Cilic Stops Murray to Win First Masters Title in Cincinnati

Greetings. I hope everyone enjoyed the tennis in Cincinnati this week. I thought it was quite an interesting week even though my favorite Djokovic was absent. It made the tournament more open especially with the top players who went deep in the Olympics tiring and losing early as well.

They included Nadal and Nishikori who both lost in the third round against Coric and Tomic respectively. Nishikori lost in two tiebreaks but Nadal looked especially lackluster as Coric made short work of him 6-1, 6-3.

It was a good week for Coric who made quarterfinals of a Masters event for the first time but unfortunately, he had to retire in his match with Cilic. Johnson also had a solid run to the quarterfinals before falling to Dimitrov and he is now the top-ranked American at #21.

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As for Dimitrov, he won four consecutive matches for the first time since making the Wimbledon semis in 2014 when he made the semis in Cincy. So he will feel very happy with his week despite losing 6-4, 3-6, 5-7 to Cilic after Cilic served at only 44% first serves.

Thiem made quarterfinals as well where his fast court game got exposed by Raonic who defeated him 6-3, 6-4. Thiem will never be a great fast court player but fortunately for him, there are very few fast courts around these days.

In the other quarterfinal, Murray defeated Tomic 6-4, 6-4. And in the top half semis, Murray continued to look impressive when he defeated Raonic 6-3, 6-3 and in the process, he exposed Raonic’s weak backhand.

  • The Final

So we were all set for a final between Murray and Cilic with Murray the overwhelming favorite. I was quite impressed with Murray throughout the week who was now on a 22-match winning streak and didn’t drop a set throughout the week.

It looked like he had taken over from Djokovic because the best someone did against him in a set was 6-4. I was impressed but as a Djokovic fan, I was concerned as well. Murray came from Rio where he won the gold medal the week before and didn’t look bothered at all in Cincy while players like Nadal and Nishikori fell early.

To add to that he played the first semi-final which started late at 7pm local time which meant that Cilic wouldn’t get much rest after a tough battle against Dimitrov. It was also Cilic’s first Masters final.

Cilic did well at the beginning of the match, however, to get over the nerves of a first Masters final and then did even better by breaking Murray twice to go up 5-2 and serve for the first set.

Murray got one break back but Cilic had no problem holding serve the second time to win the first set 6-4. It was ‘match on’. At the start of the second set, you could sense urgency from Murray as he began with those annoying ‘Come on!’ utterances again.

It is his way of trying to intimidate his opponent the same way Nadal tries to intimidate with those over the top fist pumps. Cilic handled it well who responded with a loud ‘Come on!’ of his own whenever he won a big point.

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It really is the easiest thing to counter but I guess some pros are too PR conscious these days and refrain from doing so. What a joke! That said, Cilic almost did choke at 5-5 and 40-15 on Murray’s serve.

He missed a shocker of a forehand and I thought here comes Choker Cilic again just like he did at Wimbledon against Federer and many times before. He missed three break points in that game but fortunately he eventually took advantage of one and got the break.

I think he then served out the match with relative ease to win 6-4, 7-5.

  • Conclusions

Congrats to Cilic then on his first Masters title in his first Masters final against someone who seemed unstoppable. In the end, it was a case of an attacking player who was on his game hitting a defensive player off the court.

Sure, tiredness could have played a part for Murray but he didn’t look bothered at all through the week and Cilic was the one who played the second semi that went deep into a third set.

We have seen this kind of thing happen plenty of times with Nadal as well where he gets hit off the court by a big hitter who is on his game. Nadal and Murray are very similar in certain respects.

They are predominantly defensive players which can backfire when they play against these types of opponents. You don’t see this as much with Federer or Djokovic. Some people think Djokovic is also a defensive player but he if an offensive player in many ways.

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This was a couple of days ago so Murray will be at 22

Most importantly, he turns defense into offense much better than Nadal or Murray. Nadal and Murray tend to be more negative in their approach which is why something like today can happen.

There is a subtle difference between what they do in defense and what Djokovic does in defense which I think is important to understand. Murray has become less negative since Lendl came back but today he was exposed.

It’s been a great run from him anyway and he certainly has a shot at winning the US Open again. Today’s loss just puts some doubt in my mind again. Up until the final, he looked very threatening to Djokovic.

You could even say he looked like the favorite for the US Open. But you can’t just write Djokovic off who had a couple of losses. That’s nothing. It’s just that expectations are huge for him after what he achieved.

I think skipping Cincy was the right decision even though it potentially cost him the career Masters. I hear he still has some problems with his left wrist and his body and mind needed rest from all the tennis.

Hopefully, he just comes back and shuts down all this Murray hype with a third US Open title but I am just looking forward to having him back again. Even as a fan, I was getting bored of his dominance so for me this break was also a good thing.

I know the hardcore fans can never understand that but I think for tennis it is also good to see new faces and someone else winning big titles even if it is Murray. Yeah, I’m not a fan but he also provides Djokovic with a new challenge.

Well, the US Open is only one week away now and I’m grateful that they will have a roof this year because judging from all the rain in Cincy we will have some more in New York.

I am very much looking forward to the final slam of 2016 and I will be back with a draw post over the weekend. Let me know what you think!

  • Highlights

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Posted in Cincinatti.

One Comment

  1. Murray now is GOAT. 2 consecutive gold medals. No one in the history of mens tennis has done that. Congrats Murray, now YOU are the greatest of all time. Or is it Cilic, because he beat the GOAT a week later. LOL, G

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