There's going to be a new Grand Slam Champion on Monday at the US Open as Marin Cilic crushed Roger in straight sets to book his spot in his first ever Grand Slam Final where he'll play Kei Nishikori who upset Djokovic in 4 sets. This one was a hugely one sided semi with Cilic playing lights out from start to finish to defeat the Swiss 6-3 6-4 6-4. It was a complete schooling and if it was Roger handing this kind of beating out I'd have been loving it, unfortunately the shoe was on the other foot yesterday which made it incredibly difficult to enjoy 😆
In my prediction post I had this one down as a Federer victory for sure considering the 5-0 H2H but he just didn't play at his best and more importantly wasn't allowed to by his Croatian opponent. Cilic served bombs when he needed them and his forehand kept Fed on the defensive in every rally of note. I can't really recall a time where Roger was actually in the match, he had a couple of small moments where he almost got his foot in the door but Cilic just kept slamming it shut. It's perhaps the most one sided Grand Slam Semi that Roger has ever lost, which isn't a bad thing, he has played 36 of them after-all, just a bad day at the office for a guy at 33 still competing and working hard to win tournaments.
Quick Match Recap
Cilic won the toss and chose to serve and although he dropped the first point of the match he fired down 4 huge serves to hold for 1-0. Fed soon levelled but in game 4 he managed to get broken from 40-0 up. Big moment in the set and it was just a casual service game from Roger who thought he'd done enough at 40-0 and then just went through the motions.
The Swiss did manage to create a break back opportunity but failed to convert as Cilic held for 4-1. Two simple holds later and Cilic took the opener 6-3. Hugely impressive start from him and he hardly missed a single ball all set.
The second set then started in terrible fashion for Roger has he was broken in the opening game, Cilic consolidated with ease and then never looked back. Each shot he played he seemed to build more confidence and Roger looked shell shocked on the baseline as he struggled to make any impression on the return. Cilic took the set 6-4.
Another match where Roger had slipped 2 sets down – could he come back again? Not impossible but the match was now clearly on Cilic's racquet. Things looked promising when Roger broke Cilic for the first time in the match to lead 2-0 but he made the cardinal sin of failing to consolidate. That pretty much spelled the end for him as with the way Cilic was serving it was unlikely he would be able to break him twice in one set.
The set went on serve until 3 games all where Cilic managed to break the Federer serve again before holding to lead 5-3. Roger fired down a love hold to at least make Cilic serve it out but by this point he was like an unstoppable train, hitting 3 aces and a backhand winner to move into the final.
|Stats||Marin Cilic||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||45/81 (56 %)||51/84 (61 %)|
|1st serve points won||39/45 (87 %)||36/51 (71 %)|
|2nd serve points won||20/36 (56 %)||16/33 (48 %)|
|Fastest serve||132 MPH||128 MPH|
|Average 1st serve speed||122 MPH||114 MPH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||91 MPH||96 MPH|
|Net points won||9/15 (60 %)||11/23 (48 %)|
|Break points won||4/8 (50 %)||1/2 (50 %)|
|Receiving points won||32/84 (38 %)||22/81 (27 %)|
|Total points won||91||74|
Thoughts on the Match
Not a fun match to watch if you're a Federer fan that's for sure as he was beaten comprehensively by the better player on the day. Cilic got off to a flyer and from the first game onwards he was never under any pressure. He's known for mentally folding in tough matches but here every game just seemed to give him more confidence to the point where he wasn't ever missing.
Credit to him really, he served huge and 47% of his total points won in the match were outright winners. Just a very clean match and Roger was left at the start gate in this one. That's all you can really say about it; one guy was firing on all cylinders, the other was just trying to make it competitive but not doing a great job of it :).
So could Fed have done anything differently? Hindsight is always 20:20 so it's very easy to say he should have done this or done that differently and I honestly don't know if Cilic was even beatable on the day. The Croat just played at a level of consistency he has never managed before, it surprised me and it clearly surprised Roger too. He looked completely out of ideas by the end of it and when a guy serves that huge it's tricky.
The only real disappointment for me is that Fed was just kinda waiting for Cilic's level to drop rather than make it happen himself and that is my only criticism. He let things get way out of hand way too quickly and the match only lasted a mere 1 hour 45 minutes; in that time I don't think Cilic had to think about a single shot, he was just crushing it on autopilot. Of course on the other hand, it's been a tried and tested method for Federer over the years to just play his base level and wait for the opponent to fade, the problem in this was the gap between the two of them was so big that Cilic's level was never going to drop by that margin without some form of divine intervention or psychology coming into play.
Looking back Roger had to try shake it up on return, stand in a different place, move around, try make that one more ball, get Marin having to actually think about his next shot. Make it more mental than just about sheer groundstroke power. Slow things down too and try break the Cilic rhythm, instead he persisted with flat hitting trying to fight fire with fire and the rapier groundstrokes of Cilic just ate Federer's half baked ones alive.
Was it a one off? I think so to be honest but I guess we'll see what happens when Fed plays Cilic next time – we'll be able to see if the Croat played a one off blinder to win or whether he's found the secret to beating Federer multiple times. I'll edge with the former, he played last nights semi like he was supposed to; like a guy with nothing to lose. Fed was just the unlucky one to be on the receiving end of it.
Looking back at the tournament as a whole it's been a fairly successful one to make his 36th Grand Slam Semi Final and although the result was obviously a surprise it's not a complete shock to see him fall at this stage. If you look at Roger's level over the hard court swing he raised his level round by round in Cincinnati to win it, but here his performances actually decreased round by round. Obviously the level of the opponent went up each round but when he ran into Monfils he wasn't in ideal Quarter Final form. That match took a monumental effort to win in 5 sets by Fed and by the time the semi final came around his level didn't go up when he needed it to.
Next up is the Davis Cup which starts on Friday in Geneva. The Swiss are playing the Italians and they're definitely big favourites to win on an indoor hard court on home soil. Roger's straight back in action in the singles rubbers so hopefully he can put that loss to bed pretty quickly and get back to winning ways. One certainty is that he won't have to worry about Fognini playing as consistently as Cilic as the odds on that are similar to Nadal playing a full season. Slim.