Cilic Survives Soggy Saturday For Queen's Final Berth
Marin Cilic turned in a scintillating serving display in securing his place in the final of the Aegon Championships on Saturday.
Cilic edged Gilles Muller 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, firing 20 aces and claiming a ruthless 91 per cent (43 of 47) of points on his first serve. He has dropped just 10 first-serve points through four matches this week.
The World No. 7 has found a second home on the lawns of The Queen's Club, advancing to his third final. He joins current and former World No. 1s Andy Murray (5), Andy Roddick (4) and Lleyton Hewitt (4) as the only players to reach the title match on three or more occasions since 2000. The champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2013, he fired 47 winners, including 14 off his backhand wing, to improve to 24-8 at the ATP World Tour 500 event. Cilic will face Feliciano Lopez for the title on Sunday.
"It's just amazing to get to the final," said Cilic. "Also considering that today's match was an extremely high level. I was playing really, really good throughout all the match. Gilles was just pushing me to the limits.
"This week I was feeling really good on my serve and especially on the shots afterwards I was playing really well. And also against Gilles today I was mixing it up really good and just playing really well, really smart in some critical points. It's just paying off nicely."
Rain clouds threatened to disrupt play throughout the semi-final encounter on Saturday afternoon and the big-serving Croatian would charge ahead after an initial one-hour delay. Neither Cilic (29/29) nor Muller (37/37) had been broken entering Saturday's semi-finals at Queen's Club, but it was the 34 year old from Luxembourg who would blink first. Cilic claimed the opening break in the sixth game, firing a backhand pass by a net-charging Muller.
Muller would come up clutch in the second set, forcing a decider behind a late break in the 12th game. A ripped return winner gave him a 0/40 look at Cilic's serve and he would not disappoint. But the fourth seed would rebound in the third, breaking Muller for 4-3 and holding to the finish line after two hours and 14 minutes. He closed it out with his 20th ace.
Cilic improved to 2-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head against Muller, having previously prevailed on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam last year. He is seeking his second title of the season after emerging victorious at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open last month.
Muller, meanwhile, suffered his first defeat on grass this year, falling to 7-1. The champion at last week's ATP World Tour 250 event in 's-Hertogenbosch, he was bidding for his biggest win since beating World No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko at the 2008 US Open.