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Federer hungry for more after record Open triumph

Tennis

Roger Federer has “no idea” how long he can continuing defying father time after adding to his legend with a record-equalling sixth Australian Open triumph.

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Federer is suddenly within sight of the all-time majors record after entering uncharted waters with an emotional 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 3-6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in Sunday night’s championship decider.

The insatiable Swiss is the first man ever to capture 20 grand slam singles crowns and hopes to continue rewriting the record books.

But, turning despite turning 37 this year, the Swiss marvel is offering no promises because even doesn’t know what’s around the corner.

“Honest, I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself,” Federer said after becoming the oldest Open champion in 46 years.

“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’s going to dictate how successful I will be.

“Exciting times ahead. But, no, as a professional, it’s what we do. But I’m happy I’m in that position right now.”

Playing under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena after officials controversially invoked the extreme heat policy, Federer repelled Cilic’s inspired mid-match comeback to repeat his 2017 Wimbledon final success over the Croat and match Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson with six titles in Australia.

Federer was unable to contain his emotions after raising the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, weeping uncontrollably after thanking his family and support team in the crowd.

“I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

“It’s a long day waiting for the finals. It’s easier when it is in the afternoon time. You sleep, you go out there and play and do your best. That’s it.

“When it’s at night you think about the match all day. It’s tough.

“I’m happy it’s over now, either way, but of course winning is just an absolute dream come true.

“The fairytale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”

Amazingly, Federer has now won 25 of his 26 matches at the majors since hobbling off Wimbledon’s hallowed centre court 18 months ago with a serious knee injury, his playing future uncertain.

With his idol Laver believing the former world No.1 is playing as well as ever, Federer’s relentless run has raised the prospect of the veteran Swiss reeling in Serena Williams’ open-era record of 23 grand slam singles titles.

If he can defend his Wimbledon crown – which he won last year without dropping a set – and salute for a sixth time in New York, Federer will return to Melbourne in 2019 gunning for grand slam No.23.

“He’s certainly playing as well as he did eight or 10 years ago,” Laver told AAP on Sunday.

In defending the title he won so spectacularly in 2017 after six months out of the game, Federer is also fast closing in on Rafael Nadal’s world No.1 ranking.

– AAP

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