Roger Federer reached his first Australian Open final in seven years on Thursday, after an epic five-set battle with Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion saw off the world number four 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and five minutes, in a game that saw fierce rallies, stunning shots, including a tweener, and some outrageous points.
While Federer's on-court form during the match was there for all to see, with the gritty win, his off-court form after the match, in the interview with Jim Courier, also drew a lot of attention. The 35-year-old was cheeky, cheerful and coupled with Courier's tendency to ask pointed questions, it made for a hilarious post-match interview.
The Channel Seven commentator asked Federer about his drop in form in the third set, which he lost 1-6, right at the start.
"Oh, well. It's good to talk about the bad stuff first, I guess," Federer replied, much to the amusement of the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena.
He followed with another quip when asked about his uncharacteristic medical timeout.
"I've had a leg thing going on for the week. I felt it from the second game on in the match. And I said you know what? I never take injury time, and Stan already took his. People won't be mad, and Stan won't be mad hopefully," he added.
But the highlight was when Courier pushed further, asking about the specific nature of the injury.
Federer, with a grin, responded, "If you go off the court, that means the treatment is further up the leg," the world number four said, to a hysterical audience.
"You don't need to be more specific," Courier immediately replied. "That's enough. We're gonna move along."
"But not that specific. We're still talking about the leg right?" Federer said with a laugh, leading Courier to remark, "These things are getting looser and looser, these interviews."
The bawdy jokes later, the two spoke about the match and a potential final with Federer's greatest rival, Rafael Nadal.
"It's real, I can really actually talk about a final, I've been dodging that bullet for the last few days," Federer said.
"Rafa's given me the most problems in the game... I'm probably Rafa's number one fan, I think his game is just tremendous. He's an incredible competitor,"
"I'm happy that we've had some epic battles over the years and of course it would be unreal to play him here," Federer said.
While Federer's preference seemed clear, he did not earn his reputation as one of the great gentlemen of sport without paying due respect to both of his potential opponents.
"(Dimitrov)'s got a very complete game. He can mix it up really well. He's very confident and you never want to play confident players, but it's him or Rafa," said Federer, laughing.
"It's going to be tough either way." Both Federer and Nadal missed the back end of last season because of injury, the Swiss after his first ever knee surgery and Nadal because of a wrist injury.
Federer said neither of them would have believed they would be potentially meeting in a grand slam final when they got together to open the Spaniard's academy in Mallorca just a few months ago.
"I was on one leg, he had the wrist injury and we were playing some mini-tennis with some juniors and we said, 'That's the best we can do right now'," he said.
"A few months later, we're potentially going to be in the final. I think it's been a very special tournament for both of us already."
Federer unusually took a medical timeout in his three-hour, five-minute battle with Wawrinka, saying he had been carrying an upper leg injury.
He said he was not worried about it and nothing was going to stop him from taking to the court and fighting it out for a fifth Australian Open crown at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
"I'll leave it all out here in Australia and if I can't walk for another five months, that's okay. I'll give it my best shot," he said.
"It feels amazing. I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought I would come this far in Australia. I have a couple of days off. It's beautiful, I'm so happy," Federer said.
Watch the full interview here:
The cheeky on-court interview relieved all sorts of reactions from tennis fans on Twitter, from praise to laughs. Fair to say, Federer charmed everyone with his off-court verbal shots as much as with his on-court ones. While, Courier at his classic interviewer best, was also lauded.
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) January 26, 2017
Rodger Federer said If you go off the court for treatment it's further up the leg . LoL. Courier says you don't need to be more specific LoL pic.twitter.com/bcsgCeG8jr
— Mo Tafolla (@MoTafolla) January 26, 2017
Credit to Courier for pushing on what exactly Federer's medical timeout was about. No cynicism, just certainly seemed tactical at the time.
— Paul Kelly (@MGPaulKelly) January 26, 2017
This interview is peak Courier/Federer. #thingsaregettingloose
— Figuratively.FIGURAT (@supertrain_) January 26, 2017
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 11:06:19 IST