Cilic, one slam wonder or the next big thing?

Mon Sep 8, 2014 10:49pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marin Cilic hit all the right notes in a dominant 6-3 6-3 6-3 win over Kei Nishikori in the U.S. Open final on Monday but it remains to be seen if the big Croatian is another one slam wonder or perennial threat.

The final was a strange and unfamiliar one for tennis fans, the match marking the first time since the 2005 Australian Open that at least one of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer were not playing for the title.

At Flushing Meadows, fans had also been used to seeing one of the 'Big Four' walking away at the end of the fortnight with the silver trophy, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray lifting every U.S. Open title in the last decade except one.

Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009, who toppled Federer in five sets, was the only other man to clinch the title.

Since then Del Potro has not been back to a grand slam final and only once made it to the semi-finals.

Sitting in his post-match press conference with the trophy beside him, even Cilic found it hard to believe.

"I mean, seems completely unreal to be called grand slam champion," said the 14th seed. "I was dreaming about this all my life and suddenly last four, five days everything started to change.

"I started to play absolutely unbelievable starting with the fifth set with (Gilles) Simon.   Continued...

Marin Cilic of Croatia kisses his trophy after defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan in their men's singles final match at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2014.             REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz