federer* 5 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic in the soup again at 0-30. At 15-30, he goes hard and bold at a backhand across the court. It&#39;s well out. Cilic challenges but he&#39;s not going to get what he wants. It is 15-40, and it feels like Marin Cilic has run his race here, regardless of whether he can save this game. He races forward and has a chance, but tightens up. Into the net. Another break The crowd, strongly pro Roger, roar their delight. Their man is a game away. 11:30AM Cilic* 1 Federer 4 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer has managed to raise his level yet again. The serving in this game is majestic. 66 seconds later, he&#39;s moved one more game nearer to his 20th Slam. 11:29AM Cilic 1 Federer* 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Federer is grousing at the chair umpire about line calls. Cilic is on the board in this set. 11:25AM Cilic* 0 Federer 3 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Cilic fighting hard though. Deuce on the Fed serve. Booming serve down the middle, unreturned. Roger has the handbrake well and truly off now, he&#39;s swinging hard and he is pumped. Cilic wild return and Federer pumps his fist as he chalks up another game. 11:21AM Cilic 0 Federer* 2 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets Big moment at 15-30, and a big serve to match from MC. .@rogerfederer breaks! A tough Cilic double fault opens the door and he takes full advantage. 2-0 in the decider.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/Bty0pTBTT0— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 Bad line call now at deuce. Fed challenges, successfully. Cilic faces a break point.... he backs away from the return, he drills the ball into the net, and that is a break. 11:12AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* denotes next server) 2-2 in sets It is 40-40. Cilic is dominating him. RF groundstroke into the net. Break point. Saved. Federer being pushed to the limit here. Third deuce. He wins the point. Cilic giving everything. What has the greatest got left under this gutsy assault from the big, talented younger man? Federer eventually holds his serve under huge pressure. Great match this now, both players showing terrific bottle. 11:05AM Cilic wins fourth set 6-3 Cilic wraps up the service game to love! Wonderful stuff from Marin Cilic. We&#39;re going to five sets. 36% on first serve for Roger that set. Can he turn it around?#AusOpenhttps://t.co/R2Wf4xCj8O— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 A guy who knows where his towel is: Federer&#39;s serve went missing in the fourth set Credit: AP 11:02AM Cilic* 5 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Well, well. The Fed serve not at its best. It&#39;s 0-30. Marin! Go&#39;orn son. Roger wins the next point, but hits wild on the one after. It&#39;s two break points for Marin Cilic at 15-40. He&#39;s on top in the rally, but he punches his backhand long. Fed&#39;s serve at 30-40 is a yard too long. MC attacks the second serve crosscourt but hits it out. Deuce. RF wins the next point. The crowd think he has wrapped the game up with an ace but there was a net cord. Rally of the match at A-40, both players with brilliant groundstrokes. Cilic just edges it. Well played. RF with his 20th ace, and on his second serve as well. But Cilic ensures another deuce with a backhand crosscourt. Late, half-hearted call as Roger goes deep. Challenge from Federer but the call was good. Another break point for Cilic. He is on top in this rally, he is pushing Federer back and back, Roger is scrambling.... and Cilic has broken his serve again! Realise Federer is the world’s most popular tennis player and all that but be nice if Cilic got more than a polite, concerned round of applause for taking it into a 5th set.— David Law (@DavidLawTennis) January 28, 2018 10:54AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets But Cilic&#39;s fallible backhand lets him down again. It&#39;s 30-40. Break point. He&#39;s got Roger scurrying now.... overhead chance from Cilic. Nails it for deuce. Gets out of the hole with this fourth ace of the set - Fed yet to ace one in this set and that&#39;s game MC. 10:49AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets At 0-30, Federer suddenly idles and serves out wide. It&#39;s nowhere near in. Cilic has three break points. Federer fails dismally with a forehand and FEDERER&#39;S SERVE IS BROKEN! What a peculiar game tennis is. Federer was in command but out of the blue, he went flat, the serve totally deserted him and Cilic is back on terms in this fourth set. That&#39;s only the fifth time in the tournament that RF has been broken. 