The final Grand Slam of 2014 for the men will be contested between Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic. SERIOUSLY. This will be the first Grand Slam final since the 2005 Australian Open not to feature one of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. It’s also the first Grand Slam final since the 2002 French Open to not feature a player seeded in the top eight. I know that Djokovic and Federer fans probably won’t be feeling too happy about this but being a neutral, I think it’s an awesome storyline. Draw predictions have all been chucked into a blender, but I think it’s GREAT. The ATP needed a shake-up and this will be a fascinating final. The dynamics of who will cope best, who will win their first Grand Slam(!!!!!). I’m well on board for this.
Kei has been awesome this fortnight and even more so, because of his US Open preparations. Before the start of the US Open, Kei said this….
I don’t know if I will be able to get through the first round.
Nishikori’s fitness was a real concern heading into the US Open as he was forced to pull out of Toronto and Cincy after having a cyst removed from his right toe. For more quotes from Nishikori before the tournament see HERE. After 16 hours and 26 minutes on court and with consecutive victories over Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, Nishikori is into a first Grand Slam final. In the semi-finals, Nishikori defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets, 6-4 1-6 7-6(4) 6-3. After losing the second set and facing break points early on in the third set, it looked like Djokovic might run away with it. The conditions for this match were brutal and most of the talk centered around Nishikori. However, in the end, it looked like Djokovic was the one who was struggling. I don’t want to take anything away from Nishikori, who played another superb match. Japan must be going crazy.
I have to admit I laughed when I saw the results of the Djokovic v Nishikori poll from my semi-final post. My post got traction on the forums of Nishikori’s website. In the most voted poll in Moo’s Tennis Blog history, it concluded with 70% going for Nishikori… the Kei fans were rewarded for their loyalty!
Cilic played the match of his life as he ousted Roger Federer in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-4. In terms of upsets, I’d say Cilic over Federer was the more surprising semi-final simply for the scoreline. Cilic played a sensational match. In the first set, Roger played very well, but just was outplayed. Cilic didn’t play as well in sets two and three, and Roger had a few opportunities. Most notably, he was unable to consolidate a break in the third set. In fact, the match was much like Cilic’s victory over Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. I found myself cheering for Cilic with the exhausting pro-Federer crowd. Seriously, at least give some applause for Cilic winners or not cheer his errors. It winds me up, but it happens everywhere around the world.
Nishikori and Cilic have played each other seven times with Nishikori leading the H2H 5-2; Nishikori has won their last three encounters, which has included two matches in 2014. Nishikori won in Barcelona, en route to the title, with a dominant 6-1 6-3 victory and at the start of the year too in Brisbane, 6-4 5-7 6-2. Nishikori’s fitness remains an issue. However…
Few expected him to beat Raonic. He won.
Few expected him to beat Wawrinka. He won.
Few expected him to beat Djokovic. HE WON.
Nishikori has been proving everyone wrong this week. The semi-final in exhausting conditions will have likely taken something out of him. Thankfully for Kei, it was only four sets and he gets another day off before the final on Monday evening. Cilic’s performance against Federer was really something and if he delivers that kind of showing again, he’s the favourite. I think Cilic’s best beats Nishikori’s best right now, but I have question marks as to whether Cilic can produce that form in the final. He’s come a long way mentally, but i’d still have more confidence in Nishikori delivering over Cilic. There will be people who aren’t interested because it doesn’t feature a Federer or a Djokovic, but i’m well on board with this final. These guys won’t be around forever and the ATP needs the up-and-comers to step up. And they have.
Please be good.
Or at least, please be entertaining.
Prediction: Nishikori d. Cilic in 5 sets
Is anyone else as excited as me? Or have you lost interest? Either way, i’d love to hear from you!