Croatia’s Marin Cilic stunned second seed Roger Federer in straight sets in the second semi-final match of the 2014 US Open on Saturday.
After a brief rain delay in Flushing Meadows, the No. 14 seed eventually sealed a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win in 1hr; 45mins to advance to his first Grand Slam final on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It’s an amazing day for me,” he said. “I feel amazing. I think it was the best performance ever in my career. I’m extremely happy to be in my first Grand Slam final.”
The 25-year-old becomes the first Croatian to reach a major final since his coach, Goran Ivansevic, won the Wimbledon title in 2001.
Cilic will face No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori, who beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the day’s first semi-final, in Monday’s final showdown. Meaning for the first time since 2005, there comes a Grand Slam final without any of the quartet of men’s singles players in Rafael Nadal, Djkovic, Federer and Andy Murray- the big four.
It also implies a first-time Grand Slam champion will be crowned on Monday. Nishikori has a 5-2 ATP head-to-head lead over Cilic, who however has contested one more final 4 match than the Japanese- having lost to Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the 2010 Australian Open.
17-time Grand Slam winner Federer would have climbed first in the race to the 2014 ATP Tour in London, should he had won, following the Serb’s loss.
Cilic drew the first blood to go up 2-1 in the first set. With Federer serving up 40-0, the number 16 ranked player reeled off six straight points and claimed the resultant break. He prevented the Swiss from breaking back and went on to clinch the set after 28 minutes.
The five-time champion doubled faulted and was immediately pegged behind 0-40 at the start of the second set. After saving two break points, Federer sent his backhand into the net on the third to concede the break. Cilic continued to harp more quality on his play and went on to close the set in similar fashion as the first with his fifth ace.
Federer secured his first break of the match early into the third set.
The world number three has bounced back from a two-set deficit nine times in his career- the last in his last eight win over Gael Monfils on Thursday in Flushing Meadows, but there was not going to be a fairytale revival against Cilic, who was only seeking for his first ever win against the 33-year-old in their sixth meeting.
Cilic immediately got back on serve, and broke back to go 4-3 up. He finished off the contest with a love service hold, firing three aces before sending a backhand winner down the line.
Federer had been aiming to record his 600th match win on hard courts.