10:47AM Cilic 2 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Excellent factoid from Eurosport&#39;s very decent commentary: at six six, Cilic is the joint-tallest man to win a slam :the other party-sized major winner is JMDP. Perhaps, the commentators speculate, that is why it&#39;s hard for him to get down for some of these low backhands. Anyhow. He holds. 10:43AM Cilic* 1 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets That&#39;s the drop shot he was looking for! Backhand sliced effort, a thing of beauty. and Cilic is 20 feet away as the ball dies in valour and with honour. Game to love. 10:40AM Cilic 1 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic serving at 30-30. (But 42 to 28 in unforced errors in the match s another telling pair of numbers). Terrible time for a double fault, Marin. Chats with Cilic ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9uCEUwGmSc— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 It&#39;s 30-40 and they might as well start engraving that pot if he folds here. Cilic is game, though, and he bludgeons a forehand down the line, real guts and class. Serves down the middle for an ace. Secures it. Cilic showed his heart in that game. 10:36AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Cilic yelling at himself as Federer, who is now playing at or near his top level, wraps this service game up to love. 10:35AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 2-1 in sets Writing is on the wall now as Marin Cilic is broken in the opening game of the fourth set. Pearler of a FH volley the pick of the litter. Touch/10?#AusOpen@RogerFedererpic.twitter.com/01MxRCMBTr— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:29AM Federer leads 2-1 After wining the third set 6-3. Hmm. Not really sure what more Cilic can do here. Well, actually, I am about one thing: serve better. His first serve has gone walkabout, only 50% finding the target in that third set. Back in front: Federer&#39;s superior serving gave him the third set Credit: Getty 10:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 6 (* next server) one set all nothing doing on the first three points. Body serve at 30-0 foxes MC. Wide ace, Cilic is not even in the same postcode, and that is game and the second set to Roger Federer. Sealed with an ace! ��@RogerFederer goes 2️⃣ sets to 1️⃣ up.#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/n4qX9qxoH8— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 10:27AM Cilic 3 Federer* 5 (* next server) one set all Well, Cilic could not do more than that: holds his service to love. Now he must break Roger&#39;s serve. 10:24AM Cilic* 2 Federer 5 (* next server) one set all Federer, serving at 15-15, produces perhaps the shot of the match so far. Running, he whips a forehand from ankle height onto the back corner. Nobody else can do that. Watch him whip... ��#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/A3f5e8aiea— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2018 At 15-40, he tries a drop shot, but fails. He has failed with that shot a coupla times in the match actually. Soon wraps up the service game, it&#39;s 5-2 and Cilic is right back in the long grass. 10:19AM Cilic 2 Federer* 4 (* next server) one set all But now the game&#39;s afoot! Cilic is under pressure on his serve, it&#39;s 0-30. Federer wins the next one as well. Cilic serving at 0-40 facing three break points. Needs the second serve. Fed puts a low-pressure backhand into the net. That&#39;s one BP saved. Where is the MC first serve, though? This is a mile out. Roger gets the second set back at his feet, Cilic rocks back and half volleys, but he puts it well out. Break to Federer. 10:18AM Cilic* 2 Federer 3 (* next server) one set all Rog takes that service game too. 10:13AM Cilic 2 Federer* 2 (* next server) one set all Two perfunctory service games pass without either man able to cause the server issues. * Impossibly Beautiful Couple as identified below are Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. They are married. Chris plays Thor in the superhero films. Elsa plays Elena Neves in the Fast And The Furious film franchise. Neither of them is very good at catching, but I don&#39;t suppose that is too worrying for them. 10:06AM Cilic 1 Federer* 1 (* next server) one set all At 15-30, there are warning signs for Cilic but Roger&#39;s shot selection is just awry and Cilic is able to secure the point. Wraps the game up with some authority. I think he might just have his nose in front here, Marin. 