Roger Federer became the first male tennis player to win 20 major titles with a thrilling, topsy-turvy 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Marin Cilic at the Australian Open.
Federer joins Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22) as the only player to win 20 or more major singles titles.
Federer moves again farther away from his major rival Nadal, who won his 16th major singles title at the U.S. Open last September, in the men’s major haul.
It also marked his sixth Australian Open, tying him with Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson for the most ever among men.
“He continues to exhaust superlatives,” said Chris Fowler on ESPN of Federer and his greatness.
Federer arrived in Melbourne at the start of 2017 after an extended injury layoff and on a Grand Slam title drought that dated back to 2012 at Wimbledon. Having successfully defended his Australian title, Federer has now won three of the past five majors in a stunning career resurgence.
“I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable,” Federer said in the trophy presentation. “Of course, winning is an absolute dream come true — the fairytale continues for us, for me, after the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”
At the age of 36 years, 173 days, Federer became the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era after Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at 37.
Federer is the only men’s player to win three different major titles at least five times (Wimbledon, Australian, U.S. Open) and two different major titles at least six times (Wimbledon, Australian Open). His win concluded a successful defense of the dramatic Australian Open final he won last year as a perceived washed-up No. 17-seed recovering from a knee injury who was down 1-3 in the fifth set against chief rival Rafael Nadal. It marked the first time he successfully defended a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open – a decade ago!
As documented in the “Days of Roger Federer” book by Randy Walker, the final against Cilic came exactly 11 years to the day when Federer broke into the double-digits in his Grand Slam tournament title haul with his 10th major title with a straight-set win over Fernando Gonzalez in Melbourne. It took Federer three-and-a-half years to win his first 10 majors and 11 years to win his second 10 majors.