MELBOURNE -- An emotional Roger Federer choked up in the closing stages of the trophy presentation on Sunday after creating more tennis history by winning an unprecedented 20th grand slam title with his victory at the Australian Open.
The Swiss set a new standard by beating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to win a sixth Melbourne trophy from his seventh final at the venue.
"During the match I constantly thought about the fact that I could reach 20," he told Swiss television. "I was nervous the whole day. I thought about what would happen if I lose, if I win. That's why I broke down during the speech."
Federer, 36, felt his voice cracking and brushed away tears of happiness while paying his respects to the crowd during the presentation after a three-hour victory over Cilic, who will rise to third in the world.
"I'm so happy, it's unbelievable," Federer said. "It's a long day to wait for a night final, you think about the match all day. It's easier to play in the afternoon.
"I'm happy it's over now -- either way. The win is a dream come true, the fairytale continues. After a great 2017 this is incredible."
Federer also paid tribute to his Croatian opponent: "Marin had a great event. Congratulations on becoming number three -- that's a hell of an achievement. Keep doing what you are doing."
Federer, already the men's record holder for grand slam victories, is now the first man to win 20 majors. Only Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf have won more majors.
The match was played with the stadium roof closed due to temperatures that topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with night levels not getting below 82.
The five-set match featured several twists, with Federer sweeping the opener with two breaks to wrap up the set in 24 minutes.