Aus Open site logo 14-27 Jan 19
Marin Cilic is into the men's singles final Marin Cilic is into the men's singles final

Cilic first through to final

Match Report

Kyle Edmund’s dream is over for another year; Marin Cilic’s dream is just beginning. It will be Cilic who will contest the Australian Open final on Sunday night, his third appearance in the trophy match of a major championship. 

He pulled rank on his young rival in their semifinal on Thursday night, making the most of the 43 ranking spots between them and the six years of experience that separated them. Clinically, impressively and swiftly, he snuffed out Edmund’s challenge 6-2 7-6(4) 6-2 in two hours and 18 minutes. 

MORE: All the latest scores and results 

Marin Cilic def. Kyle Edmund match highlights (SF)

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“I think in that second set I was just a little bit up and down with my game,” Cilic said. 

“I was not getting enough returns back to put pressure on his service games and he started to serve quite good and he started to release a couple of forehands, but I just stayed mentally very focused, to try to play every single point. It was extremely crucial in the tiebreak, obviously, to keep that pressure. 

“I feel really good. Today was just a little bit different to the match with Rafa (Nadal). In that match I lifted my game a lot and my energy was really good on the court. I think overall, I’m feeling really good – and that’s thanks to my guys, my fitness coach, they are making me work really hard. It obviously a great thing that I have two days off, so it’s going to be a nice one on Sunday.” 

Marin Čilić on court interview (SF)

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Even if Edmund had never reached a final of any description on the main tour – four semifinals reached, none won – he was no stranger to pressure matches. Three years ago, he made his Davis Cup debut in the final against Belgium.

Given that the land of the Poms had not won the prestigious trophy since 1936 (that was a very good year for the Brits but until Andy Murray arrived, it was all downhill from there), it was kind of a big deal that we were in the final. Edmund took two sets from David Goffin before running out of puff but, no matter, Murray won all three of his matches and Britain became the champions. Kyle had had his first taste of the big time. 

pattern
Unforced errors
30 Marin Cilic
35 Kyle Edmund

The problem for the 23-year-old was that Cilic is an old hand at big matches on big stages. The champion of the US Open in 2014, he was also last year’s Wimbledon finalist. He knows what it feels like to walk out for the biggest match of your life with your heart going like a trip-hammer, your palms dripping with sweat and your mouth so dry that your tongue is welded to the roof of your mouth. And then to find a way to win. 

For the first set, it was the more experienced man who was running the show. For all that Edmund has a thumping forehand and cracking serve, his weakness is his movement. He is as fit as a flea but at 188cm and 83kg, he is not quite as fleet-of-foot as some of his rivals. He is not half-bad, but in a sport of the tiniest of margins, this could be marked down as a weakness. 

Working Edmund’s backhand side – and spotting that the semifinal debutant was looking tight – Cilic made easy work of the first eight games. Two break points in his opening service game were swatted away, and then the big Croat was off and running. 

pattern
Winners
32 Marin Cilic
25 Kyle Edmund

After 35 minutes, Cilic was a set to the good and Edmund was heading off court for an injury time-out. Coming back a few minutes later, life was not getting any better: Cilic was in charge and Edmund was still looking edgy. But all that was about to change. 

As Cilic served at the start of the fifth game of the second set, the line judge deemed the ball to be out and made the appropriate call. Unfortunately, Edmund was just hitting his return at that precise moment and thumped it wide. At the same time Cilic demanded a Hawk-Eye challenge on the original call and ended up being awarded the point. 

Edmund went nuts. Well, as nuts as the quiet man from Yorkshire can go. But he stood his ground. He was fuming: the call had, in his view, hindered him as he went to hit the ball. The umpire, John Blom, disagreed, so Edmund demanded to see the tournament referee. 

Heated discussion between Edmund and umpire

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The assistant referee, Andreas Egli, appeared within seconds and listened patiently as Edmund presented his case. He did not give the Briton what he wanted (a replaying of the point), but the very fact of venting his spleen seemed to settle Edmund’s nerves. 

He came out fighting after that, leaning into a couple of returns, thumping a couple of forehands and generally playing like an angry young man determined to take out his aggression on the ball. It got him back into the match, but it was still not enough to worry Cilic. 

He could not get close to the Croat’s ferocious serve, and even if he had picked up the speed on his forehand, Cilic was not allowing him the time and the space to hit it often enough. The 29-year-old former Grand Slam champion was bossing the match and showing his younger rival how it is done. His serve was unbreakable, his game untouchable. 

The world No.6, who will now go up to a career-high ranking of No.3 following this win, was too strong, too shrewd and too experienced. He took his chances in the second set tiebreak and then took the early lead in the third, breaking serve for a 2-1 lead. 

By this point, whatever it was that required treatment at the end of the first set (presumably an upper thigh or groin issue) was wearing Edmund down. He was slowing down, while Cilic was accelerating towards the final.

The Croatian wouldn’t be drawn on who he would prefer to meet on Sunday, other than to smile “I would like to play against the player that I would beat.”

“I think you have Roger as a player who has been one of the most successful at these stages of Grand Slam, and also at Grand Slam level I think his performances were such a long period of time, especially when it gets to quarterfinals, semifinals, finals, he's getting better and better and better and playing great tennis,” he said. 

“So with him it's always a big challenge.

“With Chung, I played him few times, and looking at his game, I think he has improved a lot in the last six to 12 months. And he has, I think, matured, I think, playing really, really good tennis, entertaining to watch. Amazing defensive player and also hitting big from both sides.

“It's no answer … I'm going to focus on myself.”