10:04AM Cilic* 0 Federer 1 (* next server) one set all Fed holds. 10:01AM Cilic wins tie break by 7-5 and it is one set each That is a terrific effort from Marin Cilic, who had Fed under pressure throughout that set. Fightback: Marin Cilic was blown away in the first set but hit back to take the second Credit: AFP 10:00AM Tie Break in second set Cilic serves. Holds as Fed floats the ball long. 1-0 Cilic. Two net cords on the RF first serve. Ace. 1-1. RF serves wide, another ace. (Something like 83% of points won on first serve by Rf) Fed. 2-1. Cilic serves. Long rally, Cilic beefy forehands, Roger defends with the BH slices. Cilic to the net for a winner. 2-2 But now Fed produces a magnificent backhand from the back left corer, that is a brutal shot and Cilic suffers a mini break. 3-2 Fed. But now a blistering service return from Cilic, mini break back. It&#39;s 3-3 and they change ends. Well done Marin! Attacks the second serve but he&#39;s horrid early on it, MC hits well wide. 4-3 to Fed. MC well on top in this point, RF hits forehand into the net. Poor by his own ridicustandards. 4-4. Federer cannot return the serve at 4-4 and challenges but it&#39;s nowhere near. 5-4 Cilic. Cilic mini-breaks Federer with a thunderous forehand winner! 6-4 Cilic and he has two set points. Fed ace. 6-5 Cilic serving at 6-5 for the second set.............. Federer scurrying, sends it high into the air.... Cilic nails the overhead this time and that is game and second set to Cilic 9:51AM Cilic* 6 Federer 6 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Federer shuts down that hope pronto. Game to love. The ball flies off Roger&#39;s racket frame and is very nearly caught by Impossibly Beautiful Couple here. Credit: eurosport 9:48AM Cilic 6 Federer* 5 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Putting that disappointment behind him, Cilic races to 40-0. This match is evenly contested now, at the least. In fact, Cilic is perhaps the one asking the questions. Wraps up the service game and he has a chance to interrogate the Federer serve again. Worst case scenario, he&#39;ll get a tiebreak, and then who knows? 9:43AM Cilic* 5 Federer 5 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets MC wins the first point but cannot get the second one back. Fed hits into the net. 15-30. Marin! This is the moment. And more so when Fed needs the second serve. Federer goes down the line, it&#39;s called in. Marin challenges. 30-30. A few prats in the crowd making noise during the serve. Federer double faults! His third of the match. break and set point to Cilic. It&#39;s 30-40. Marin is well in the point, has a chance, but puts the double handed BH into the net. 129 mph serve from Roger. A-40. Well played rally here from Roger, Cilic hits wide and Federer has got out of a big hole there. 9:39AM Cilic 5 Federer* 4 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Big moment again for Marin. It&#39;s 30-40 on his serve. Gutsy serve! Right down the centre line on his second serve, he&#39;s moved ahead on aces, and what a way to save break point. That was on a razor&#39;s edge. Holds the serve and, at 5-4, Roger will serve to stay in this second set. 9:35AM Cilic* 4 Federer 4 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Hint of a sniff for Marin here. It&#39;s 40-30 to Fed, and the two men stand toe to toe slugging massive forehands at each other. But it&#39;s Marin who misses first, going hard but long. Game Federer, and it&#39;s still even steven in this set. 9:32AM Cilic 4 Federer* 3 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Seventh ace gives MC the service game. Things going reasonably well in this set for Marin. 9:28AM Cilic* 3 Federer 3 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets That Federer service game took 63 seconds. So you don&#39;t need me to tell you that it was a bit of a one-sided affair. 9:25AM Cilic 3 Federer* 2 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Cilic is grizzling about his racket, that&#39;s an understandable reaction but not a good sign. At 30-30, he produces a weak serve and Federer takes it RIDICULOUSLY early to cream a winner. 30-40 and this is a massive serve for Cilic. Unreturned! Well done Marin. At 40-40, he serves wide and quick and true. Roger lunges but cannot return. Another ace seals the deal. Cilic has won five of the last nine games. But he&#39;s had to work harder to hold the serve than RF. Where do we go from here? 9:21AM Cilic* 2 Federer 2 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Fed holds serve. 