LONDON (AP) — Marin Cilic has gone from Queen’s Club runner-up 12 months ago to being the 2018 champion. Now he wants to do the same at Wimbledon.
The top-seeded Croat saved match point on his way to defeating Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the final on Sunday to claim his second title at the west London tournament.
Cilic was on the losing end of a similar result in last year’s final, as he spurned a match point in a loss to Feliciano Lopez, before greater disappointment followed as he lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
Cilic said he was “feeling really confident about Wimbledon,” which starts July 2. “Hopefully,” said Cilic of a potential double grass-court triumph. “You know, if those things go like that every single time, that would be great.”
Although it was Djokovic’s first final in just short of a year, Cilic faced a formidable challenge as the Serb produced the kind of tennis that helped him amass 12 Grand Slam titles.
Having saved six break points, Djokovic struck with the first chance of his own to clinch a draining 67-minute first set, before a reversal of fortunes in the second.
The three-time Wimbledon champion wasted an early opportunity to break before Cilic saved a match point at 4-5 and then won six points from 4-1 down in the tiebreaker to level the match.
Despite soaring temperatures, neither player backed off in a tense deciding set, with Cilic finally earning the first break point opportunities in the eighth game.
Djokovic saved the first but Cilic quickly earned a second with the shot of the match, a dipping forehand passing shot up the line, and Djokovic then wilted with a tame backhand into the net.
Cilic’s 2012 Queen’s Club triumph came in bizarre circumstances as David Nalbandian was disqualified for injuring a line judge, but this time he finished in style, producing a nerveless service game to seal victory in just under three hours.
“I felt that when I’m going to raise my level of the serving, I’m going to be the one who can even take control of the match,” Cilic said.
Despite a rare grass-court defeat to Borna Coric in the final at Halle, Germany, earlier on Sunday, Cilic isn’t counting on any let up from Federer.
“I think Roger’s motivational level is just slightly better and higher on Grand Slams,” said Cilic, “and you can see that throughout so many years that he’s been showing the best tennis at Grand Slam levels.”