Roger Federer has broken down in tears after winning his sixth Australian Open Men’s Singles title and 20th Grand Slam Singles title overall – a sign that Federer’s hatred for tennis continues to grow as the sport refuses to release him from its grasp.
The Swiss Federer defeated Croatian opponent Marin Čilić (6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1) in another famous final that went to the maximum five sets to reach a result. While Federer was able to keep his emotions under control for most of the post-match ceremony, it was at the conclusion of his acceptance speech that he was no longer able to hide his sorrow.
Federer, 36, has been unable to escape the clutches of tennis since he turned professional 20 years ago, in 1998. While undeniably talented, Federer’s hatred of tennis has been long evident with emotional outbursts at several tournaments throughout his career. A feeling of obligation has been suspected to be the only driving force in Federer’s career, which he commented upon during his acceptance speech.
“I’d like to thank the sponsors for supporting this tournament. I’d like to thank Marin who put up a good fight today, you were great and you’re going to do great things in the future. Most of all I’d like to thank the fans who always come out and show me great love and support,” said Federer.
“Those fans who love to watch me hit tennis balls over this net over and over again. A lot of the time someone else hits it back, so I hit it again…and the fans love it.
“They can’t get enough of the constant hitting of tennis balls back and forth, back and forth, the mindless monotony of trying to bounce a ball inside this big rectangle that’s an allegory for life. Just like life you run up and down, from side to side just trying to stay in play but you can never just let loose…you have to stay in the boundaries that someone else has drawn. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ALL? CAN’T YOU LET ME GO? WHY WON’T YOU SET ME FREE?!” Federer continued, before openly weeping clutching his trophy.
Long-time friend and former Australian tennis champion Rod Laver, speaking to ASW, was sympathetic to Federer’s plight.
“I’m 79 years old and I’m still forced to come to the tennis. The racquets are stronger, the players are faster, the serves are quicker…” said Laver.
“…but it’s still fucking tennis. Get ready for another 50 years, Roger. This is your life, now. It’s like the Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave.
“I wanted to be a speech pathologist.”
Federer’s next chance to add to his Grand Slam tally will be at the French Open in May.
The golden child of Australian tennis, Nick Kyrgios, has continued his amazing record of beating the world's best at his first opportunity by defeating world number 2 Novak Djokovic in their maiden encounter at the Mexican Open this week.
Kyrgios has made a habit of beating the biggest names in tennis, having previously defeated Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their first matches against each other.
This has made all of Australia very happy.
"There's no-one I like watching succeed more than Nick," said the president of the Australian supporters group, The Fanatics.
"Sometimes he gets a bad wrap from the papers, but so did Damir Dokic when all he wanted was a new bit of fish.
"Nick is just fiercely passionate and sometimes that comes out as unadulterated abuse, but apart from his opponent, the fans, his opponent's coaching team, his own coaching team, his own country, every other country, the media and the concept of tennis in general, Nick's never targeted the abuse AT anyone."
Kyrgios is now the only player other than fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt to beat Djokovic, Federer and Nadal at their first meetings.
Hewitt reached number 1 in the world rankings in his career, which included US Open and Wimbledon titles, Davis Cup wins and the promotion to Australian captain. Earlier this week, Kyrgios told teenagers to 'shut the fuck up' because they were supporting someone else.
Djokovic, Federer and Nadal are also famously despised in Australian tennis, with the trio being nicknamed 'The European Poo-ropeans'.
Kyrgios's achievement has also served to lift the spirits of the entire Australian tennis community who earlier this week were left saddened but proud over Bernard Tomic's over-application of effort.
Roger Federer has won his 18th Grand Slam singles title defeating his long-term respected rival Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open last night in a five-set thriller, 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3.
His first Grand Slam victory since 2012 and coming off a six-month absence from the tour, Federer's journey back to the top has been a long one. Visibly emotional and jumping for joy as his title win was confirmed (the final point was decided by video review) it was obvious that, while each Grand Slam victory has the same statistical importance, this most recent one may have been the most sweet.
ASW now looks back at the lead-up to Federer's victory and the obstacles he overcame to cement his place as the man ahead of everyone that's come before.
January, 2016: Federer lost to eventual winner Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open. The day after his tournament exit, Federer sustained a knee injury from attempting to kick a homeless person's hat full of coins. A torn meniscus the result, Federer was forced to miss action in February and March.
March, 2016: His expected comeback at the Miami Open had to be postponed due to a stomach virus, believed to have been contracted during a grappling street-fight against another member of the homeless community whose main attacking move was to cough directly down Roger's throat.
April, 2016: Federer returned to action at the Monte-Carlo Masters eventually losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter finals. Expecting to continue on to the Madrid Open Federer suffered another injury, this time his back, while attempting to help load an unexpectedly heavy shipment of firearms and narcotics into the cargo hold of an oil tanker off the coast of Spain. His lingering injuries eventually saw him withdraw from the French Open, the first time he had missed a Grand Slam tournament since 2000.
June, 2016: Federer participated at Wimbledon losing in the semi finals to Milos Raonic. During the course of the tournament, however, his early round wins earned him the honour of equalling Jimmy Connors record of 84 match wins at the tournament. Despite this record he still left England as a tremendous loser, embarrassed beyond belief.
July, 2016: Federer announced he would miss the Olympics and subsequently the remainder of the season due to ongoing concerns over his knee injury.
October, 2016: Federer watched Westworld.
January, 2017: Federer returned to partner Belinda Bencic representing Switzerland at the Hopman Cup, the first time he had participated in the tournament since 2002 when racquets were made of wood and everyone wore a hat. They were knocked out in the round-robin stage.
