Marin Cilic saved a championship point and came back to defeat Novak Djokovic in the final of the Fever-Tree Championships on Sunday.
The tall Croatian showed fantastic mental fortitude to come from a set down and defeat the former world number one 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 in a three hour marathon at the picturesque Queens Club in London.
In a match of fine margins, Cilic had to wait until the third set to break the Serb, who was superb on serve all match.
Djokovic was on the back foot for most of the opening set, often troubled by Cilic’s forehand power. He was forced to save six breakpoints and the gutsy display paid off, as Cilic stung together a number of unforced errors and a double fault to hand Djokovic the opener.
It was the Djokovic’s turn to start asd the aggressor in the second set, firing off several swift service games en route to winning 96% of his first serve points. This earned Djokovic a match point, but Cilic saved it and hung in to force a tiebreaker, where he won five points in a row to force a deciding set.
After squandering seven other breakpoints in the match, when the moment finally came again in the crucial eighth game of the final set, Cilic was ready. He fired a forehand on the run, clipping the line to go 5-3 up. All a deflated Djokovic could do is watch as Cilic served out the set to love for the title.
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“I was just trying to stay mentally in it,” said the 29-year-old after the match.
“And definitely, it was an extremely tough match. No breaks for me until that last return game. I definitely feel relieved that I won it and what a great week.”