Though he did not finish his rain-delayed semifinal comeback until 1:35 a.m. Sunday, Marin Cilic’s quest for a first ATP Masters 1000 title was not derailed.
Cilic returned to Center Court in the afternoon for a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Andy Murray to capture the Rookwood Cup at the Western & Southern Open.
The road to an ATP Masters 1000 title had been a long one for Cilic, who already had the 2014 US Open in hand but had previously been 0-8 in Masters 1000 quarterfinals.
“I felt that this week I played really great tennis,” Cilic said. “That's obviously a big sign for me for moving forward. Obviously, this is the best week that I've played since 2014 US Open. Even last year I was having some good tournaments but searching still for my game.”
With the loss, Murray snapped a career-best 22-match winning streak.
While Cilic was on the court into the early morning hours in his semifinal win, Murray has logged plenty of hours on the court over many days. Including his gold medal run to the Olympics in Rio, Sunday marked his 14th match in 15 days.
Cilic broke Murray’s serve twice in the first set and eventually wrapped up the set 6-4. In the second set, both players held serve easily until the end.
Serving at 5-5, Murray saved four break points but Cilic capitalized on the fifth to break. He served out the next game at love to clinch the title.
Cilic hit seven aces and one double fault in the final, winning 82 percent of his first serves.
“Today I felt that the serve was a big factor in the game,” Cilic said. “I was hitting a lot of big serves in important points, and I was definitely in that second set very, very mentally strong. Andy was starting to play a bit better, and, I mean, definitely huge win against Andy who has been in a great run last couple months.”
THE YOUNGEST: At age 27, Cilic is now the youngest active Grand Slam champion and the youngest ATP Masters 1000 champion. He won his US Open title in 2014. He is two years younger than Murray and Novak Djokovic.
CINCY SPECIFICS: Cilic is the first Croatian to win the Cincinnati men’s title. Players from 12 different countries have won Cincinnati titles in the open era. He is also the first No. 12 seed to win the tournament or even reach the final.
50 AND COUNTING: With five wins this week, Murray now has 50 this season. Only Novak Djokovic has more with 51.