Marin Cilic Wins US OpenJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
It was the final that no one could have predicted for the US Open and now tennis has found a new champion in Marin Cilic.
From the moment that Stanislas Wawrinka won the Men’s Singles title at the Australian Open in 2014 it has been suggested that a much anticipated power shift was occurring. The US Open final between two first-time grand slam finalists confirmed that we may be entering an era where champions may come from outside of the Big Four.
In three quick sets, Marin Cilic beat his Japanese opponent Kei Nishikori to become part of a new wave of tennis champions.
After ten years where just a small group of players have dominated elite tennis, the sport is starting to feel more alive and exciting than it has in years.
Cilic has already had several career ups and downs before reaching the top last night. In 2013 it looked as though his tennis career was over for good when he was banned from the sport for drugs.
The controversial suspension occurred after Cilic allegedly took some glucose tablets that a teammate had purchased, although a tribunal found that he did not intend to enhance his performance.
Returning to the sport earlier this year, Cilic was seeded 14th for the US Open yet faced little difficulty in seeing off his opponents. He defeated world number 7 Tomas Berdych in the quarter finals in straight sets, but the biggest upset came when he knocked out Roger Federer in the semis, also in straight sets.
He is the first player from Croatia to reach a grand slam final since Goran Ivanisovic, his coach, won Wimbledon 13 years ago. Ivanisovic gave possibly the most animated reaction when his protégé stumped Nishikori with a quick backhand, winning the game 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
Cilic was overjoyed with his success. “My team have brought something special to me, especially Goran,” he said. “The most important thing he brought to me is joy in tennis, having fun. I think I played the best tennis in my life. For all the other players who work hard this is a sign that it is going to pay off.”
Nishikori disguised his disappointment and congratulated Cilic, saying, “He was playing really well today, I couldn’t play my tennis. It was a really tough loss but I am really happy to be in my first final.”
The Croatian’s win seemed inevitable once the match got underway. As well as being physically more powerful, he held his nerve and dominated the early stages.
Cilic’s win gives him 2,000 ranking points, elevating him to number 9 in the world, whilst Andy Murray now shifts outside the top 10 for the first time in over six years. Murray will face a tough time climbing back inside the top 10 and reaching the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals, particularly as players like Cilic and Nishikori continue to excel on the Tour.