Roger Federer clinched the 20th Grand Slam title of his illustrious career after edging plucky sixth seed Marin Cilic in a five-set thriller in the Australian Open final on Sunday (28 January).
The 36-year-old Swiss was made to work extremely hard by the man he breezed past in last year's Wimbledon final but managed to stretch every fibre of his being to keep his Australian Open crown with a 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory.
"I'm so happy, it's unbelievable," Federer said, per BBC Sport. "It's been a long time waiting for this final. It's easier in the afternoon, but when it's at night you think about it all day. I'm happy it's over now. It's a dream come true and the fairytale continues. After the year I had last year, it's incredible.
"Congrats to Marin. World number three is an incredible achievement. Keep doing what you're doing and achieve more."
It looked like business as usual for Federer in the first set at the Rod Laver arena; the eight-time Wimbledon champion coasted to a 6-2 advantage and threatened to repeat his Wimbledon exploits against Cilic, who was vying for the second Grand Slam title of his career.
Cilic was determined not to let his decorated opponent walk over him again, though, and battled back to take the second set on a tie-break, completed by a composed overhead smash that wavered the rather pro-Federer crowd in Melbourne.
The Croat was doing his level best to keep pace with Federer but two minor mistakes on serve was all the Swiss needed to regain his advantage. He took the third set 6-3, and looked primed to wrap things up at a canter in the early stages of the fourth.
Federer broke Cilic immediately and held with relative comfort to set up what looked for all the world to be a four-set victory, but the sixth seed battled back as he has so often done during his career to take advantage of a rare double fault from Federer and break back twice in quick succession to take the penultimate set 6-3.
Cilic troubled Federer in the embryonic stages of the fifth, earning a couple of break points that his worthy adversary did well to come back from. Federer eventually held serve, roaring uncharacteristically after executing a wonderful backhand winner.
After surviving a sustained wobble Federer finally assumed control, fizzing back a gorgeous return to break Cilic at 2-0. The 2014 US Open crumbled from there, allowing Federer to force him into further mistakes, take the final set 6-1 and with that the 20th Grand Slam title of his career.
Cilic was humble in defeat, as you'd expect: "First of all congrats to Roger and his team. It's amazing what he does year after year. All the best for 2018," he said, per BBC Sport.
"It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life. I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match.
"My team have been unbelievable for the last two weeks. We started this year amazingly well and hopefully we can reach more finals and lift more trophies!"