The 2014 edition of the United States Open brought with it a remarkable story that will culminate with the crowing of a brand new Grand Slam champion on Monday afternoon.
Following the ‘Super Saturday’ seeds exodus, which saw both top seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer loss to their respective semi-final opponents Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic. While Nishikori needed four sets to dispatch the 2011 champion, Cilic produced arguably his greatest performance on a tennis court to oust five-time champion Roger Federer in dominant fashion.
With former Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic watching over him, the big-serving Croatian defeated Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first ever Grand Slam final.
“I felt proud today,” Ivanisevic told scrum of reporters following the match. “This is (just) his second (grand-slam) semi-final and to watch him playing against probably the best player ever and giving him a tennis lesson, it’s unbelievable.”
Cilic hit 13 aces and a total of 43 winners in the process. Federer, however, hit just 28 winners to his 17 unforced errors and maintained a low 48% accuracy rate on his second service points won.
“He beat him in every aspect of the game, he was serving well, playing well. Before the match we spoke about how he should play, he stuck with the plan from the first to last point and I can only as a coach be proud as everything is paying off.”
The Croatian showed remarkable poise and confidence throughout the match, and produced some of his best serves during crucial moments.
“The game at 4-3 (in the third set), the game against the wind, he served amazing. So then I said: ‘OK, let him have at least one ace because I knew he’s going to be nervous and because you never know with Roger, he’s never gone. But three aces in a row, is just beautiful. Just beautiful. It’s just like watching myself.”
Ivanisevic revealed that Cilic had been motivated since his loss at the French Open to raise his game even further, and it seems to have peaked in time for the US Open.
“He really worked hard and he started really to play well at the French Open,” Ivanisevic said. “He (kept on) building at Wimbledon and then this is just amazing, the last two matches, this is perfection, you can’t play better than he played today.”