9:10AM Cilic 2 Federer* 1 (* next server) Fed leads 1-0 in sets Glorious half-volley from Federer lands perfectly on the back corner. Freek. At 30-15, Cilic needs his second serve. Federer, although on top in the rally, hits his forehand long. One or two FH errors from RF. They trade points. 40-30. Cilic badly needs to get out of this intact. Federer barely gets his return back, but Cilic drains a simple ball into the net to give us deuce. Marin now drives a regulation backhand into the net, and it is break point. Very wide. Called out, Cilic challenges and it has flicked the line. This chap in the crowd cannot believe it. Credit: Eurosport Cilic cannot get out of this game, though. He&#39;s made his 16th unforced error. And now another one. Now our fourth deuce of the game. Sends RF the wrong way for a three shot point. Pumps his fist. Come on son. Federer up on the toes for a glorious backhand winner. Fifth deuce. Roger hits a line drive backhand into the net, Cilic wins the game and thank goodness for him that he did, I think that might have broken his spirit had he lost that. Game 8 minutes 50 seconds old now as MC serves at A-40. 9:07AM Cilic* 1 Federer 1 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Well played Marin! He&#39;s attacked the RF serve here, he&#39;s hitting his groundstrokes well, and he is in with a real chance at 15-40. Fed aces the next one. Needs his second serve at 30-40 but draws on his class and experience with a cool, brave drive. Roars &quot;come on!&quot; That&#39;s deuce, and he&#39;s wrapped the game up in a trice. But, again, something for Cilic to build on. 9:04AM Cilic 1 Federer* 0 (* next server) Fed 1-0 in sets Cilic races to 40-0, he&#39;s got the serve working pretty well now. Roger briefly threatens at 40-15 but Cilic gets out of this okay. Green shoots of recovery and all that. 9:01AM Roger Federer wins the first set 6-2 Totally one-sided, not a lot more to say about that other than Cilic at least shared the last four games of it 2-2. Something to build on, I guess? The usual magnificence: Roger Federer came out of the blocks fast in the final against Marin Cilic Credit: Reuters 9:00AM Cilic* 2 Federer 6 (* next server) Cilic with his best shot so far, a crosshand passing effort that kisses the line. Nice. But it&#39;s merely an interlude in an otherwise emphatic service game from Federer, who wraps it up with the minimum of ceremony to win the first set 6-2. In 24 minutes. 8:59AM Cilic 2 Federer* 5 (* next server) Marin gradually getting... well, he&#39;s not getting back into this set I shouldn&#39;t think, but he&#39;s getting a bit of confidence back. Wins this service game. 8:55AM Cilic* 1 Federer 5 (* next server) Roger purrs through another service game, not out of second gear yet. 8:51AM Cilic 1 Federer* 4 (* next server) It&#39;s 11-1 on the unforced errors as Cilic loses a point he was dominating by hitting into the net. 30-30. This set has surely gone, but he does not want to be bagled, does he? Marin comes in nicely to the net. 40-30. Roger cannot return the serve, that&#39;s game Cilic, and he&#39;s on the board. He only won four points in the first four games, but has won four more here. Eight points! 8:48AM Match up Federer features in his 30th grand slam final; Cilic his third Credit: Getty Images 8:47AM Cilic* 0 Federer 4 (* next server) It&#39;s soon 40-0 in this one too. Nice shot now from Marin! Federer doesn&#39;t quite get the length right, the ball&#39;s there for the taking, and MC punches home a winner. But he hits the next point into the net and that&#39;s another game to Fed. 8:44AM Cilic 0 Federer* 3 (* next server) Poor Cilic is all over the shop. He&#39;s just hoofed a simple forehand a MILE long. He runs to the chairs to change his racket. Marin Cilic changes his racket Credit: Eurosport But he&#39;s right in the soup again here, it&#39;s 0-40 before you know it. Nerves? Playing the legend not the ball? Distracted by the roof thing? Worried about his kit? Hard to say, but what is clear is that his groundstrokes are not functioning, he&#39;s whacked another regulation shot way out, and it&#39;s game to 15. Cilic broken for the second time 8:41AM Cilic* 0 Federer 2 (* next server) Roger holds that service game with the minimum of fuss. 8:36AM Cilic 0 Federer* 1 (* next server) Cilic bounces the ball ten, 15 times before serving. He wins the first two points, loses the next to. First mini pressure point for Marin at 30-30. First serve is out. Second serve sits up and begs, Roger cuffs it home for a backhand winner. Too easy. Needs the second serve again at 30-40, he hits it to the Fed backhand, and it is called out. Cilic reviews. A lifeline! The call is overturned on review. But soon Cilic has whacked an overhead into the net, poor technique, that&#39;s just nerves I guess, and Cilic has been broken in the first game 8:34AM Here comes Marin Cilic to serve Not sure he has quite got time to read this, but if you do... Charlie Eccleshare: How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? 