New York - Croatia's Marin Cilic overwhelmed 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer
6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to book an unlikely US Open final against Japan's Kei
His comprehensive triumph over the Swiss great came hours after Nishikori
stunned world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 as the two set
up the first men's Grand Slam final in more than nine years in which Federer,
Djokovic or Rafael Nadal failed to figure.
The 14th-seeded Cilic, who missed last year's US Open as he served a doping
ban, reached his first Grand Slam final, denying the 33-year-old Federer's
dream of a sixth title in Flushing Meadows.
The Swiss second seed, bidding to become the oldest winner of a Grand Slam
title in more than 40 years, won five straight titles from 2004-2008. He was
vying to reach a seventh final in New York but his first since 2009.
Instead, he was out-played by the 25-year-old Cilic, ranked 16th in the
world, whose only prior appearance in a major semi-final was at the 2010
Cilic seized the first two sets in just 66 minutes, breaking Federer once in
Federer had come from two sets to love down and saved two match points in
his quarter-final win over Gael Monfils, but there would be no astounding
escape this time.
He broke Cilic for a 2-0 lead in the third set - to the furious approval of
the partisan Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
But Cilic immediately regained the break, firing yet another booming
forehand to the baseline that Federer could only bat into the net.
Federer was fighting for his life in the seventh game, after another
forehand into the alley gave Cilic a break chance.
An unreturnable serve from the Swiss great staved off the danger only
momentarily, and Cilic delivered a stinging service return to gain another
chance that he converted for a 4-3 lead.
Cilic held with authority, closing the next game with three unreturnable
serves to lead 5-3.
Federer responded with a love game of his own, but Cilic wouldn't be denied.
With three aces he gave himself triple match point, and a backhand winner
sealed the triumph after just an hour and 45 minutes.
"To be able to play like this, I never dreamed of," said Cilic.
"I think today was just the best performance ever in my career."
He's the first Croatian to reach a Grand Slam final since Goran Ivanisevic,
now Cilic's coach, won Wimbledon in 2001.
The last Grand Slam final from which Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were all
excluded was the 2005 Australian Open title match between Marat Safin and
Lleyton Hewitt.Results on Saturday from the 13th day of the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of 2014 (x denotes seeded player):
Marin Cilic (CRO x14) bt Roger Federer (SUI x2) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN x10) bt Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3