Swiss tennis star Roger Federer stayed up all night drinking champagne with friends to celebrate his fourth Australian Open and record 16th grand slam title.
As the sun rose on Monday, he says he returned to his hotel and capped a memorable fortnight by holding one of his baby daughters in his arms.
Looking remarkably refreshed after a couple of hours’ sleep, Federer said winning his 16th grand slam was different from the past 15: he’s now married with six-month-old twins and everything – including his tennis – feels more meaningful.
"I'm excited about life, and there’s not only tennis," Federer said the day after defeating Andy Murray in straight sets to win his fourth Australian Open.
"Having kids and being a father now and being married enhances everything," he said, tanned and relaxed in jeans and a grey T-shirt. "I'm such a happy person today to see how well everything is working out for me. It just makes me extremely happy, extremely relaxed and it allows me to play good tennis, and I couldn't ask for more."
So far, juggling tennis and family has been easy. His wife, Mirka, and the twins, Myla and Charlene, travel with him and Federer says he hasn't spent a night apart from the babies since they were born on July 23.
By his own account, he played some of the best tennis of his career in the past two weeks, particularly in the final against Murray, who dashed Britain's hopes of winning the first men's grand slam title since 1936.
And that was just the beginning of his night. Federer is a willing orator off the court and held more than two hours of news conferences in English, French and German, which lasted until 1:30am. He then headed back to his hotel and was joined by an entourage of 30 or 40 people.
"We stayed at the hotel, had a nice DJ, bar, restaurant, it was a good atmosphere. It was nice," said the 28-year-old star, who is known for his discipline.
"We went to have some drinks, have some dinner, celebrate the victory but more or less hang out."
Federer's drink of choice? "Champagne, obviously."
He doesn't remember what time he went to bed. "When's sunrise here? Six or seven o'clock?"
One of his twin girls, Myla, was awake when he got back. "That was nice," he said. "I was able to see her, even though she's got obviously no clue what's happened. She couldn't care less. But I still felt it was a special moment to hold her in my arm after what happened, and it was nice. I read the papers here in Australia and went to bed, extremely tired."
Swiss papers – once again – hailed Federer as a hero, plastering him across their front pages either arms in the air on winning the match or proudly holding the trophy.
“Prodigious!” was the headline in the Tribune de Genève, which said the biggest problem for any newspaper was deciding which superlatives to use to describe Federer’s “breath-taking” victories.
Once it had got its breath back, it said becoming a father hadn’t taken the edge off either Federer’s motivation or his talent.
“The unbelievable journey continues,” said the Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich, which pointed out that Federer had started 2010 in the best possible way for the Grand Slam – which means winning all four grand slam titles in the same year, something that no man has achieved since 1969.
“The best Federer of all time,” was how the tabloid Blick heralded the Swiss’s victory, wondering where he got his motivation from.
He’d beaten Pete Sampras’s grand slam record, it said, finally won the French Open, become father of two girls, got millions in the bank – “and still his hunger to win remains unquenched”.
Blick added that Federer was now in the “most exciting phase of his career”. “His opponents have caught up. He will no longer win 12 titles a year. But when it counts, he’s still the person to beat – and because he plays not for records but for love of the game, he’ll be around for a while to come,” it concluded.
Even after all these years as a champion, Federer says he remains energetic about tennis. He said he’s not tempted at this point to take an extended break and then come back, like Belgian women Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.
"I don't think that's realistic or feasible for me. I think I'd just say maybe take a few months off but that doesn't mean take a half a season off. I just think it's too tough to come back after that. I don't know, the men's game is different, I think. It's brutal. The margins are so small."
From the start, Federer says he has been mindful about keeping a good balance between life and work.
"I feel like I've always had a good distance from the game," he said. "You don't want to feel like you have to play tennis, because it's something that was an opportunity, and now that I have it I want to savour it as long as I can."
Thomas Stephens, swissinfo.ch and agencies
The Australian Open is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments held each year. It was held for the first time in 1905 and was contested on grass until 1987, when it moved to the hard courts at Melbourne Park.
The two main courts used in the tournament are Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. These feature retractable roofs, which can be shut in case of rain or extreme heat.
The 2009 Australian Open achieved the highest ever single-day day/night attendance record for any Grand Slam tournament of 66,018.
In 2010 the winners will receive A$2,000,000 (SFr1,900,000) and the runners-up A$1,000,000, with the amount then more or less halving for each round.
Match record: 688-162
Career singles titles: 62
Grand slam titles: 16 – Australian Open (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), French Open (2009), Wimbledon (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009), US Open (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
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