Roger Federer has revealed that he had doubts before the final of the Australian Open on whether it would be his last chance to win his 20th Grand Slam, given his age and injury record over the past few years. He thought that should he fail to win, it would be difficult to go through the same journey again, especially when he had come so close to achieving something special.
The Swissman went on to say that he had not envisaged the Australian Open to actually become his 20th title and that the realisation came when Hyeon Chung retired in the semi-finals, paving the way for him to reach the final, where he beat Marin Cilic in five sets. .
The 36-year-old's future in the game was called into question following his struggles with injury in 2016 and, having not won a Grand Slam since 2012, there were doubts if he would ever add to his tally of 17 major titles. However, he came back in remarkable fashion to win three of the last five Grand Slams since returning from injury, taking his total to eight titles since the turn of 2017.
Federer's next aim would be to reclaim the number 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, who currently has a lead of 155 points in the ATP table. The Spaniard managed to hold on to his spot by reaching the quarter-finals, where a hip injury forced him to retire against Cilic.
Meanwhile, the 20-time Grand Slam winner revealed that he gets nervous like every normal person, something that does not always show on his face.
"It's because my face doesn't start twitching when I'm nervous but it's not that simple, its an emotional sport we live in," Federer told ESPN Tennis when discussing how he kept his nerve throughout the tournament, as quoted by the Express.
"Sport in general is an emotional thing and I was just not sure how this final was going to be played. I had a lot of question marks in my head. Was this going to be my last chance to ever get to 20? Maybe. SO close yet so far.
"I think all of this stuff I had to digest in some way because I don't really remember taking the plane at the end of December last year to Australia thinking 'I'm going to come back with 20'. I never really thought that and then when all of a sudden Hyeon retired in the semis it was real. It was like 'I could maybe get to 20.'"
"And I'm surprised so I think these emotions just took me some time to understand."