Roger Federer has won his way into the history books, and even further into tennis fans’ hearts, with an epic win at the Australian Open on Sunday night.
The Swiss player had plenty of people in the crowd in tears with his emotional speech after receiving the trophy, having won the men’s final 6-2 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 against Croatian Marin Cilic at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park.
The win was Federer’s sixth Australian Open triumph and his 20th grand slam win – making him the first man to take that many grand slam titles. He’s now equalled Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall’s record of winning four grand slams after the age of 30 and at 36 is near Rosewall’s record as the oldest man (37) to win a grand slam singles title.
The momentousness of his win wasn’t lost on Federer, who broke down as he received his trophy.
“This is a dream come true, the fairytale continues for me. After the great year last year, it’s incredible,” the tennis star said, his eyes welling up as he paid tribute to the tennis fans around him. “You guys make me nervous. You guys make me practice. You guys fill the stadiums. Thank you.”
Even Laver himself was moved by the speech, caught on camera in the crowd photographing Federer as he spoke.
Speaking later about why it was such a meaningful moment for him, Federer admitted that he found it difficult to hit upon any topic that was not “very meaningful and very emotional” for him, the Herald Sun reported.
“But I hoped over time in the speech I would start to relax a little bit, but I couldn’t,” he said. “At the same time I’m happy I can show emotions and share it with the people. If I got emotional, it’s because it was a full crowd again. No people in the stadium wouldn’t make me emotional, I’ll tell you that. This is for them really also.”
Of course, he didn’t miss out on congratulating his opponent Cilic, and thanking his wife Mirka, his support team, Cilic’s support team, the event sponsors, the volunteers who worked at the event, and Australians in general.
Not that this signals the end of Federer’s ambitions. Asked how long he felt he could continue to play at such a high level – he’s currently the world number two – he said that he’d won three grand slams in the past 12 months so didn’t see his age as an issue.
“I just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen,” he said.