When Kei Nishikori completed his staggering upset victory over world No. 1 and 2011 champion Novak Djokovic, many fans and pundits predicted it to be smooth sailing for Roger Federer.
Then along came Marin Cilic.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion failed to take advantage of his golden opportunity to extend his Major record when he fell to big-serving Croat Marin Cilic in straight set in the semi-final round of the US Open. It was a surprising upset given the result that had taken place less than three hours prior in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
While Federer doubts the loss will burden him for long, he would have loved to add a coveted 18th Grand Slam title to his trophy cabinet.
“I mean, not to my life,” Federer said regarding his quest for an 18th Major title. “I don’t need it to be more happy or anything. But the moment itself, it would mean a lot, you know. I keep working hard to win titles on the tour, not just No. 18. I was very happy to get to No. 80 the other week, so that was huge for me.
“I’ll give it a go again in Australia; hope to be healthy there. I enjoy playing there. It’s been one of my most consistent slams. I hope to, you know, get another chance at it. I can’t do more than try really hard, which I’m doing.”
Cilic, who later proclaimed his performance the best of his career, defeated Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and 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.
“I think Marin played great,” Federer explained. “I maybe didn’t catch my best day, but I think that was pretty much it in a nutshell. If that’s what you mean.
“I wasn’t as confident this time around, because Marin played more aggressive. He was serving huge. From that standpoint I knew that margins were slim, you know, even though I still believed in my chance. The reaction was there. I did break straight back like I did with Monfils, as well, but I knew probably this comeback would be tougher just because of the risk he was taking and, you know, how big he was serving really.”
Speaking about the upcoming final between Cilic and Kei Nishikori, Federer admit he was at a lose when predicting a favourite for that encounter.
“It’s interesting situation, you know, where you have two players who have never been in a Grand Slam final before and in a way they have nothing to lose,” he said. “Who is the favorite? Nobody really knows. From that standpoint I think it’s quite an interesting situation. I think Kei played amazing tennis, you know, this tournament. And Marin now, as well.
“I don’t know who is the favorite really going in. That’s why you’ve got to watch it.”