Melbourne: Even by Roger Federer's standards, his path to a 30th grand slam final has been a breeze but things are about to hot up as Croatian Marin Cilic prepares to try to stop the Swiss claiming a sixth Australian Open title on Sunday.
Federer has only been extended past the two-hour mark twice in reaching his seventh final in Melbourne and even those two matches this week against unseeded Marton Fucsovics and Tomas Berdych were relatively straightforward straight-sets wins.
Here's a look at some of the interesting facts and figures ahead of the much-awaited 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 the 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 practice 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."
Facts and figures
Roger Federer: Age - 36; World ranking - 2; Prize money - $111,885,682; Career titles - 95; Grand Slam titles - 19; Australian Open best - Winner (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017)
Federer is aiming to add to his five Australian Open titles and in the process win a record 20th Grand Slam. It will be his seventh decider at Melbourne Park, a feat no one else has achieved. The Swiss great began his year at the Hopman Cup and won all four of his singles matches, putting him on a 10-match unbeaten streak. He will be the third oldest man to contest the Melbourne Park final and has extended his record for most Grand Slam final appearances to 30. Rafael Nadal is next with 23.
Road to the final
1st round: bt Aljaz Bedene (Slovenia) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
2nd round: bt Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
3rd round: bt Richard Gasquet (France x29) 6-2, 7-5, 6-4
4th round: bt Marton Fucsovics (Hungary) 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2
Quarter-final: bt Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic x19) 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4
Semi-final: bt Hyeon Chung (South Korea) 6-1, 5-2 ret
Marin Cilic: Age - 29; World ranking - 6; Prize money - $20,944,791; Career titles - 17; Grand Slam titles - 1; Australian Open best - Final (2018)
The towering Croat, one of the tallest men on tour at 6 feet 6 inches, won his first major title at the 2014 US Open, defeating Kei Nishikori in the final. He is at a career-high in the rankings and by beating Kyle Edmund in the semis will rise to No 3 in the world. Nicknamed "Chila", he made the final at Wimbledon last year, losing to Roger Federer and won at the event in Istanbul to go with five semi-final appearances. He warmed up for the Australian Open by making the semi-finals in Pune. His previous best at Melbourne Park was the last four in 2010.
Road to the final
1st round: bt Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (5)
2nd round: bt Joao Sousa (Portugal) 6-1, 7-5, 6-2
3rd round: bt Ryan Harrison (USA) 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
4th round: bt Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain x10) 6/7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 6-3
Quarter-final: bt Rafael Nadal (Spain x1) 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-0 ret
Semi-final: bt Kyle Edmund (Great Britain) 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-2
Head-to-head: Federer leads 8-1 (year, tournament, surface, round, winner, score):
2017 ATP Finals, Hard, Round robin: Federer 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1
2017 Wimbledon, Grass, Final: Federer 6-3, 6-1, 6-4
2016 Wimbledon, Grass, Quarter-final: Federer 6-7 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3
2014 US Open, Hard, Semi-final: Cilic 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
2014 Toronto, Hard, Round of 16: Federer 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4
2012 Shanghai, Hard, Quarter-final: Federer 6-3, 6-4
2011 US Open, Hard, Round of 32: Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
2011 Monte Carlo, Clay, Round of 16: Federer 6-4, 6-3
2008 Paris, Hard, Round of 16: Federer 6-3, 6-4
Published Date: Jan 27, 2018 20:01 PM | Updated Date: Jan 27, 2018 20:01 PM