FIRE AND NICE
Fed wary of Cilic power
CROATIAN Marin Cilic has been urged to turn nasty and intimidate Roger Federer tonight as the Swiss chases a record 19th major and eighth Wimbledon title.
Renowned as a gentleman, Cilic has been told by his coach Jonas Bjorkman to adopt a meaner persona as he tackles the extraordinary Federer on his best surface.
But 2014 US Open champion Cilic wants nothing of it.
“People are asking always, ‘Do you need to be more arrogant? Do you need to be more angry on the court ... to win more constantly?’,” Cilic said.
“For me, I wouldn’t agree. There is not one formula for that. I feel obviously that emotions are very important on the court, especially in my own case where I am from a quiet nature.
“I try to, with Jonas, with my team, lift that up, lift that spirit up. I believe that’s helping me to play a little bit freer.
“I’m still a nice guy on the court, too, I believe. You should ask players around.”
Cilic, 28, will carry a 1-6 win-loss record into battle against Federer, 35, who could become the first man to lift eight Wimbledon titles. But there were two outstanding matches in that tally.
Cilic obliterated Federer in straight sets in New York three years ago and at Wimbledon last year led the Swiss by two sets to love and held a match point, but lost.
“I believe this is his home court, place where he feels the best and knows that he can play the best game,” Cilic said.
“Obviously I’m going to look back, as well. Twelve months ago I was one point away from winning a match over here against him. Definitely I believe that if I’m going to be playing him, in my own abilities to get through and to win it.
“But I still know that it’s a big mountain to climb. Roger is playing maybe his best tennis of his career at the moment, having a great season.
“So I know it’s going to be a huge challenge. But I believe I’m ready.”
Federer, who beat Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in their semi-final, is the oldest finalist since Ken Rosewall, 39, was destroyed by Jimmy Connors in 1974.
And he fears the firepower of Cilic, who advanced by beating American Sam Querrey 6-7 (8-6) 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.
“I’m in for a tough one,” Federer said. “Plus we had a great one here last year. Also at the US Open, he played unreal there against me so I know it’s going to be tough. I have to play offensive. If you give Marin now time on the ball he can finish points nicely.”
Federer rates Cilic’s US Open destruction of him as one of the most devastating performances against him.
“I thought he played very well. Conditions were fast,” Federer said. “He was clocking returns and serves at will. He was doing a great job.”
“Just the way he was playing. He was confident and feeling it and seeing it. I mean, it was very impressive.”
For all that, Federer is ready to embrace destiny.
“Making history here at Wimbledon, it’s a big deal,” he said. “I love this tournament. All my dreams came true here as a player.
“To have another chance to go for No.8 now, be kind of so close now at this stage, is a great feeling.”