Australian Open 2018: Tearful Roger Federer reveals he couldn't sleep prior to winning 20th Grand Slam

Federer also rejected that the decision to play indoors gave him an advantage

Paul Newman
Melbourne
Sunday 28 January 2018 16:57
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Roger Federer reacts to winning the Australian Open, his 20th Grand Slam title

Roger Federer does not believe that the decision to play Sunday’s Australian Open final under a closed roof in Rod Laver Arena because of the sweltering conditions was a contributory factor in his 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic.

Federer has long been regarded as the world’s best indoor player, while Cilic said he had struggled to adjust to the cooler temperature under the roof.

“I wasn't sure if it was good for me or not, to play under the roof,” Federer said. “Of course, I backed myself in indoor conditions. This is where my first success ever came. I do think back that usually when I play indoors, it's good for me.

“But I didn't mind the heat, to be honest. I thought maybe for a bigger guy like Marin, maybe it was also going to slow him down faster throughout the match.

“At the end, it's not my decision. They kept me posted along the way. I was surprised to hear they had the heat rule in place for a night match. I never heard that before. When I arrived at the courts, I was totally ready to play outdoors, but they told me they were thinking it would probably be indoors.”

Cilic said he had found it difficult to adjust to playing indoors, especially at the beginning of the match. “Throughout the tournament I had played all my matches outdoors and I had been preparing for a hot day, 38 degrees,” he said. “Then I had to play my first match with the roof closed in the final.”

He added: “With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected. That was very, very difficult, especially to be in that kind of situation in the final.”

Asked why he had been nervous going into the final, Federer said that he had not slept well after his semi-final victory over Hyeon Chung.

“All of the next day I was already thinking about how I should play Marin, how cool would it be to win 20, but no, don't think of it, but how horrible would it be to lose it. I had it for over 36 hours, to be honest. It was a lot.”

He also said that playing the final in the evening meant that he had had all day to think about it. “At Wimbledon, you get it out there and get it done,” he said. “Here it’s a long day.”

It was Federer's sixth Australian Open title

Federer thought the reason why he had been so emotional after the final was because he had got to the final “very quickly” with the retirement of Chung in the semi-finals and his straight-sets victories in the previous five rounds.

“I had a lot of emotions left in me because I didn't have to go to the extremes like I did last year against Kei Nishikori and Stan [Wawrinka],” Federer said, referring to the fact that he played three five-set matches en route to the title 12 months ago.

He added: “When I started thinking about what I was going to say [at the presentation ceremony], every subject I touched was actually very meaningful and very emotional: thanking my team, congratulating Marin, thanking the people, thanking the tournament.

“I hoped over time in the speech that I would start to relax a little bit, but I couldn't. It was what it was. I wish it wasn't so sometimes. At the same time I'm happy I can show emotions and share it with the people. If I got emotional, it's because it was a full crowd again. No people in the stadium wouldn't make me emotional, I'll tell you that.”

Cilic said he had been pleased with his performance after his slow start. “I was hitting the ball great,” he said. “I was just playing phenomenal. The first game of the fifth set was more or less crucial at the end with those break points that I didn't convert.”

It was the first time Federer has been taken to five sets this tournament 

Federer was asked what his mindset had been going into the fifth set, having lost five games in a row. “I was really just trying to break his momentum,” he said. “I tried to serve well, to get a bit lucky.

“I was able to get that first game, at least get on the board. From then on, maybe momentum shifts a little bit, and it's exactly what happened. I think experience helped me there a little bit. I also felt like I needed a little bit of luck tonight.”

Cilic will rise to No 3 in the world rankings on Monday. “My ultimate goal is to reach No 1,” he said. “That's what I'm working for. Even in these last one or two years, the progress that I’ve made is big. Last year I improved a lot in different areas. Now in these last couple months, I’ve improved even more. That gives me big confidence.”

He added: “I’ve played great tennis over these two weeks. Looking at my own game, I think I’ve improved a lot. I'm playing great tennis. That's really exciting for me for 2018.”

Federer said he had “no idea” how long he could continue playing at the highest level. “I've won three Slams now in 12 months,” he said. “I can't believe it myself. I’ve just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. Then I don't think age is an issue, per se. It's just a number.

“But I need to be very careful in my planning, really decide beforehand what are my goals, what are my priorities. I think that's what's going to dictate how successful I will be.”

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