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After 20th Grand Slam, how much longer will Federer go on?

36-year-old Swiss tennis player Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2018 Tournament on Sunday.
36-year-old Swiss tennis player Roger Federer won his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2018 Tournament on Sunday. Reuters/Thomas Peter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer sought to play down the question of his age on Monday, a day after beating Marin Cilic to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title.

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After strolling onto a field to accept the Australian Open trophy against the Melbourne skyline, the 36-year-old said he was still reeling from the shock of winning his 20th Grand Slam.

“I can’t believe I was able to defend my title," he said. "After all these years I could do it again.”

He also remained cautious about the impact his age would have on his prospects for next year’s tournament.

“It’s probably better to stay relaxed about my chances, especially in the later years on the tour,” Federer said. “I think it’s served me well that I stay relaxed throughout.”

His remarks echoed those made the previous say, after winning 6-2 6-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 on Sunday.

“I don’t think age is an issue, it’s just a number,” he said after defending the title he won 12 months ago.

“But I need to be very careful in my planning, really decide beforehand what are my goals, what are my priorities.

“I’ve won three slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself. I just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen.”

Singles titles record

Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at the age of 37, is the only man older than Federer to have won a major singles title in the Open era.

But Federer also faces another major milestone, the record for most major singles titles.

Margaret Court holds the record with 24 titles and Serena Williams set the record for the Open era last year as she won her 23rd title beating her sister Venus at the Australian Open.

Sunday’s win was the first time Federer successfully defended a Grand Slam title since 2008, stirring memories of the days when he won five consecutive titles at both the US Open, from 2004 to 2008, and Wimbledon, from 2003 to 2007.

“I didn’t think 20 was ever possible, to be honest,” Federer said. “Those numbers are surreal. They’re amazing. I’m very happy if it stays at 20.”

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