Evergreen Roger Federer believes he can sustain his Indian summer after claiming the 20th grand slam title of his career with victory over Marin Cilic at the Australian Open.
Federer, 36, overcame sixth seed Cilic in five sets, winning 6-2, 6-7, (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to successfully defend his crown and join Rod Laver and Novak Djokovic on a record six Melbourne triumphs.
Having gone four and half years without winning a grand slam event, the Swiss has now won three of the last five. His principal rivals, meanwhile, continue to be plagued by injury.
“I’ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself,” said Federer, who has four more Majors than Rafael Nadal, his nearest challenger in the all-time standings.
“I’ve just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. Then I don’t think age is an issue, per se. It’s just a number.
“But I need to be very careful in my planning, really decide beforehand what are my goals, what are my priorities. I think that's what is going to dictate how successful I will be.
“I enjoy practice. Not minding the travel. Having a great team around me, they make it possible.”
This win made Federer the second oldest man to win a men’s grand slam singles title in the Open era, after Ken Rosewall, who won his fourth and final Australian Open, aged 37 years and two months, in 1972.
Federer, who turns 37 in August, will surpass Rosewall’s record if he mounts another successful defence in Melbourne next year.
He broke down when presented with the trophy, admitting that he had suffered with self-doubt both before and during the final.
“I froze in the tie-breaker. And I got nervous in the fourth set. I couldn’t stop the bleeding, almost,” added Federer, who picked up a winner’s prize of AUS$4m (£2.3m).
“He was in control, calling the shots My mind was all over the place in the fourth set, like, ‘Don’t mess it up’. I had to get lucky at the beginning of the fifth set. And I could see he was feeling it.
“My thoughts were all over the place all day. I was thinking: ‘What if I lost? What if I won?’. By the time the match comes around, you’re a wreck.”