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Roger Federer retains Australian Open crown

Roger Federer

Melbourne, Jan 29 (UITV/IANS)- Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam tennis title here on Sunday after overcoming Marin Cilic in the Australian Open final.

The thrilling five-set match ended 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, making it the 6th time for Federer to win the Australian Open, reports Xinhua news agency.

Off to a perfect start, the 37-year-old broke the Croatian's serve in the very first game.

Looking shaky, Cilic made a number of unforced errors and lost another break point.

When Federer served out the set, it appeared that it might be a short evening for fans at the Rod Laver Arena here.

But showing grit and determination, the world number six regained his composure and managed to hold serve in the second set to force a tie break.

The hard hitting Croatian was then able to edge ahead and level the score at a set a piece.

In typical Federer fashion however, the world number two came roaring back and won the third set with excellent backhand returns that put Cilic under heavy pressure.

When Federer got the early break at the beginning of the fourth set, it once again looked as though Cilic was in trouble.

But somehow the former U.S. Open champion found another gear and blasted Federer with powerful baseline hitting.

The aggressive strategy paid off and Cilic broke Federer twice to take the lead and serve out the set.

With the atmosphere tense and both players exhausted leading into the deciding set, Federer told Xinhua, at that point "I was just focused on winning a game again," he said.

"He came back from 3-2 and won four games straight, so for me it was really just about trying to break his momentum."

"At least get on the board and maybe the momentum would shift."

"I tried to serve well and to get lucky a little bit and I think that is exactly what happened."

"I think experience helped me there," he added.

In the end, Federer eased his way to victory and furthered his all time men's Grand Slam record.

Although heartbroken and disappointed after the epic five set battle, Cilic said he "was happy with his performance."

"I managed to turn it around in that fourth set and that lifted me, I was hitting the ball great and playing phenomenal," he said.

"But the first game of the 5th set was crucial and it just ran away from me."

The Croatian also admitted that "mentally it was tough" to adjust to the decision by officials to close the roof of the stadium due to the extreme heat.

"I played all my matches outdoors throughout the tournament so it was difficult," Cilic explained.

To ease the blow however, Cilic will pocket 1.6 million U.S. dollars and move up to number three in the world rankings.

Federer will remain in second spot behind Rafael Nadal and walk away with 3.2 million U.S. dollars in prize money.