A bad blister prevented Marin Cilic from giving his best performance in the Wimbledon final on Sunday against Roger Federer but both the Croatian and his team believe he can walk away with pride from what has been his best ever two weeks at the All England Club.
The 2014 US Open champion broke into tears during one of the changeovers, but it wasn’t the physical pain that got to him. It was the emotional toll of the situation, of not being able to step up and compete to the best of his ability in a dream Wimbledon final against the best man to have ever taken part in the Championships.
“It’s heartbreaking when you see someone you work for, and you know how dedicated they are and I also know what it means for him to achieve his dreams and goals, and winning here is one of them. Not being able to play the way he wanted was obviously tough to watch but we’re very proud. He played through the pain and gave Roger a nicer win,” said Cilic’s coach Jonas Bjorkman after the match.
“He’s normally taking a lot of pain so I can’t imagine how painful it was.”
Bjorkman, who teamed up with Cilic after Wimbledon last year, has witnessed his 28-year-old charge enjoy a great three months this season, through the clay swing, where he won the Istanbul title, and the grass, where he was runner-up in Queen’s and SW19.
It had been three years since Cilic last reached a Grand Slam final and this was his first at Wimbledon.
Despite the tournament in ending for Cilic in pain, does Bjorkman feel things have finally kicked into gear again for the tall Croatian?
“Absolutely! I think it’s no doubt, I hope, he will regroup and feel that he’s back, contending for another Slam. I think he’s in his prime time.
“He’s playing really good tennis at the moment, he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him and it’s no doubt that he has the potential of winning more. That’s his goal and we’re going to do everything we can in the team to help as much as we can to get him to achieve his dreams and goals.”
Marin Cilic is given treatment during the final against Roger Federer.
The Swedish coach added: “Since the Monaco tournament, he’s been playing great tennis, very consistent, which we’re really pleased with, because that’s been maybe a bit more up and down before, so we’ll try to continue in that way and in the same style heading into the hard-court swing.”
Cilic described to the media after the final how he felt while sitting at his bench, crying, while the medical team attended to him.
“Obviously was very tough emotionally because I know how much I went through last few months in preparation with everything. It was also tough because of my own team. They did so much for me. I just felt it was really bad luck,” the world No6 said.
“It was just a feeling that I knew that I cannot give my best on the court, that I cannot give my best game and my best tennis, especially at this stage of my career, at such a big match. It was very, very difficult to deal with it. You know, that was the only thing. But otherwise it didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.”
Bjorkman suggested Cilic would need a few days to regroup, but from the sounds of it, he is ready to put this painful experience behind him and look ahead.
“I’m very straightforward. I know that these last two weeks have been great tennis from me. My level was on a position where it hasn’t been before on grass, so I’m extremely satisfied with that. Extremely happy. This will give me much more confidence, much more strength for the rest of the year,” said Cilic.
“I know that my level can even go higher, so that is something that I’m looking forward to. That’s something which is definitely making me more happy.
“With that loss today, obviously it’s a sad one, it’s a devastating one, but I’m still very proud and thankful for all my team that was helping me to get here.”
At 35, Federer became the oldest man to win a Wimbledon singles title and having won two majors already this season, following a six-month injury hiatus, the world has been marveling at the Swiss’ achievements.
Cilic is no exception, as he hailed his opponent’s longevity, and will to continuously improve.
Bjorkman, who as a player lost to Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon semi-finals, says the Swiss star is “unique in many ways” but also believes there’s been too much emphasis on his age.
“I think everyone is a bit surprised with the age and I think now, if you look to other sports it’s not that unique in a way. I’m not saying I’m like him, but I was 36 and I played singles and doubles, I played a lot of matches,” said Bjorkman.
“The body is fine, ice hockey, soccer… you have so many who can actually go through with that age. I think in tennis we’re so focused on it. I got asked if I should retire when I was 30+, because back in the day everyone stopped earlier. But if you look at the knowledge we have about rehab and training in all sports now, age is only a number.
“Then I think Roger spends less energy out there, he’s unique in many ways which also makes it easier for him maybe compared to some others who have to work harder on the points. His movement is natural. I think we focus a lot on the numbers.”
Roger Federer told Marin Cilic he was a “hero” during the Wimbledon final trophy ceremony on Sunday, and there were plenty of those at the All England Club this past fortnight.