8:34AM Eurosport tennis commentator Simon Reed has just described concerns about heat and its impact on the players as &quot;PC&quot;. I&#39;m not sure that term means what you think it means. 8:31AM Annabel Croft &quot;I am very disappointed that the roof is open. Cilic said in the summer that he has looked at his whole game.&quot; 8:31AM Marin Cilic has won the toss and elected to have a bowl to serve. 8:23AM They have put the roof on Roof is on in Melbourne Credit: Eurosport Closed because of the heat. Greg R: &quot;this is a mistake from the organisers. It is an outdoor tournament. It makes it a less interesting final. Roger is the best indoor player in the world.&quot; 8:18AM Hourly rates Interesting that Federer has spent less time on court getting to the Australian Open final than Halep or Wozniacki did in getting to the same stage. He should probably get less prize money— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 27, 2018 8:16AM Right then It is hot all as all hell there. 8:14AM Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Bring news that the authorities are considering closing the roof because it is so hot. Roof or dare? Pat Cash and Catherine Whitaker Credit: Eurosport &quot;To give Cilic a chance he wants it hot, he wants it open, he wants a bit of freeze. Federer is less used to this heat, to give Cilic a bit of hope he needs to have the roof open. He needs the wind blowing, get a few variables, maybe put Federer off a bit.&quot; So having the roof off is thought to be a bit of a leveller by the experts. We&#39;ll keep you updated as to what happens with that. 8:14AM Cape Fear! And not the Bobby D version, neither What an excellent email to start the day. John Mc Enerney, you have the floor: Morning Alan, this time last year I described the final as Cape Fear Federer (Peck) & Nadal (Mitchum) but this time I can’t find a cinematic comparison. Cilic has the firepower to unsettle Roger who has all the tricks in the book & more. Roger usually has a hiccup during the hard court Slams always against big hitters. Is today Cilic’s day or will The Master leave us all wide eyed again at his supreme brilliance? My heart say Fed & my head too in 4. As my dad used to say “Mother of Sweet Lantern Jeepers this Swiss buck is something else. How in God’s name does he do it?”. I think God is thinking the same. Enjoy it. John 8:13AM Our excellent tennis podcast is here 8:13AM &quot;How?!&quot; seems to be the question of the morning. How does he keep doing it? How do you beat him? How long can he go on? Marin Cilic will become the latest man to try at about half eight this morning. Best of luck to him, but all the experts seem to think that he is making up the numbers against the greatest tennis player ever to lift a racket. 8:13AM How do Roger and Marin match up? Australian Open final | Key stats 8:12AM How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? asks our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, and no sooner has he posed that question than he is answering it, and in splendid fashion, too. Many ticket holders will be in ecstasy at the prospect of watching Roger Federer, arguably the world’s most popular athlete, in his 30th grand slam final. But will they witness a contest worthy of the occasion? That seems less certain, given the way Federer has tap-danced through the fortnight, waving his top hat and twirling his cane, while opponent after opponent settled for a supporting role. In an echo of last year’s Wimbledon, Federer has reached the final without dropping a set. He has spent 10hrs 50mins on court to date, less than either of Saturday’s women’s finalists – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – at the same stage. Now Federer will take on Marin Cilic, the man he beat on Centre Court in July, for his sixth Australian Open. At least Cilic has shown no signs of physical infirmity to date, whereas last summer he was reduced to tears by a blister on his right foot – a similar problem to the one that forced Hyeon Chung to retire in the middle of Friday’s semi-final. Read: How will Marin Cilic fare against