I had predicted Federer to lose again, just as i had incorrectly done so for the QF with Berdych and the SF with Chung.
I had become convinced that – unless he again replicated last year’s unbelievable form – that his age would finally become a factor, and we could be assured that he is in fact of this earth.
I still maintain that Federer hasn’t nearly reached the level of play from 12 months ago, and had Cilic maintained his own best form today then Roger would have needed to produce some 2017 magic to prevail.
As it happened, the Croat simply couldn’t stay in the moment mentally – desperately nervous in the non-event that was the first set and after dominating for large parts of the match after that, then crumbled again come the crunch and final set.
What DID see the now 20 time major champion through was his staying power physically and mentally with sprinklings of his trademark class and quality. Such was the power and accuracy on show by his opponent that Federer was under immense pressure many times today. Cilic gifted him many points true, but elsewhere Federer stayed strong, steely and somehow in contention – even with a paltry 36% first serve percentage all match.
A lot has been made this fortnight of the favourable conditions for the Swiss, at the detriment of everyone else. For the bitter few who dislike him, there was some justifiable ammunition with the closing of the roof tonight. It is an outdoor event and should’ve been treated as such.
Whilst his peers nurse injuries, Roger’s playing style has seen him prevail – whether that will translate to continued success all season remains to be seen, certainly the likes of Cilic have the youth and the power to have a say. Just need to sort out things mentally – that will be easier as time goes on.
Images originally from ausopen.com