Cilic wins battle of big hitters

Regardless of who he meets in tomorrow's final, Marian Cilic says he is focused on playing his own game.
Regardless of who he meets in tomorrow's final, Marian Cilic says he is focused on playing his own game.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Croat keeps his cool to overcome confident American Querrey and reach the final

LONDON • Marin Cilic edged out Sam Querrey 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 in a big-hitting battle to reach his first Wimbledon final yesterday.

The Croat kept his cool in a closely fought match against a cool, confident opponent.

The difference came on their second serves, where Querrey won less than half of the points (26 of 54) compared to two-thirds for Cilic (28 of 42).

Cilic will face the winner of the second semi-final between Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych.

"I feel unbelievable, especially the way this tournament has unfolded. From the first round I was playing really great tennis," said Cilic.

"Sam came out serving huge, hitting big. He didn't seem tight at all, but that pushed me to play big tennis towards the end.

"(The final) will definitely be a huge match whoever I play. Tomas is playing really well as well, and Roger is playing the best tennis of his career.

"But for me it's about playing my own tennis and focusing on my own game."

In today's women's final, Venus Williams, unbowed by age and illness, will bid to make history by becoming the oldest Grand Slam champion when she takes on Garbine Muguruza.

At 37, an age when her contemporaries have long since retired, Williams is playing some of the best tennis of her career and she can cap her remarkable renaissance on Centre Court.

Back in the All England Club final after an eight-year absence, the world No. 11 hopes to become both the oldest Wimbledon and Grand Slam winner since the Open era began in 1968.

Earning a sixth Wimbledon title, nine years after she last lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish, must have seemed like an impossible dream for her when she battled an autoimmune disease that left her fatigued and threatened to force her out of tennis.

Yet, in the twilight of her career, she has hit a rich vein of form over the past 12 months.

She was Australian Open runner-up in January to sister Serena and has been playing steadily despite being involved in a car crash in Florida last month that led to the death of an elderly man.

"There's definitely a lot of ups and downs," she said. "I just try to hold my head up high, no matter what is happening in life.

"I have one more match that I'd like to win. But I like to take courage in the fact that I've been playing well this tournament."

Inspired by her decision to hire compatriot Conchita Martinez as her coach for Wimbledon, Muguruza has enjoyed a revival of her own over the last fortnight.

Since winning her maiden Grand Slam title last year, she had endured a slump as her ranking dropped out of the top 10.

Martinez became the first, and so far only, Spanish woman to win Wimbledon in 1994 and her words of wisdom have guided Muguruza to her third Grand Slam final.

Beating in-form Venus in their first meeting on grass will be her toughest test, but the Spanish 14th seed is convinced she can emulate her coach's memorable triumph.

"All the names that I read on the honours board, I know all of them. For the last years, you see a lot of Williams surname," she said.

"So I look forward to putting a Spanish name back there."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

WIMBLEDON
Women's singles final: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Cilic wins battle of big hitters'. Print Edition | Subscribe