Roger Federer&#39;s blend of power and poise, old-world flair and modern gear? 8:12AM Good morning Tennis fans, bright and early, hope you are having a pleasant weekend. As ever on Telegraph Sport, we have all manner of live coverage throughout the day, but the first order of business is the Men&#39;s Final of the Australian Open, which will start at 8.30am UK time. 8:12AM Our preview What is it? The Australian open final between 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. When is it? Sunday January 28. What time is it? The players will be on court at 08.30 GMT, which is 19.30 Melbourne time. What TV channel is it on? British Eurosport have exclusive rights to the Australian Open, and will be showing the match. Coverage begins at 8am. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and follow all the action with our live blog. How on earth do you beat Roger Federer? How have they been playing so far? Federer has cruised to the final without dropping a set. Cilic came through a tough four-setter against Pablo Carenno Busta in the fourth round and defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters when the Spaniard retired in the fifth set. In total, Cilic has spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much as Federer. The key stats from the tournament so far are below: Federer Aces: 71 Double faults: 13 First serves in: 296 of 481 (62%) Points won on first serve: 243 of 296 (82%) Points won on second serve: 113 of 185 (61%) Break points saved: 9 of 13 (69%) Break points won: 23 of 61 (38%) Roger Federer&#39;s greatest ever shots Service games won: 79 of 83 (95%) Forehand winners: 79 Backhand winners: 33 Unforced errors: 157 Net points won: 125 of 173 (72%) Serve and volley won: 34 of 44 (77%) Cilic Aces: 107 Double faults: 18 First serves in: 408 of 642 (64%) Points won on first serve: 335 of 408 (82%) Points won on second serve: 128 of 234 (55%) Break points saved: 20 of 29 (69%) Break points won: 27 of 73 (37%) Cilic beat Britain&#39;s Kyle Edmund in the semi-final Credit: Getty Images Service games won: 97 of 106 (92%) Forehand winners: 125 Backhand winners: 42 Unforced errors: 243 Net points won: 130 of 164 (79%) Serve and volley won: 10 of 15 (67%) Australian Open final | Key stats What are they saying? Federer revealed that he and Cilic got together for a hit and a catch-up in the Maldives when they were both coincidentally on holiday there at the same time last year. &quot;I was there first and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, &#39;Oh, that&#39;s cool&#39;. &quot;When he arrived, I didn&#39;t want to bother him. He didn&#39;t want to bother me. After two days, he wrote to me: &#39;I&#39;m here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know&#39;. I was like, &#39;Sure, let me know if you want to hit&#39;. &quot;He was eager to hit because it&#39;s good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, I met his fiancee. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. &quot;We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess.&quot; What are the odds? Federer - 1/4 Cilic - 10/3 Who do you think will win? Have your say below. What&#39;s our prediction? Federer to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer withstands Marin Cilic comeback to win Australian Open and 20th grand slam
At first sight, the headline on the front page of the local Melbourne paper seemed faintly daft. “Roger Federer is on the brink of tennis immortality today,” it read, “as he fights for his 20th major title.” What, you mean he isn’t there already? But numbers have real meaning in sport, and it turns out that they are important to Federer as well. Perhaps the most surprising thing about his five-set victory over Marin Cilic was how emotional he was afterwards, more emotional than we have ever seen him after a win. After a choked-up acceptance speech that ended with tears streaming down his face, he explained that the 20-slam barrier had been weighing on his mind all day. “During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20,” Federer told the Swiss TV station SRF. “I was nervous the whole day, I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech.” Those nerves may explain why this was not one of the greatest Federer performances, despite a wonderful start in which he ran away with the first four games in just 12 minutes. He was showing no mercy at this stage, not even to the man he shared cocktails with in November, when he and Cilic found themselves holidaying on the same luxury island in the Maldives. Curiously, though, Federer’s game f