Australian Open, 2017: After last-minute recalibrations on his new bionic leg, Federer dropped a set to 300th-ranked qualifier Jurgen Melzer in the first round. Upon realising that his knee had been turned to the 'hop' setting (with suspicions of dressing-room sabotage), Federer was able to make the necessary adjustments that saw him win his second and third round matches in straight sets, defeating top 10 player Tomas Berdych.
A five-set win against number five seed Kei Nishikori followed, and then victories over Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka, earning Federer a place in the final against Rafael Nadal. In a see-sawing five set match that saw them win alternating sets, Federer was down a break early in the fifth, before finally stabbing Nadal directly in the heart with the sharpened handle of his racquet allowing him to break back. The momentum, and horrific blood loss, was against Nadal and he couldn't hold back the Federer tide, with the Swiss champion breaking Nadal's serve one more time before serving out the match.
With tears welling in his eyes and his ever faithful wife cheering him from the stands, Federer pushed Rod Laver aside, punched Nadal in the gut and held his trophy aloft, surely crowned as the Greatest Of All Time.
Serena Williams has defeated her sister, Venus, to win the 2017 Australian Open Women's Singles title and her 23rd Grand Slam title overall. Serena won in straight sets, 6-4 6-4, in 1 hour 21 minutes, regaining the number one world ranking in the process.
Here are the main talking points from a family final...
The Williams Campervan: Much of the pre-game talk was speculation over which Williams sister would get the top bunk bed in the family's campervan the night before the big match. Reporters swarmed the vehicle as it pulled up to Rod Laver Arena to try to get the inside scoop but they weren't prepared for the answer! Serena slept in a sleeping bag under their recently purchased Vango Air Beam Airaway Kela Awning which affixed to the side of the van, providing shelter and comfort on a cosy Melbourne summer night!
Breaking Point: The first four games of the match saw neither sister holding serve, with the score equal at 2-2. Serena smashed her racquet in frustration during the third game which many thought might hinder her chances as it was her lucky racquet that she had bought in an Egyptian market. A golden scarab beetle encased in the handle had long been believed to give they who wielded it exceptional abilities. As the match wore on it became obvious to all that the Egyptian mystic who had sold her the racquet was a scam artist full of shit.
Return to Sender: Serena won both sets by a single break of serve and her ability to hit return winners proved to be the difference. Serena only won 10 more points than Venus over the course of the match 69-59, however seven of those were return winners while Venus was unable to manage any. Venus only won 29% of points on her second serve and 0% on her third and fourth.
Subdued Celebrations: As Serena watched a Venus shot land wide on Championship Point she sat on the ground in a reserved celebration of relief, rather than exultant joy, before embracing her sister and contemplating what she had achieved. By winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, Serena surpassed the previous Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles previously held by Steffi Graf. Of course, being the Australian Open, Basil Zempilas, who looks like a greasy sock, didn't mention this statistic in the post-match presentation, opting to focus on the fact that Margaret Court was still one Grand Slam ahead despite winning them under different circumstances as an amateur.
The Most Literal Post-Match Speeches of All Time: Venus was composed and gracious in defeat while Serena was thankful and humble in victory, but this didn't stop the sisters from giving the most literal post-match speeches of all time.
"That's my little sister, guys," said Venus in reference to Serena and, in the process, clearing up any residual confusion as to why two players with such similar names were playing against each other in the final.
"She's the only reason the Williams sisters exist," said Serena of Venus in her subsequent speech, expanding on Venus's revelation that they were sisters and pointing out that without one of the requisite sisters, the sisters would not be sisters.
In thanking her parents, Serena also touched on the foundations of evolutionary biology and the nature of animal reproduction.
"Life wouldn't be possible without them," said Serena and, in referencing both mother and father, eliminated the possibility of any truth in the rumour that her mother created her by asexual reproduction processes.
A Nice Sandwich: Following the pomp and ceremony, Serena and Venus retired back to their campervan, shook hands, and shared a lovely curried egg sandwich, ready for an early night as their day had been very tiring.
After 16 years since her last Australian Open semi-final appearance, Venus Williams once again has a chance to go through to the Australian Open final if she defeats CoCo Vandeweghe tomorrow.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the draw, her sister Serena has the same opportunity if she can overcome Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. If both Williams sisters progress to the final it will be their ninth meeting in a Grand Slam singles final and their first since 2009, the exact amount of time needed to have passed to create an interesting narrative again.
Venus, 36, is now the oldest woman ever to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open, and says she felt it was time.
"Truth is I was getting bored. I was watching some home movies from when Serena and I were just kids, playing together, showing off for mom and dad, winning Wimbledon, and I just got nostalgic. I called her (Serena) up and just said 'Hey girl, wanna catch up? Relive the old days?' and she was as excited as me," said Venus.
Serena spoke of her surprise to hear from her sister.
"I couldn't believe it. I was at home polishing my French Open and Australian Open trophies, y'know, the ones Venus doesn't have, when the phone rang.
"It was like a bolt of lightning out of clear sky! I mean, I hadn't played Venus in a Grand Slam singles final since Wimbledon in 2009, which I won, and it just seemed crazy.
"Of course we had to do it. I was so excited. I had to ring all the other girls on the (WTA) tour just to tell them that we'd both be trying again. Some were disappointed, some were excited for us, but they all understood."
Martina Hingis, another former world number 1 who is younger than Venus and played her last Australian Open singles tournament a decade ago, expressed happiness for her former rivals.
"Oh yeah, I remember them. From years ago, right? Good on them. I can remember the first time I played against Venus in a Grand Slam final clearly because the next day I watched the premiere episode of Ally McBeal.
"Yes, we played in a Grand Slam final before Ally McBeal."
Millions are expected to watch the final this weekend if the Williams sisters get through because, regardless of the victor, the real winner will be tennis (if that's how you interpret the continual domination of the tennis community by one family over 20 years).