Sublime Djokovic Cruises Into Final
Novak Djokovic got off to a roaring start in his US Open semi-final against defending champion Marin Cilic and did not look back, dominating proceedings 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday. Previously, the fewest games lost in a US Open semi was four when Lleyton Hewitt blasted Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 2001.
"Obviously it felt great to be able to perform as well as I did today at this stage of a tournament," said Djokovic. "Knowing that Marin carried that (ankle) injury for last couple of matches. I didn't allow that fact to distract me too much.
"I just wanted to concentrate on what I needed to do on the court and come out with the right intensity, make him move, get as many returns back in play. All in all, it was from my side a very solid match and I take that as a confidence booster for the final."Djokovic halted Cilic's 12-match win streak at the US Open and extended his win streak in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to 14-0. The Serb has reached the final of all four Grand Slams in a single season for the first time in his career and has advanced to 17 major finals in total since the 2010 US Open.
"I will look back very positively on the tournament," said Cilic. "An extremely great tournament. Obviously very unlucky that I twisted the ankle. I went to the match obviously to play. I cannot pull myself out of it with injury. That's the reality.
"Novak was extremely focused today. He played great. But I have to also take myself that I was fighting pretty well during the full tournament. Considering the first-time experience having to defend a Grand Slam title, I feel that I did well. So I'm very, very positive coming out of the tournament."
Djokovic's win made him just the third player in the Open Era to reach the final at all four Grand Slams in a single season, joining Roger Federer (2006-07, '09) and Rod Laver (1969). He will face Roger Federer in Sunday's final.
Djokovic, who reached the final in New York for the fifth time in six years, earned an immediate break in the second game after Cilic pulled the trigger on a backhand down the line, missing long. The top seed won 12 of the first 16 points in grabbing a double break lead and would seal the opener with a third break on his third set point.
The Serb would need just 53 minutes in taking a two-set lead, hammering eight winners while claiming 16 of 19 service points in the second set. Djokovic appeared to have put a bow on the match after capturing an immediate break in the third, but Cilic would not go down quietly. The Croat opened the court with a rifled cross-court backhand followed by a smooth drop shot winner to break back for 2-all. The break would prove to be a minor hiccup for the World No. 1, who broke once again for 3-2 and an eighth time two games later.
Did You Know...
A Grand Slam semi-finalist won three games on just four other occasions in the Open Era and not since 1986 Roland Garros (Ivan Lendl d. Johan Kriek 6-2, 6-1, 6-0). The most-lopsided Grand Slam semi-final in the Open Era was at Roland Garros in 1978 when Bjorn Borg defeated Corrado Barazzutti 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.