FIRE AND NICE

Fed wary of Cilic power

Sunday Herald Sun - - Tennis - LEO SCHLINK leo.schlink@news.com.au

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.”

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