Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018 AUS OPEN: Federer Wins 20th(!) Major Title, Record 6th #AusOpen

As I predicted, Roger Federer won his record 20th major singles title, defeating Marin Cilic 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1 in the Australian Open final. Federer becomes the first man to reach 20 major singles title, following Margaret Court (24), Serena Williams (23) and Steffi Graf (22). His win also means he is in a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson for the most Australian Open titles (6). He has won 20 major titles while playing in 30 major finals (both are records). 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Open Era tennis and 200 major tournaments have been played, so Federer has appeared in 15% of those finals and won 10% of them. That's an insane number. The last 5 major championships have now been won by either Federer or Rafael Nadal and it is better than even money that Nadal will win his 11th French Open title this year to make it 6 in a row.

Federer is still at #2 on the list of singles titles won with 96, just 13 behind the top position of 109 held by Jimmy Connors. Can he win 13 more titles before he retires? I wouldn't put it past him!

Despite the fact that the men's final started at 3:30am I set my alarm and woke up to watch the match live. The match began as well as it possible could have for Roger Federer as he went up a double-break hold (4-0) and eventually won the first set in 24 minutes. However, the second set was much closer as Cilic started making fewer errors and more winners. Federer's serve was a key factor to him staying in the match to weather the periods in which he was being outplayed by Cilic, and he ended up hitting more aces than his 6-foot-6" opponent. In the tiebreak Federer earned a minibreak first but immediately lost it when Cilic hit a service return winner to even the breaker at 3-all. Then Cicil earned a minibreak and closed out the set with an easy overhead smash. In the third set Federer got an early break and maintained his serve to nurse the lead to 6-3 and a 2-1 set lead. Then he got another early break in the 4th set and at 3-1 it seemed the match would be over soon. For some reason he completely lost the rhythm on his serve (his first serve percentage in the 4th set ended up being 36%!) and ended up losing 5 consecutive games to lose the 4th set 3-6. The fifth set started well, as Federer went up 40-15 in his first service game but then had to save another 3 breakpoints to hold serve. As often happens, Cilic found himself in trouble on his serve after failing to win breakpoints the game before and went do 3-0 in the final set. They both held and then while serving down 1-4 Cilic made multiple backhand errors and got broken to go down 5-1. Federer easily held serve, hitting a kick second serve on championship that just kissed the sideline leading to a return error by Cilic. Aftr a challenge confirmed the serve was n, the match was over!

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