Defending champion Roger Federer plays sixth-seeded Marin Cilic on Sunday in the final of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Here are five things you may not know about this year’s Australian Open men’s singles final:
– Slam success shared –
Roger Federer and Marin Cilic will be playing each other in their second Grand Slam final. The Swiss great breezed past the Croatian in straight sets at last year’s Wimbledon final but a tearful Cilic played in pain from a nasty foot blister. He had previously conquered Federer in three sets in the semi-finals on the way to his 2014 US Open triumph. Overall, Federer leads 8-1, and 3-1 at Slams.
– Cilic’s Croatian first –
Cilic is the first Croatian man or woman to play in an Australian Open final and is bidding to become the country’s first multiple major winner ahead of Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli, who won one each. Ivanisevic has played in more major finals — four to Cilic’s three.
– Federer’s set piece –
If Federer wins the final in straight sets he will equal Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles at three without dropping a set through the tournament. It would be the second time for Federer at the Australian Open after powering through the 2007 event without losing a set.
– Age shall not weary them –
Federer at 36 is bidding to win a third major title after turning 35. Australian great Ken Rosewall is the only other man to have won a Slam title after his 35th birthday in the post-1968 Open Era, at 37 years old in the 1972 Australian Open.
– Pair’s practice in Maldives –
Federer and Cilic practised together last month when they discovered, by accident, they were holidaying together in the Maldives. “It was just the two of us and we were both looking for a hitting partner and it happened that we were there,” Federer said. “We actually went to practise twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid-back.”