Roger Federer pulled off one of the great feats in tennis history this past fortnight, returning from a six-month layoff at age 35 to win his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
But despite his heroics Down Under, the Swiss wasn’t immune to criticism.
Pat Cash took exception with Federer’s medical timeout before the fifth set of his 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal in the final.
“It’s cheating, and it’s being allowed,” the 1987 Wimbledon champion said on BBC Radio. “It’s legal cheating, but it’s still not right.”
Federer also took a medical timeout prior to the fifth set against Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion acknowledged that he used the MTO to his advantage, but defended his actions.
"My leg has been hurting me since the [Noah] Rubin match," Federer told reporters in his post-final press conference. "I was happy that I was able to navigate through the pain. For some reason, against Stan I had it from the start on both sides of the groin … I felt my quad midway through the second set already, and the groin started to hurt midway through the third set.
"I just told myself, ‘The rules are there, that you can use them.’ I also think we shouldn't be using these rules or abusing the system. I think I've led the way for 20 years. So I think to be critical there is exaggerating. I'm the last guy to call a medical timeout. I don't know what he's talking about."
With the championship in Melbourne, Federer moved from No. 17 to No. 10 in the rankings.