Marin Cilic will contest the 2017 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer and it is safe to say that he would have his back against the wall as he faces a man who is vying for his record eighth title at the All England Club in 11 final appearance. It would be interesting how they match up now – a year after Cilic almost sent Federer packing in the quarterfinals but for the Swiss player’s return from two sets down.
This year he has played 15 tournaments and reached the final twice – won in Istanbul against Milos Raonic (on clay) and then emerged second-best in the final of Queen’s against Feliciano Lopez (on grass) in the run up to Wimbledon. He’s won the 2014 US Open but now he’s into the Wimbledon final for the first time in 11 attempts and faces a tall ask in Federer on Center Court.
First Round: vs Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Cilic’s power game proved too hot to handle for Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round of Wimbledon. After playing out a tight first set with Cilic taking the only break point available, the tall Croat started dictating terms from the back of the court with big forehands and booming serves. It extended Kohlschreiber’s winless streak at Wimbledon stretching back to 2014.
Second Round: vs Florian Mayer 7-6, 6-4, 7-5
With the sun seeping into his eyes, it looked as though Cilic’s big serve had deserted him early on. Mayer broke early and continued to maintain that advantage until Cilic drove back to seal the first set with three straight aces. He bagged a break in the ninth game of the second set and took a two set lead by holding in the next game. In the final set, Cilic came from behind to win four games in a row and thus the match.
Third Round: vs Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6, 6-4
After saving five break points, Johnson couldn’t save a sixth and lost the first 6-4 with Cilic already making inroads on the American’s serve. Despite Johnson’s possible hand injury after colliding with a chair, Cilic remain unphased to get an early break. But he was broken back when serving for the second. In the tiebreak, a double fault and thunderous groundstrokes gave Cilic the two-set lead. A pair of double faults in the third set gave Cilic the break and he took another for good measure.
Fourth Round: vs Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
Cilic demolished Bautista Agut who had come into after beating Kei Nishikori. Helped by his pounding serve and lethal forehand, the Spaniard had little reply to Cilic on Court 12. Despite his 19th rank, Agut looked out of depth and Cilic made the most of it. Cilic smacked nine aces and 39 aces past Agut. All that Cilic needed was an hour and 40 minutes to reach the quarters even as the eyes remain focused elsewhere on Manic Monday.
Quarterfinal: vs Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1
Having already performed one giant killing in Rafael Nadal, Gilles Muller looked to add Marin Cilic to that list but the Croat proved too much to handle for the big Luxembourgian. Muller had already been on the court for near five hours on Monday and needing to do almost four hours just two days later proved too arduous a task and Cilic capitalised. One must bear in mind that Muller didn’t make things easy but credit to Cilic for taking the ball early and closer to the baseline – in comparison with Nadal – to give Muller lesser reaction time. After tough four sets, the fifth looked straightforward but it had already been one ask too many from Muller.
Semifinal: vs Sam Querrey 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 7-5
Querrey had made the quarterfinals last year and this time he fell at the semifinal hurdle stage. Cilic booked his first Wimbledon final in 11 attempts with the win over the American. Contrary to the scoreline, it was hardly a walk in the park for Cilic who had to strive against the tall Querrey who had beaten Andy Murray in the previous round. Querrey took the first set and almost forced a fifth but for Cilic getting a break at a pivotal juncture in the contest.