Monday, 29 January 2018

Federer beats Cilic - great AO finale

The last match on RLA and the final match for the 2018 Australian Open guaranteed much and delivered more.

The two combatants were Marin Cilic (6), 2014 US Open champion and 2017 Wimbledon finalist, and a promising Swiss player by the name of Federer. Promising to win a 20th Grand Slam title. Marin would be his first real test of the past fortnight.

Cilic won the toss but lost his first service game. It was typical Roger.

At 30-15 Cilic looked comfortable, but when he hit a loose backhand Federer saw an opening and shot a winning backhand setting up a break point which was enough to win him the game.

Two forehand winners signalled that Roger was serious and the love game took him to 2-0.

A scary Swiss magician across the net was spooking Cilic and he made a mess of his next service game, littering it with mistakes and falling behind 0-3.

Federer confirmed his ideal start, forcing Cilic into error on his backhand twice and throwing in a winner for good measure. 4-0.

An ace and winning backhand finally saw Marin on the scoreboard, but Roger simply replied with a love game to take him a game away from the first set.

Cilic served his first love game, complete with two aces, before Federer’s two aces at 5-2 brought him two set points, the first one converted and the Roger led 6-2.

The Swiss fast start may have worried most players into a straight sets loss, but Cilic had begun to find his range in the latter stages of the set and was more competitive.

The proof was Cilic leading 1-0 and with two break points on the Federer serve in the second set. Federer did his normal thing and solved the problem with an ace and winning backhand. He levelled at 1-1.

Then Cilic was taken from 40-15 to break point down. He saved it but wasted three game points before ultimately holding a crucial serve.

Roger held serve swiftly and Marin saved another break point to hold and lead 3-2.

The next three games saw only three points in total go against serve and it was 4-4.

Cilic saved a break point with an ace, and sealed a 5-4 lead with a winning forehand.

A Federer double fault gave Cilic set point but it was squashed and 5-5 was reached.

Two successive love games ensured a tie break came quickly.

The tie break reached 4-4 and Cilic won the next point on his serve.

Two set points arrived when he hit a forehand winner on one of Federer’s serves. Despite a Swiss ace, Cilic won the tie break with another forehand winner.

The set was Croatian and the match was even 2-6 7-6(5).

An angry Roger began set three with a pair of aces and led 1-0.

Cilic levelled before the next couple of aces helped deliver us to 2-1.

A Croatian ace and winning forehand and 2-2.

Federer, at 3-2, broke thanks to errors from Cilic, and the predictable two aces in the next game guided him to 5-2.

Cilic’s love game only motivated Federer to replicate, but his included three set points, and Roger now led 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3.

Cilic began set four with an ace and sat at 30-0.

He proceeded to fire four unforced errors and drop serve.

Federer held serve, almost tripping over Cilic errors littering RLA.

A Croatian double fault gave Federer another break point to which a forehand winner and and ace were perfect responses.

Cilic held for 1-2.

2-3 came and went with no drama and then the shock - Cilic broke Federer to love and the set was back on serve.

Cilic once more reacted to a break point with a winner and an ace to lead 4-3.

The eighth game was pivotal. Federer found himself down two break points all due to errors. Those were saved, no winners involved. A game point was saved, thankfully by a forehand winner from Cilic.

A Federer ace gave him another game point but two winners from the next three points achieved the service break. 5-3 Cilic.

A Cilic love game and the match was square 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6.

With Federer taken to deuce three times in the opening game of the deciding fifth set, and facing two break points, Cilic was looking good.

However Federer saved those break points and Cilic crumbled after that.

From 40-30, Cilic served a double fault surrounded by unforced errors to be down 2-0.

Two aces in a love game and he still had a chance at 1-3.

Roger had other ideas though, and lost just one more point to win the title 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Meritorious performance from Marin Cilic over the fortnight and especially for forcing a five set final which was so special.

But this was another historic moment for Roger Federer.

He equaled the record of 6 Australian Open titles held by Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic.

He also reached 20 Grand Slam titles - remarkable, considering he had been stuck on 17 from Wimbledon 2012 to Aus Open 2017.

Roger has won three of the last five in his mid thirties.

Who knows when it will stop - while Roland Garros maybe a stretch, Wimbledon awaits.

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