Cilic recovered from two sets to one and a break down to force a fifth set but Federer proved stronger in the end to win 6-2 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 3-6 6-1 and join Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson in claiming his sixth title in Melbourne.
From a commanding position two sets to one and a service break up in the fourth, Federer dropped five of the next six games to allow Marin Cilic the opportunity to steal the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup from under his nose.
It is the Federer's sixth Australian Open title.
When Cilic lost the first four games in 12 minutes, it looked like the match might be as one-sided as their Wimbledon final last summer, when struggles with blisters reduced the Croatian to tears. For the world No. 1 Nadal, he appears to have a less severe injury than initially expected.
The decision certainly seemed to play into Federer's hands.
The South Korean player had to take a medical timeout after a blister on his left foot.
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Anthony ranks 21st on the NBA's all-time scoring list and now is 191 points away from passing Jerry West for 20th all time. Buddy Hield scored 24 points for Sacramento, which got 14 from Fox, 11 from Bogdan Bogdanovic and 10 from Zach Randolph.
"I am happy that I got a chance in the fifth set and I got lucky in the beginning of the fifth". "He was the one calling the shots all of a sudden". Although numerous external factors contribute, it is nonetheless astounding that even during his prime, Federer had only managed this feat once before.
Tournament organisers said the wet bulb globe temperature, or the humidity measure, was above its threshold of 32.5.
In Cilic, he has a seasoned opponent who has tasted Grand Slam success before, at the 2014 US Open, beating Kei Nishikori in the final. "Big congratulations to Roger and his team - it's amazing what you guys do", Cilic said.
Laver doubts Federer would be thinking that way, but suspects the veteran has a window of another year to 18 months to keep piling up the slams.
The Swiss star served out the first set in just 24 minutes after a double break and a shaky Cilic opening. After going more than four years without winning a major, he has now won three of the last five.
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