Wimbledon Day 11 | Cilic wins battle of big-servers
It was always going to be a battle of strength. That is what one can expect when two players with big serves step out onto Centre Court. In addition, the atmosphere in the hallowed auditorium of tennis provides added pressure, especially when the reward is a place in the Wimbledon final.
Sam came out serving huge, hitting bigMarin Cilic
Sparks should fly.
The problem arises when both players rely on their respective heavy, blistering serves to bludgeon the other off the court and so it proved when Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic emerged to settle the first of the semi-finals.
Both had history at The Championships having met twice before with one of their match entering the record books for being the 2nd longest men’s singles played in Wimbledon history with Cilic winning a 32-game final set after five hours and 31-minutes of play.
Consequently the Centre Court programme was contained to just two matches to allow for another marathon and it looked as if they would need another five-setter to decide whether the Croat or the Yank would earn the right to contest the final.
Fortunately the match lasted just two hours and 56-minutes with Cilic taking the honours 6-7(6) 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5 thereby giving himself the chance of adding another grand slam title to the won he picked up by winning the US Open in 2014.
As the score suggests, the two protagonists delivered a barrage of heavy serves with no service break opportunities arising in the first set.
“Sam came out serving huge, hitting big,” Cilic affirmed later.
Querrey jumped into the lead after a brief delay as play was halted for a woman in the stands to receive some attention but on resumption Cilic made two backhand errors to hand the opening set to his adversary.
Trailing by a set, Cilic managed to negotiate the first break of serve in the second which proved enough for the 28-year-old to level and with the momentum now squarely behind him, took the lead in the third. This time Querrey broke back to force another tie-break which went Cilic’s way.
In the fourth it was Querrey who got the first break only for Cilic to make a good recovery and then going on to capture the big American’s serve for a fourth time in the match to close out the first semi-final.
“After that (first tiebreaker), I was just a little bit better on the return games,” Cilic said later. “I was making him (play more) on his service games.”
Cilic finished with 25 aces and struck 70 winners making just 21 unforced errors. In contrast, Querrey produced half as many winners with 46, hit only 13 aces and made 26 unforced errors.
As Querrey admitted at his post-match press conference, Cillic proved too good on the day. “You know, Marin is just really good,” he said. “I mean, he’s tough on both sides. You know, I kind of felt like he pushed me around a little bit today.
“I had that break in the fourth. When he broke me back, he just played a great game. You know, kind of deflated me a little bit.
“But he just does everything really well.”
As for Cilic himself, he pointed out during his own press conference that he had learnt from all his losses, including his most recent in the Queen’s final.
Today he felt that he had retained his focus well, stating: “I would say my mental toughness was on an extremely high level, considering that both of us played amazing tennis in the first set. The level was absolutely unbelievable from both ends. Then just to come short in that tiebreak, I was 4-1 up, and Sam made a few good points. I was a little bit unlucky on a few challenges. Lost that set.
“But I managed to regroup and felt that mentally in the critical situations, I was really good, even having a break down in that fourth set. I managed to turn it around. I would say I played throughout the match really a high level.”
He is of course trying to become the second Croatian to win Wimbledon thereby emulating Goran Ivanisevic’s triumph of 2001.
“Definitely it’s great for me to be in the final of a Grand Slam again,” the former US Open champion said. “Felt that, you know, my level of tennis in last several weeks is really on a high level, and that has given me a lot of consistency with my mindset.
“You know, now looking ahead, obviously it’s going to be a big match for me. But, you know, it’s great thing that I have already played one Grand Slam final, and I believe it’s going to be easier to prepare.”
However it was pointed out to him that the Big Four had a stranglehold on the Wimbledon title having shared it between them on 14 consecutive occasions.
Winning therefore would be a momentous task when he faces Roger Federer chasing his eight Wimbledon crown.
“It would mean absolutely a world to me,” Cilic said. “ You know, I feel that when I won the US Open in ’14, it just opened so many possibilities in my mind for the rest of my career. To be able to do it again would definitely mean, I would say, even more ’cause I know how much it meant for me to win that first one.
“It would be absolutely a dream come true to win Wimbledon here.”