While participating in the US Open 2014 title clash was the biggest career achievement for both of the finalists, it would be Marin Cilic who fulfilled his dream of seizing a Grand Slam title after defeating Kei Nishikori in straight sets. The tenth-seeded Japanese held a positive 5-2 head-to-head record prior to the encounter, but never got close to upsetting his final opponent who did not surrender a set against Berdych and Federer in the previous two rounds.
The surprise championship match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium commenced with the fourteenth seed Croat escaping a break point in the opening game before creating a triple one in the sixth. He eventually went 4-2 up and served out the set by holding to love following a service winner. Self-confident Cilic stole the rival’s server again in the third game of the second and cemented the break after returning from 15-40. He broke once more to move 5-2 ahead, but gifted Kei a break back point with an unsuccessful challenge midway through the rally. The 24-year-old Japanese took advantage of it, yet Cilic soon earned a set point against the serve and put away a fine forehand down-the-line for a double set lead just seventy minutes into the proceedings.
He got the third set underway by smashing three consecutive aces, but had to hold his nerves after he was stretched to deuce. However, the 25-year-old was soon in possession of another pair of break points and got one step closer to taking the New York crown after Nishikori committed a backhand mistake at the end of a long exchange of shots. The Japanese number one nearly clawed back in the seventh game, yet he was denied by the highest-ranked Croat who saved three break points thank to superb serving – he scored a total of 17 aces against Kei’s 2. It was all over a couple of games later when Cilic double faulted on the first championship point, but converted in the ensuing rally with a wonderful backhand cross court winner. He won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in less than two hours of predominantly baseline tennis to become the second Croatian male player to lift a Grand Slam trophy after his current coach Goran Ivanisevic beat Pat Rafter in a memorable Wimbledon 2001 final.