ThrowbackTimes Queen’s: Novak Djokovic wastes match point vs. Marin Cilic

World no. 6 and the 2012 champion Marin Cilic added the second Queen’s trophy to his collection in 2018, prevailing against the 2008 finalist Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and 57 minutes for his 18th ATP title. Marin saved a match point in the second set’s tenth game and came from a 4-1 down in the tie break to prolong the encounter and bring it home with a single break in the deciding set. It was their 16th meeting and the second straight win for Marin after Paris 2016, losing the first 14 encounters against the great rival who competed in his first ATP final in a year. Struggling in the first four months of the season due to a long break he had to take in the second part of 2017, Djokovic found his form in Rome, Paris and here in London to stand as one of the Wimbledon favorites. Marin served at only 48% but drew the most from it, firing 18 aces and fending off five out of six break points to keep the pressure on Novak.

Djokovic landed 74% of the first serve in, and his initial shot worked like a charm, repelling seven out of eight break chances but losing the match due to that one late break he suffered. After those five break points he saved in the opening set’s seventh game, Novak rattled off 11 good holds and forced Cilic to follow that if he wanted to stay in contention. Thanks to his serve and forehand, Marin had 61 winners and just 39 unforced errors, while Novak stood on a 42-26 ratio, which was almost good enough to secure the title for him in this excellent final. The Croat was the better player in the opening eight games, finding the zone behind the initial shot and creating a break opportunity at 1-1 that Novak saved when Marin’s backhand hit the net. The Serb was under even more significant pressure at 3-3 when he played against five break chances, erasing them all to remain in touch with Cilic after three service winners and two mistakes from his rival.

Marin Cilic prevailed over Novak Djokovic in the 2018 Queen’s final.

Four good holds later, Marin served to stay in the set at 5-6 and experienced first problems behind the initial shot. Novak broke him on the third chance and took the opener 7-5 after grueling 67 minutes. Carried by this momentum, Djokovic sailed through his service games in set number two, winning 24 out of 28 points before the tie break and waiting for a possibility on the return that would have carried him over the finish line. Marin saved two break points in game two and faced an ultimate challenger at 4-5 when he offered Novak a match point.

Another great serve kept Cilic in the match before blasting two more service winners to level the score at 5-5, never facing troubles on serve by the end of the encounter. Novak opened a 4-1 lead in the tie break, but Cilic stayed in touch with two winners, reducing the deficit and taking the following two points on Novak’s serve after the Serb’s double fault and his forehand that forced Djokovic’s error. Another powerful forehand earned the set point for Marin, who converted it with a forehand winner, taking the last six points to stay on the title trail. Novak lost momentum on the return after wasting that match point, and he squandered a game point at 3-4 of the deciding set to lose serve when his backhand found the net. Serving for his second Queen’s title, Cilic blasted four service winners in game nine to start a massive celebration and lift the first trophy in 14 months.

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