MELBOURNE, Australia -- Was there ever any doubt Roger Federer would defend his Australian Open title?
Well, maybe a little, and then perhaps a little more when Marin Cilic pocketed the fourth set of Sunday night's final to send the match into a decider. But somehow, amid the many momentum swings, the Swiss got the job done as he so often does.
Federer clinched his 20th career Grand Slam title, and a record-equaling sixth in Melbourne, after downing Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in a jam-packed Rod Laver Arena.
Here are some of the best stats to come out of the gripping final:
This was the 200th major tournament in the Open era. Federer's 20 titles mean he has won 10 percent of men's Grand Slam finals.
At 36 years, 137 days, Federer became the second-oldest male player to win a major and oldest since Ken Rosewall in 1972.
Federer's 2018 title at Melbourne Park comes 14 years after he won his first Down Under.
1965 was the last time both the men's and women's Aussie Open finals went to a deciding set.
As expected, social media reacted accordingly to Federer's stunning achievement:
Congratulations Roger- the GOAT!!! https://t.co/c2LE6zEdHU— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) January 28, 2018
Undescribable RF#20 pic.twitter.com/xScha1jBiE— Ivan Ljubicic (@theljubicic) January 28, 2018
Roger Federer wins the #AusOpen to earn his 20th major title, becoming the 4th male or female in tennis history to win at least 20 slams joining Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf. pic.twitter.com/QhbzeOGE4u— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2018
How many Grand Slam titles @rogerfederer now has:— Pat Cash (@TheRealPatCash) January 28, 2018
Just an insane number. Amazing!
Emerson. Djokovic. Federer. 6 x Australian Open crowns apiece. Astonishing then, incredible now.— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) January 28, 2018
🏆20. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WqUiSo3fd5— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) January 28, 2018
What happened in the final?
The match began in unfamiliar circumstances with the roof closed for the first time in a men's Grand Slam final. It didn't sit well with everyone.
I can't believe they've closed the roof. #ausopen— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) January 28, 2018
Absolutely ridiculous that the roof is closed for the Australian Open https://t.co/d3uJzYZhEl are outdoor events. Yes it's hot but the court is under shade and an evening match.— Greg Rusedski (@GregRusedski1) January 28, 2018
So why exactly was the roof closed, when it was left open during the first week of the tournament when the mercury soared past 40C (104F)? Who can forget Gael Monfils almost melting during his loss to Novak Djokovic in the second round?
Federer breaks down during trophy ceremony
An emotional Roger Federer thanks the fans after winning the Australian Open.
In a statement from the Australian Open, after a reading of the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) at 7:32 p.m. local time, chair umpire Jake Garner said the 32.6 WBGT was slightly higher than the 32.5 threshold. As a result, the referee made the decision to keep the retractable roof closed. The statement also said that it was the first time during the tournament that the reading had exceeded 32.5.
Despite the controversy, fans quickly shifted their focus from the roof to the on-court action as Federer and Cilic were locked in an enthralling battle.
Federer took the opening set in just 24 minutes and a repeat of Cilic's loss against the same opponent in last year's Wimbledon final looked inevitable. However, the Croatian found a way to claw his way back into the match, claiming a second-set tiebreaker.
The next two sets were split to send the men's final into a decider for the second year in succession, and it was the now 36-year-old who held his nerve, winning the Australian for the second straight year.
For the 20th time in his illustrious career, Roger Federer hoists a Grand Slam trophy!
Cilic, who rose to No. 3 in the world after his run to the final, said he was proud of his performance, although he was somewhat perplexed by the decision to close the roof before the match.
"You know, throughout the tournament I played all my matches outdoors, also preparing a hot day, 38 degrees," Cilic said. "Then first match for the final to play with the roof closed, it's difficult. I think that it was just little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected. That was very, very difficult, especially for the final to, you know, be in that kind of a situation."
Federer, who also said he was surprised by the decision to close the roof, said he entered the match more nervous than usual.
"You can't explain it sometimes. It is just a feeling you get ... I was not negative, but I just felt like I saw a loss was coming somehow," he said.
"I didn't fall asleep very well after the Chung match ... all of the next day I was already thinking about how should I play Marin, how cool would it be to win 20, but no, don't think of it, but how horrible would it be to lose it. I had it for over 36 hours, to be honest. It was a lot.
"I think I lost the second because of nerves, to be honest. It's all good. I like to care. It's good I can care about these matches."
Halep heads to hospital
As if losing the Aussie Open final in three long sets wasn't enough, Simona Halep was forced to spend the night in the hospital after suffering severe dehydration.
Halep, who lost 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 to Caroline Wozniacki in Saturday's women's final, spent 2 hours, 49 minutes on court during the match to take her tournament tally past a whopping 14 hours.
"Just reported by @ESPN: Simona Halep went to the hospital overnight for four hours and was treated for dehydration. Was released Sunday morning". (@WTA_insider).— Ilya Ryvlin (@ryvlin) January 28, 2018
And they showed this picture... pic.twitter.com/OQTByVVCpM
The Romanian was in the hospital for 4½ hours before being discharged.
So long, Melbourne Park
And with that, another Australian Open comes to an end. The past two weeks can only be judged as an absolute success, if the number of fans pouring through the gates at Melbourne Park is anything to go by.
This year's tournament attracted a record overall attendance of 743,667, bettering last year's mark of 728,763.
Until next year ...