New York - Marin Cilic toppled sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4,
7-6 (7/4) on Thursday to reach the US Open semi-finals.
The 14th seed becomes the first Croatian since Goran Ivanisevic in 1996 to
reach the final four at Flushing Meadows, and he pulled off the upset under the
watchful eye of Ivanisevic, now his coach.
Cilic, who missed last year's US Open as he sat out a doping ban, pounded 19
aces past Berdych, recovering an early break in the third to force the decider.
"It was very tricky with the conditions," Cilic said. "Very
gusty - for both of us.
"We are big guys, it's not easy to deal with the wind and the ball
moving in the air. I felt that I was using the wind a bit better today."
Cilic has matched his best Grand Slam performance - a semi-final run at
Australia in 2010.
"I had tough times the last couple of years and I'm really happy that
things are working out with my team," he said.
Cilic wasted no time taking control, breaking Berdych in the opening game
and again for a 4-1 led in the first as the Czech struggled to get his big
"Just considering the conditions and the opening of the match went in
my side, that sort of relaxed me a bit more. I felt that I was in the driving
seat and that Tomas was all the time catching me and I was serving good in the
right moments," Cilic said.
Berdych, meanwhile, said he served "horribly" and he was unable to
make inroads on Cilic's serve.
He broke back, but that was the only break point he'd muster in the first
two sets, and Cilic won the next two games for a one-set lead after just 28
"It was not the way to start the match like that," Berdych said.
"Then obviously it was really tough to catch up.
"Today was definitely not the day I wanted to have."
The Croatian then broke to open the second - the four breaks matching the
total surrendered by Berdych in the 64 service games of his first four matches.
Cilic dropped just three points on his serve in the second set - two of
them in the final game.
He had delivered three straight aces to give himself triple set point, then
promptly double-faulted. A backhand into the net cost him another chance, but
he was two-sets up after Berdych fired a service return long on the next.
But Berdych found his feet in the third, breaking in the second to take a
Serving at 4-2, he thought he had reached a drop shot in time and was
incensed when the chair umpire judged the ball bounced twice.
"Have you ever had a racquet in your hand? Never!" Berdych fumed.
"It's the worst call I ever had."
He went on to drop his serve, and was still railing during the changeover,
but they went from there to the tiebreaker.
Cilic gave himself a match point with an ace, and polished it off with a
forehand winner, posting his second straight Grand Slam win over Berdych after
ousting the Czech from Wimbledon in the third round
on Thursday from the 11th day of the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament
of 2014 (x denotes seeded player):
Marin Cilic (CRO x14) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) 6-2, 6-4,
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Gael Monfils (FRA x20) 4-6, 3-6,
6-4, 7-5, 6-2
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA/USA x1) bt Scott Lipsky/Rajeev Ram
(USA/USA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP/ESP x11) bt Ivan
Dodig/Marcelo Melo (CRO/BRA x4) 6-4, 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS x4) bt Kimiko
Date-Krumm/Barbora Zahlavova Strychova (JPN/CZE) 7-5, 6-3
Martina Hingis/Flavia Pennetta (SUI/ITA) bt Cara Black/Sania
Mirza (ZIM/IND x3) 6-2, 6-4