Marin Cilic narrowly defeated Australian Nick Kyrgios 7-6(3) 7-6(4) in the Fever Tree Championships semi-finals at the Queen’s Club and will square off against Novak Djokovic who in turn defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6(5) 6-4, for the title.
The sixth-ranked Cilic and the tournament’s top seed, is chasing his second title at this major warm-up event for The Championships starting July 2. In contrast his opponent, a former world No.1, is trying to pick up his first at Queen’s in four appearances at the event.
He served really big in his first three matches, especially his last two. He was serving more than 30 aces in a match. I was expecting that it’s going to end up being either a point or two or even a wrong decision that can make a big difference. I was keeping myself really focused, really composed, patient Marin Cilic
Kyrgios serve was not as potent as in his previous two matches when he delivered 64 equally split between the two. This time he only managed 16 as the Cilic serve proved more effective. He didn’t face a single break-point and lost just 12 points on serve throughout the 86-minute contest.
Meanwhile the Australian had to save two break-points in what was a high-level showdown full of thundering serves boiled which eventually boiled down to two tie-break sets in which the Croatan proved the more composed player.
“From before the match, I knew that Nick was going to be serving big,” Cilic said.
“He served really big in his first three matches, especially his last two. He was serving more than 30 aces in a match. I was expecting that it’s going to end up being either a point or two or even a wrong decision that can make a big difference. I was keeping myself really focused, really composed, patient.”
During the match Kyrgios performed a lewd act with his water bottle which landed the controversial Australian in hot water. Just days after BBC apologised following Kyrgios’ swearing was picked up on the telecast, the broadcaster again had to apologise to viewers for the Aussies’s latest behaviour.
“I’ve played some good tennis, have played some tough opponents,” Kyrgios said.
“I played a lot of three-setters and a lot of tennis. That’s a positive. My body feels pretty good.
“It was a pretty successful couple of weeks, obviously given being out for two and a half months before that.
“I feel confident for Wimbledon, for sure. There’s a lot of grass court players.
“I mean, the grand slams are totally different. Best-of-five sets – there’s a lot more momentum swings.
“The last couple of weeks, I feel pretty untouchable on serve. Today I just didn’t have any chances to break at all.”
In the second semi-final, the 12-time grand slam champion Djokovic continued his strong recent run of form which augurs well for Wimbledon.
It is his first final since Eastbourne last year when he neat Gael Monfils for the title but he wasn’t completely satisfied.
“I’m just self-critical, I guess, at times,” Djokovic said. “I maybe don’t show the satisfaction or exhilaration when maybe it’s expected or vice versa, or other emotions.
“It’s just sometimes, you’re pumped and frustrated. Sometimes you just want to keep it to yourself. I’m just glad to keep this going, and I don’t want to celebrate too much. You know, even though I’m really happy I’m in the finals, I just want to keep building this momentum.”
The in-form Chardy had won 12 of his previous 13 matches but the Frenchman was still left without a win – or even a set – against Djokovic after their 11th career meeting.
Chardy’s best chance to end the streak came when the first set went to a tiebreaker, but a couple of loose shots allowed Djokovic to take control allowing him to romp through the second wit three breaks of serve.
“So for the first part of the match I was not really confident to actually hit the return,” Djokovic admitted. “I was more kind of like chipping and trying to get it back in play, but it wasn’t enough.”
“From 3-3 in the second, I started to hit better and a couple of big returns when I broke his serve, so that’s when I kind of found my rhythm and the footing and to adjust.”
But he could see some positives.
“It feels great, first one since Eastbourne. So it’s been a year. It is a special moment for me,” he added. “Obviously I have been hoping to get here and working hard for it.
“So now that I get a chance to fight for a trophy in one of the biggest tournaments on the grass court season, it means a lot to me.
“I’m really pleased with the way I have played throughout the whole week.”
Cilic however, will be looking to beat Djokovic for only the second time in his career having lost 14 matches against the Serb and, looking ahead to the final, said: “I watched here and there some of his matches. He’s playing well. He’s starting to play better.
“You can see that he’s fighting hard on the court, not letting any points go by him. You can see that mentality is back.”
Djokovic though, is aware that Cilic’s form has improved considerably.
“It’s quite different playing him on grass,” he said. “We have played in Wimbledon, but he’s just a different player, I think.
“In last couple of years he’s been in the form of his life and reaching his highest ranking in a career. And finals of Wimbledon, finals of Australian Open.
“You know, he’s probably been playing the best that he’s ever played. Grass court suits him very well. He just has a big game overall.”
It should prove an intriguing final