US Open: Cilic Crushes Nishikori For Men’s Title

cilicGrigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic have often been talked about this year as being part of the next generation of players who can break up the dominance of tennis’ Big Four.

But judging by his display at the U.S. Open, Marin Cilic could be the most likely candidate.

Cilic became only the third men’s player outside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win a grand slam title since early 2005 when he crushed Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-3 6-3 in under two hours in New York on Monday.

Few, however, would have seen it coming — last year the 25-year-old Croatian did not play at the season’s final major because he was serving a drug suspension.

Cilic felt aggrieved when he received his nine-month ban after testing positive for a banned stimulant he said got into his system accidentally.

It was later reduced to four months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled that the initial punishment handed out by the International Tennis Federation was too severe.

He returned late last year with extra gusto — and a serve made even better by his charismatic coach, countryman and idol, Goran Ivanisevic.

Ivanisevic himself was one of the biggest servers in the history of the men’s game.

“In this last year my team has brought something special to me, especially Goran,” Cilic, who pocketed $3 million, told the crowd. “We’re working really hard, but most important of all the things he brought to me was enjoying tennis and always having fun.

Cilic overpowered Federer in the semifinals in straight sets and did the same against the diminutive Nishikori, firing 17 aces and winning 80% of his first-serve points.

In the sixth game of the second set, Cilic hit four straight aces to hold to love. And when it was not his thunderous serve, it was his heavy ground strokes which pinned back his Japanese opponent.

While Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001 to send his nation into a frenzy, Nishikori was bidding to become the first Asian man to claim a grand slam singles title.

Back at home ahead of the finale, excitement soared to unprecedented levels after Nishikori upset Djokovic in the semifinals.

CNN

 

Remarkably, he did not know if he would be able to compete in New York this year because he had surgery to remove a cyst from his toe a month ago and missed warmup tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati.

“He was playing really well today and I couldn’t play my tennis,” Nishikori told the crowd. “It’s a really tough loss but I’m happy to come into the final.-CNN

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