Roger Federer Emerges From Australian Summer With 6th Australian Open Title
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
He entered the tournament as the favorite and left with a 6th career Australian Open title, as Roger Federer went wire to wire, defeating Marin Cilic 6-2 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 in the final. Federer dropped just the two sets against Cilic all tournament, as he blitzed through a relatively weak path of Aljaz Bedene, Jan-Lennard Struff, Richard Gasquet, Marton Fucsovics, Tomas Berdych, and Hyeon Chung.Embed from Getty Images
Federer fired 24 aces, saved 7 of 9 break points, and overall served really well, while breaking Cilic six times in the match mostly on the back of second serve returns. The first and fifth sets were one way traffic, as Cilic finished like he started, shaky and on edge. The second and fourth sets saw Cilic show his promise as he pressured Federer enough to get breakthroughs. In Set 4 he came back from a break down to force a fifth. The third set end up proving decisive though as Federer broke in the only game that featured break points in the set.
In his third career Grand Slam final the new world #3 Cilic played much better than he did against Federer at Wimbledon in the 2017 final, but he never was able to take control against the Swiss maestro. That said, it was the toughest test for Federer all tournament, as surprise semifinalist Hyeon Chung was forced to retire due to blisters on his feet, and veterans Gasquet and Berdych simply rolled over when facing down Federer.
Chung’s breakthrough came in the round of 32 against Alexander Zverev, and the round of 16 against Novak Djokovic, he beat Zverev in 5, and Djokovic in straights. The former world #1 and Serbian superstar was still rusty from an injury layoff, but he didn’t have a terrible AO and Chung beat him outright, not due to a fluke. Likewise Zverev got frustrated, but he was still beaten by the South Korean #1 straight up, and the young Chung deserves full credit for his accomplishments in Melbourne.Embed from Getty Images
Chung spoiled the run of Tennys Sandgren, the last American standing, as he beat Sandgren in the quarters after the former Tennessee standout had upset both a less than fit Stan Wawrinka and young gun Dominic Thiem in Melbourne, beating Thiem in five sets and coming back from losing the 4th. Sandgren now has a great chance to back up the skill and mettle he showed in Melbourne the rest of the season, and became a regular contender at least the 250/500 level.Embed from Getty Images
Cilic’s path to the final was Vasek Pospisil, Joao Sousa, Ryan Harrison, Pablo Carreno Busta, Rafael Nadal, and Kyle Edmund. He dropped sets against Pospisil and PCB but won thanks to his consistency. Against Nadal he took advantage of the Spaniard’s labored movement, and eventually won via a 5th set retirement as Nadal’s knee injury left him unable to continue. A healthy Nadal probably wins that match, but Cilic still took full advantage of his opportunity.Embed from Getty Images
Edmund, 23, also had his slam breakthrough. He upset Kevin Anderson in the opening round, then beat three lower ranked players before upsetting Grigor Dimitrov in the four setter in the quarterfinals. Dimitrov missed out on his opportunity to make at least a slam final, while Edmund is stepping into the role of Britain’s leading man after Andy Murray was forced to exit stage right due to a hip injury.
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the men’s doubles final. It’s their first slam title as a team, and Pavic also won mixed doubles with Gabriela Dabrowski the next day.