Roger Federer had tears streaming down his face on Sunday night as he became the first man in history to win 20 Grand Slam titles after a masterclass performance at the Australian Open.
The Swiss maestro broke down as he kissed the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup before holding it up above his head after he defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic in a gripping five-set match.
Mirka, his wife of nearly nine years, was seen reaching down to him on the ground at Rod Laver Arena as he reached up to her with an adoring look on his face.
Sunday’s victory was Federer’s sixth Australian Open triumph, matching long-time rival Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson for the most titles at the event.
Roger Federer, 36, was seen with tears rolling down his face on Sunday night as be became the first man in history to win 20 Grand Slams
The Swiss maestro looked overwhelmed as he kissed the massive silver trophy before holding it up above his head
The Swiss maestro was seen looking adoringly up at his wife as they held hands after his champion match at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena
Federer, his voice cracking with emotion, said: ‘I’m so happy, it’s unbelievable. It’s a long day waiting for the finals. It’s easier in the afternoon. I’m happy it’s over now but the fairytale continues for me after the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.
‘We had a wonderful time in Australia, we arrived last year,’ added Federer, referring to his December departure from Europe.
‘Big congratulations to Roger and his team, it’s amazing what you do year after year. It was an amazing journey for me to come to the final. I had a slight chance at the beginning of the fifth but Roger played a great set,’ said Cilic.
Federer’s victory seemed uncertain for a short period on Sunday, when the champion was forced into a fifth set after showing he was human by wavering in the fourth.
But he finally saw off the challenge of Cilic to win the final 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a tense three hours and three minutes.
There was a feeling it was meant to be when, somewhat controversially, the match was moved indoors due to a day of unusually steamy heat in Melbourne.
Federer, his voice cracking with emotion, said ‘I’m so happy, it’s unbelievable’ moments after taking the podium
Roger Federer became the first man to win 20 Grand Slam titles as he beat Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in Melbourne
Actor Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky secured two tickets to the hottest event in town as stars came en mass to watch
Cilic reached the final after a comfortable passage past Brit Kyle Edmund and took Federer all the way in a thrilling five sets
The two players were going head-to-head in a Grand Slam final for the first time since Federer beat Cilic at Wimbledon 2017
It took just 24 minutes for the Swiss ace to capture the first set as a double break of the Croat’s serve set him on his way
On serve Federer seemed unplayable for Cilic before the No 6 seed broke him twice in a spirited fourth set performance
Fans inside the Rod Laver Arena made their loyalty clear as many clung to Swiss flags as they witnessed Federer make history
These were bespoke conditions for him to play what was his thirtieth Grand Slam final.
Federer has now drawn level with Novak Djokovic on six Australian titles.
He is also the fourth person in history to hit the twenties in Major singles titles, the others being Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf.
The victory means he is also nearly back as world No 1, now just 155 points behind Rafael Nadal.
Federer’s record indoors is such that he will have been pleased to have the roof closed, a decision which was made in the half hour before the match after the mixed doubles final had also been held inside.
A Federer-led crowd cheered every touch but one lady expressed her disappointment he was not facing world No 1 Rafa Nadal
Before the first serve, both men had their eyes on another title with Cilic chasing just his second Grand Slam of his career
Despite being blown away in the opening set, Cilic responded magnificently and edged the second set via a tiebreak
With the match seemingly slipping away in record time early on, it was crucial for Cilic to take the second set and he knew it
There was certainly more humidity around and the temperature was baking hot, but it did not appear to have exceeded the 40 degree limit. It was in any event, still extremely muggy in the arena with the air conditioning struggling to pump in enough to keep a lid on things.
Tennis Australia emphasised that the decision is always ultimately down to the discretion of the Referee, Wayen McEwen, who has a meteorologist working with him on-site.
Cilic went in with a 1-8 head-to-head against the Swiss, and he initially looked a shadow of the player who had dismissed Kyle Edmund and the eventually injured Rafael Nadal.
Before he knew it, within seventeen minutes, he was 4-1 down, having been broken in the very first game when he made a dreadful mess of an overhead.
He also appeared to have a problem with his racket string tension, but despite changing his implement could not stop the first set going in 24 minutes.
He stepped it up at the start of the second and created two break points at 1-0, but then needed to save two that Federer had at 2-2.
By then Tennis Australia, sensitive to criticism by the likes of the Murray brothers, had put out a statement confirming the high levels of the humidity had exceeded the threshold.
The roof of the Rod Laver Arena was closed due to the extreme heat which has been a major talking point at the tournament
As the game went on Federer realised he was in for a major test as Cilic grew stronger and dominated the Swiss in the fourth
After the disappointment of the first set, few expected the level of spirit and determination shown by Cilic to take it five sets
As ever, Federer was the crowd favourite, and he had plenty of support as Cilic found his length and rhythm more as the match progressed.
He missed a backhand on set point at 5-4 but in the tiebreak pulled ahead for 6-4, and on his second set point was the aggressor in the rally, which saw him finish the point with an overhead.
He was now transformed, but then without warning played a poor game at 2-3 which saw Federer break to fifteen as his tactic of hitting short slices to the backhand began to pay dividends.
Having delivered an eighteenth ace, he held for 5-2.
A wonderful half-volley winner hit on the retreat in that game signalled that he was once again heading into overdrive, and he drove home the advantage at the start of the fourth set by breaking immediately.
Cilic was again put in two minds by a short slice to the backhand off his return and played a tame slice himself into the net on break point.
He saved certain defeat by tucking away a forehand when the Swiss had the chance to go 3-0 up.
That turned out to be significant because at 3-2 it was Federer’s turn to toss in a lousy game, and he was broken to love as Cilic swung away manically from the baseline.
Ros Packer, philanthropist and widow of Kerry Packer, was also in attendance for the record-breaking win
After a comfortable semi-final match, which saw Hyeon Chung retire in the second set, this was Federer’s toughest test so far
Cilic was beaten in straight sets by Federer at Wimbledon but the Croat showed how far his game has improved in Melbourne
The victory means 36-year-old Federer is also nearly back as world No 1, now just 155 points behind Spnaiard Rafael Nadal
At times like this you have to remember that the Swiss is 36 and, he was suddenly the one looking less energetic as the Croatian, filled with renewed spirit, took advantage of his drooping first serve percentage out break again with an inside out forehand.
It was a chokey sort of fourth set from the Swiss, and he needed to save two break points at the start of the decider.
Federer got fired up by a line call and in the next game it was Cilic who suddenly came over all nervous, serving two double faults to allow his opponent to break.
The Swiss was not going to make the same mistake twice and for the second year in a row he sprinted for the line in a decider, clinching it in 33 minutes, albeit slightly less memorably than against Nadal twelve months ago.