Marin Cilic hopes 2014 US Open success inspires other players

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
US Open win has changed my life - Cilic

Croatia's Marin Cilic believes his US Open victory could inspire other players to break into the game's elite.

The world number 16 beat Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-3 6-3 to become the lowest-ranked major champion for 10 years.

"I feel it's very inspirational for all the other players out there that are working hard and sometimes losing motivation," said Cilic.

"I would definitely feel much stronger if I would see somebody like me accomplish things like this."

Cilic beat sixth seed Tomas Berdych, five-time champion Roger Federer and 10th seed Nishikori without dropping a set.

Magic Marin
At 16 in the world, Cilic becomes the lowest-ranked US Open champion since Pete Sampras (17) in 2002
Cilic is the lowest-ranked Grand Slam winner since Gaston Gaudio (44) at the 2004 French Open
The last Grand Slam title match with two first-time finalists was at Roland Garros in 2005, when Rafael Nadal defeated Argentine Mariano Puerta

Monday's title decider was the first between Grand Slam final debutants since 2005, but the Croat does not believe it signals the end of the majors dominance by Novak Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

"I think the guys from the second line were a bit lucky because Andy Murray was also having trouble with his back; [Stan] Wawrinka was up and down with his tennis after Australia; few other players were not playing at the best all the time," said Cilic.

"And Rafa is not here, so that opened the gate a little bit for everybody else.

"I feel it's going to definitely be much bigger competition from next year."

Cilic, 25, paid tribute to his coach Goran Ivanisevic, saying the former Wimbledon champion has "a very big heart", and he expects a big reception when he returns home.

Marin Cilic
Cilic served 17 aces as he dominated the final in comprehensive fashion

"I think I'm going to have to wait seven days until I come back to Croatia just to see what a huge thing I did," said Cilic.

"All the Croatian athletes were giving me huge support. Even the national football team. They made a video sending huge support for me.

"I feel it's going to definitely change my life."

Nishikori could not get anywhere close to repeating his dramatic victories over Milos Raonic, Wawrinka and top seed Djokovic in the previous rounds.

"It was one of worst matches I played today, but also he was very aggressive and very fast," said the 10th seed.

Last five US Open men's finals
2014Marin Cilic (Cro) Kei Nishikori (Jpn)6-3 6-3 6-3
2013Rafael Nadal (Spa)Novak Djokovic (Ser) 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1
2012Andy Murray (GB)Novak Djokovic (Ser) 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2
2011Novak Djokovic (Ser)Rafael Nadal (Spa)6-2 6-4 6-7 6-1
2010Rafael Nadal (Spa)Novak Djokovic (Ser) 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2

"I was, I have to say, a little bit nervous. It was my first final, even semis. But I'm very excited about these two weeks.

"I didn't expect anything coming here. Before I was injured and had little practice. There are so many positive things that I can have from these two weeks beating Stan and Novak again."

Nishikori's semi-final win over Djokovic had finished at 4am in Japan and the final began at 6am, but the timing did not lessen the interest back home, and there was a large contingent of Japanese supporters at Flushing Meadows.

"It's great to bring great news to Japan," he added. "Tennis has not been the biggest sport in Japan. Women's, yes, but the men never made it this far.

"I'm really happy to make a lot of history and great compliments. Hopefully I can win next time and have some more good results like this."

Marin Cilic's path to US Open victory
First round: beat Marcos Baghdatis (Cyp) 6-3 3-1 - retired
Second round: beat Illya Marchenko (Ukr) 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-4
Third round: beat Kevin Anderson (SA x18) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4
Fourth round: beat Gilles Simon (Fra x26) 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Quarter-finals: beat Tomas Berdych (Cze x6) 6-2 6-4 7-6 (7-4)
Semi-finals: beat Roger Federer (Swi x2) 6-3 6-4 6-4
Final: beat Kei Nishikori (Jpnn x10) 6-3 6-3 6-3

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