Roger Federer needed his exhausted legs for one last big effort Sunday night (Jan. 29) — going out dancing to celebrate his remarkable 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
And after seeing the sun rise over Melbourne, then celebrating some more with his children as they woke up in his family’s hotel suite, the man many call the greatest tennis player ever looked ahead from this stunning comeback title and spoke of adding yet another at this year’s Wimbledon.
The 35-year-old Federer surprised himself with this victory, seeded No. 17 and in his first tournament back from a six-month injury layoff. So he wasn’t going to let the achievement go without a fitting celebration.
“I was home by sunrise, which was good,” the still-beaming Swiss star said a day after his five-set win over Rafael Nadal. “It was nice to see the sun rise over Melbourne and get into the room. It was a long night but it was a lot of fun. Everyone was in such a good mood. It was a special day, a special … couple of weeks really, and it finished off in a great way — being silly and having fun and forgetting about everything. All of the pressure just went away and we were just all celebrating. It was great.
Federer said he felt OK, but he was tired for the traditional championship photo shoot.
“My legs hurt like mad and my back’s stiff now, too, because I couldn’t take any treatment, plus I was dancing,” he said. “I’m still on the high. I’m going to crash eventually but that’s OK.”
Federer, who confessed to being more of “a fun dancer” than a good one, said he was thrilled his two-year-old twin boys Leo and Lennart got to experience their father winning a Grand Slam for the first time, while seven-year-old daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva were “super excited” to see his trophy.
“As I walked in they woke up, so that was a bit of a weird moment,” he said. “But still it was so great because they were in such a good mood when they woke up and I walked in with the trophy.”
They weren’t the only ones to grasp the significance of perhaps Federer’s most unlikely Grand Slam win, his first since Wimbledon in 2012.
“People seemed genuinely really happy for me that I won a slam again, particularly this one (because) maybe it’s a bit of a fairy-tale after the comeback to come back this way,” he told a packed media gathering. “On so many levels I just felt like a lot of people were happy and that’s almost more important than me being happy.
“I was aware it was a big match but maybe not quite like this.”
Federer said he had never entertained thoughts that he could win his comeback tournament, figuring he could reach the quarterfinals and set a positive tone for the rest of the season.
“I just knew the draw was going to be that much more difficult because I was the 17th seed, so in the early rounds you’re going to get tougher draws,” he said. “I thought I could possibly be dangerous for a top guy, maybe beat one, and then that would probably be it, because the body would probably start aching, which it did, or my level would drop, which it didn’t. That was a big surprise to me, that my level was consistent.”
Federer said he would take time to reflect and let his body recover before his next tournament in Dubai from Feb. 27. After that he’d play Indian Wells and Miami before a European clay court schedule he hadn’t yet fully planned. He said he was aiming to play the French Open before moving to the grass court season and Wimbledon, saying: “I know I’ll have a better shot there.”
Federer also said he’d “have a good chance to do well” at the U.S. Open, and is still hoping to add another Australian Open title next year.
“I hope to be back next year of course,” he said. “That’s why I took the six months off to hope I can still be playing for a couple of years.”
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