US Open: Nishikori v Cilic

Jake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016

After not one but two shock upsets at the US Open semi-finals this weekend, it will be Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic taking to the court for this year’s final.

Saturday was a day of surprises at Flushing Meadows with the two underdogs both knocking out former title-holders in the semis to reach the final for the first time.

Kei Nishikori stunned spectators when he defeated Novak Djokovic to become the first ever Japanese Grand Slam singles finalist. The 10th seed beat the world’s best player in four sets (6-4 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3) in a remarkable performance.

Djokovic admitted after the match that he was off his game, commenting, “other than the second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be. A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. I just wasn’t myself.”

Meanwhile Marin Cilic, seeded just 14th in the competition, took on five-time champion Roger Federer, defeating him in a stunning three sets (6-3 6-4 6-4).

“It’s just an amazing day for me,” said Cilic. “To be able to play like this I never dreamed of and I think today was my best performance ever in my career.”

For the Croat this was only his second major semi-final and the first time he had beaten Roger Federer in six matches.

Cilic and Nishikori will face one another in a final that no one could have predicted, heralding a new era in men’s tennis.

When Stan Warinka won the Australian Open in Melbourne this year he proved for the first time in four years that someone other than Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray could win a Grand Slam.

With Cilic and Nishikori set to play the final tonight, we are already guaranteed another first-time Grand Slam winner.

Both finalists have been training with former Grand Slam winners which is thought to have contributed to their success in the US Open this year. Cilic credits his coach Goran Ivanisevic with helping to improve his mind-set on the court.

Nishikori trains with 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang who has helped him to overcome the intimidation he felt when playing Grand Slam winners.

Both players have already proven their skill and stamina throughout the competition so it’s hard to pick a winner at this point. With a five-setter likely on the cards, this faceoff will be about endurance and who can remain the most focused on the court.

Paddy Power has odds on a Nishikori victory at 9/10, although Cilic is priced just behind at 19/20. This game could go either way, but Nishikori has beaten Cilic in all three of their last meetings so the world number 8 will again have the edge this time round against his more experienced rival.