Marin Cilic beats Roger Federer to reach US Open final

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
Marin Cilic
US Open Men's Final, Flushing Meadows
Date: Monday, 8 September Time: 22:00 BST Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, online, tablets, mobiles and the BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Marin Cilic knocked out five-time champion Roger Federer to reach the US Open final on a day of shocks at Flushing Meadows.

The Croat, seeded 14th, powered through 6-3 6-4 6-4 to move into his first Grand Slam final.

There the 25-year-old will face Japan's Kei Nishikori, who earlier upset world number one Novak Djokovic.

It will be the first Grand Slam final without Federer, Djokovic or Rafael Nadal since the 2005 Australian Open.

"It's just an amazing day for me," said Cilic.

"To be able to play like this I never dreamed of and I think today was my best performance ever in my career.

BBC Sport tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
"This was an extraordinary double for the underdog. If Cilic's victory over Federer - who had shown signs of frailty in his narrow quarter-final win - did not come as a complete surprise, Nishikori's triumph defied logic.
"At the start of the third set, the Japanese wore the look of a man who wanted to go for a quiet lie down. Instead, with fuel levels running low after two consecutive five set matches, he went on the attack - thrillingly and brilliantly - and Djokovic couldn't respond in the way we are used to.
"Cilic, full of the belief instilled in him by coach Goran Ivanisevic, hit the ball cleanly and powerfully and - unlike Monfils - gave Federer no chance to launch a comeback at the end of an unforgettable day."

"Considering also that even when I was a set up and break up, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back.

"It wasn't easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today, to get some free points to breathe a little bit easier. It was working perfectly."

Cilic was playing in only his second major semi-final and had a 0-5 record against Federer - yet the 6ft 6in Croat dominated his illustrious opponent.

The world number 15 broke serve four times, hit 43 winners and faced just two break points as he left the 17-time Grand Slam champion with little to work off.

And with the majority of rallies lasting four shots or fewer, it was the kind of match their respective coaches - Stefan Edberg on Federer's side and Goran Ivanisevic with Cilic - would have recognised from their playing days.

After the heat and humidity of the first semi-final, the second was delayed by rain for an hour and got under way in blustery, overcast conditions.

Match stats
Marin CilicRoger Federer
1Double faults1
561st serve %61
871st serve win %71
562nd serve win %48
23Unforced errors17
4/8Break points won1/2
Match time: 1hr 45mins

Cilic was aggressive from the outset, coming back from 40-0 down to break in game three and saving a break point in the following game, before wrapping up the set in 28 minutes of clinical tennis.

A Federer double fault and a missed forehand offered Cilic three break points early in the second, the third of which he converted with a heavy return the Swiss could not handle.

In a little over an hour, the Croat was two sets up and on course to provide the second upset of a remarkable day.

Federer, 33, had recovered from two sets down in his previous match against Gael Monfils, and the 22,000 spectators in Arthur Ashe Stadium began to believe a repeat was possible when he swept a backhand winner to finally break for 2-0 in the third set.

Tennis expert Jeff Tarango on 5 live sports extra
"Cilic played lights-out tennis from the beginning until the end. He just played his dream match. Roger didn't play that badly, he just got beat, overpowered.
"Is this the beginning of the end of the big four? I don't think so. I think this will refuel them to come back with vengeance. Champions like that tend to come back with a little venom.
"Has Roger got a Grand Slam win left in him? I think he will win next year's Wimbledon. I think he thought it was on his racquet. If you ask the locker room will he win it in the next three years I think they would all say yes."

Cilic simply resumed the barrage on return, however, thumping a backhand winner of his own to wipe out the deficit immediately.

Try as he might, there was no escape route available to Federer this time.

Cilic got the decisive break with a stinging forehand to lead 4-3, and served out the victory with three aces and his seventh backhand winner of the day.

"I really felt like I could win this tournament," said Federer. "Obviously that's not going to happen. That's why there is always disappointment.

"I just think conditions were fast, he served great. It was one of those matches like old school tennis. It was just like full swing from all sides: forehand, backhand, serve, return. No holding back from his side.

"I just couldn't hang with him for long enough to create some doubts in his mind. I didn't play good enough overall. That's the bottom line.

"I think when a match is like this I think you can actually move on very quickly."

Heavy rain delayed play
Heavy rain after the first semi-final delayed the start of the match
Marin Cilic
Cilic took control after breaking Federer's serve in the fourth game of the opening set
Roger Federer
Federer lost his serve again in the first game of the second set
Marin Cilic
Cilic hit three aces in the final game to reach his first Grand Slam final

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