Cilic crushes Nishikori to claim U.S. Open title
Marin Cilic celebrates recording match point against Kei Nishikori in the men's singles final of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports)
With the win, 14th seed Cilic became the first Croatian to win one of the sport’s four grand slam championships since his coach Goran Ivanisevic celebrated a Wimbledon victory in 2001.
The final marked the first time since the 2005 Australian Open that at least one of tennis’ big three of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer was not playing for the title.
While both men were playing in their first grand slam final it was Nishikori who displayed more jitters as Cilic quickly found his range and unloaded on his helpless opponent by blasting 17 aces to Nishikori’s two.
“It’s a really tough loss but I’m really happy coming to my first final,” said Nishikori, who appeared to run out of gas after beating three consecutive top-10 opponents and having to endure a pair of five-setters. “Sorry I couldn’t get a trophy today but for sure next time.
Cilic had Nishikori on the back foot from start to finish, speeding through the opening set in 33 minutes.
The 14th seed, using his huge wingspan to reach out and bash forehands across court and a booming serve to score easy points, again had an early break in the second and added another to go up 5-2.
With a maiden grand slam within sight, Cilic kept his foot on the gas and grabbed an early break in the third. The only nerves Cilic showed came when he double faulted on his first match point.
“Everything I was working for and dreaming came today and I feel for all the other players that are working hard, I think this is a big sign, a big hope that if you are working hard things are going to pay off.” (Editing by Frank Pingue)