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Federer fights off Cilic to win sixth Australian Open

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

MELBOURNE - Roger Federer survived a second set 'freeze' and an onslaught from Croatia's Marin Cilic to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The Swiss maestro wobbled at times in the face of some fierce resistance before winning 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.

With the stadium roof closed to keep out the withering Melbourne heat, the 36-year-old grabbed the first set in 24 minutes as a 20th grand slam title looked a formality.

But Cilic, who suffered a nightmare in last year's Wimbledon final against Federer when blisters wrecked his chances, was not going to let his first Australian Open final slide by.

At times it seemed he was taking on Federer and crowd but when he reeled off five consecutive games to extend the champion into a deciding set, the match hung in the balance.

Federer recovered his mojo after saving two break points at the start of the fifth and was roared home to victory.

Despite all his titles and accolades, Federer was overcome with emotion during his victory speech.

"The fairytale continues for us, for me, it's incredible," Federer, who equalled Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson's Australian Open haul, said on court as wife Mirka and Australian great Rod Laver recorded to the moment with their mobile phones.

"I got off to a flyer but I froze in the tiebreak and lost that second set and lost control of the match.

"I got a bit lucky tonight I think."

After enduring a five-year grand slam drought that had many people writing him off, Federer has enjoyed a glorious renaissance over the past 12 months by winning three of the past five majors.

"Getting number six here and number 20 overall, it's just a very special moment," he said.

Cilic, who will rise to a career-high three in the rankings, won four points in the first four games, but despite a shamelessly pro-Federer crowd, he stuck to his guns.

"It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life," Cilic said.

"I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match."

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