Monday’s night match features world number one, Novak Djokovic up against the US Open champion, Marin Cilic. Djokovic was in stunning form in Paris. He looked focused and motivated on court despite the recent birth of his first child and won the title without dropping a set. It’s been another impressive year for Djokovic, the highlight being a second Wimbledon title. It was a huge win for Djokovic as he had struggled to deliver in the crucial moments of big matches for the last year or two. He’s had a few wobbles since Wimbledon with early losses in Canada and Cincy, but he comes into London as the clear favourite.
Cilic was the only top eight player to miss Paris. He was forced to pull out with an arm injury, but had already clinched his place in London by virtue of the Grand Slam title. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that Marin Cilic is a Grand Slam champion! Cilic showed nerves of steel to break new ground at a Grand Slam with straight set wins over Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori. Even without the US Open, Cilic has had a good year. He reached three consecutive finals in February, winning two titles in Zagreb and Delray Beach, and also reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. After a quiet Asian swing, Cilic won his fourth title of the year in Moscow, which was his last appearance on the ATP tour.
Djokovic leads the H2H with Cilic 10-0; the pair have played three times in 2014 with Cilic offering resistance in all three clashes. At Indian Wells, Cilic demonstrated why he can be such a lethal player, racing to win the first set, 6-1. In the same match, he also showed his mental vulnerabilities, as Djokovic won the next two sets, 6-2 and 6-3. Cilic won a set against Djokovic in the third round of Roland Garros and gave the eventual champion at Wimbledon a real scare in the quarter-finals, pushing the Serb to five sets; that was an odd match because it felt like Cilic was in control after winning the third set but he wasn’t able to extend the momentum, losing the last two sets rather tamely in a 6-1 3-6 6-7(4) 6-2 6-2 loss. Cilic has the game to threaten Djokovic when he’s on song, but it is unlikely he will have the patience to be able to produce this tennis to defeat an in-form Djokovic. I’m hoping this could be a high quality match if a half-decent Cilic shows up…
Prediction: Djokovic d. Cilic in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)