From Federer’s record-breaking triumph, to Garbine Muguruza’s statement victory for Spain, to Claire Liu’s success in the first all-Asian-American girls’ singles final… the list of heroes at Wimbledon 2017 is a long one.
A full house watched Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid claim the men’s wheelchair doubles trophy on Court No. 3 in nearly three hours, while Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo survived a 4hr 39min marathon against Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic.
Here we give a shout-out to everyone who shone, in one way or another, at this year’s Wimbledon…
He came into the tournament as the favourite, skipped the clay season to maximise his chances of winning at Wimbledon, and walked away with an eighth title at SW19 (a record in men’s singles), and 19th Grand Slam trophy.
She lost 6-1, 6-0 to Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne a few days before the tournament started, and didn’t have her coach Sam Sumyk with her due to family reasons, but had an ultimate trump card in the form of 1994 champion Conchita Martinez. After leaving Paris in tears last month, it was impressive to see Muguruza storm back that way.
MARCELO MELO AND LUKASZ KUBOT
Battling for four hours and 39 minutes, the Brazilian/Polish duo claimed their first Wimbledon doubles title – both as a pair and individually – with a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 13-11 win over Marach/Pavic. Completing the victory under the lights and roof of Wimbledon Centre Court, Melo and Kubot’s celebrations were a tournament highlight, particularly the latter’s Can Can dance.
With a double bagel in 55 minutes, Vesnina and Makarova claimed their first Wimbledon doubles crown – and third major in total – in stunning fashion. It was just the second double bagel in a women’s doubles final in history, and first since 1953.
JAMIE MURRAY AND MARTINA HINGIS
Twenty years after she won her Wimbledon singles title, Hingis claimed a 23rd Grand Slam trophy (across singles, doubles, mixed doubles), this time alongside Jamie Murray. They beat defending champions Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen 6-4, 6-4. It was Murray’s second mixed title at Wimbledon, 10 years after he won his first alongside Jelena Jankovic.
Liu became the first American to win a girls’ singles title at Wimbledon since Chanda Rubin in 1992 and her emotional reaction after defeating Ann Li 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 was incredibly moving. It was also the first All-American junior final at Wimbledon since 1979.
A Spaniard against an Argentine is not necessarily what you’d expect in a Wimbledon junior final. But Davidovich Fokina and Axel Geller produced some great tennis throughout the week before the former claimed a 7-6(2), 6-3 win in the final. Davidovich Fokina is the first Spanish boys’ singles champion in 50 years.
After exiting from the opening rounds at the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, the 20-year-old Dutchwoman claimed her first Grand Slam title with a 6-0, 6-4 result over Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock. She lost the doubles final alongside Marjolein Buis.
The 30-year-old Swede won his first Wimbledon wheelchair singles title with a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 success over new world No1 Gustavo Fernandez. The 2012 Paralympic gold medalist was down by a break in each set but survived the big-hitting Argentine to claim his first Grand Slam trophy in his third final.
The British-Japanese duo claimed their fourth consecutive Wimbledon doubles title together with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 over Dutch pair Marjolein Buis and Diede de Groot. Whiley and Kamiji completed the Grand Slam by winning all four majors as a team in 2014 and are an unstoppable force in wheelchair doubles tennis.
ALFIE HEWETT AND GORDON REID
The British pair claimed the men’s wheelchair doubles title with a near three-hour 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(3) upset victory over French team Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer. It was their second Wimbledon title as a duo.
The Croatian played some sensational tennis en route to the final, backing what had been his most consistent clay season to date. He was undone by a foot blister in the end and wasn’t able to test Federer in a lacklustre final but we can’t forget what he did in the entire grass swing. It’s a heartbreaking end for him at Wimbledon, but if he handles the aftermath well, he’s a real contender at the US Open, where he won in 2014.
At 37 years old, Venus pretty much breaks a record every time she steps on the court. But her accomplishments are well beyond her age. Her victims at Wimbledon were: Elise Mertens, Wang Qiang, Naomi Osaka, Ana Konjuh, Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta before she fell to Muguruza. That is one impressive list. She played her second Slam final in 2017 and is back in the world’s top-10. We’re not sure how much longer she’ll continue to spoil us but we’ll take what we can get.
IVAN LJUBICIC AND JONAS BJORKMAN
The respective coaches of Roger Federer and Marin Cilic deserve a shout-out. Since Ljubicic joined Team Federer – coaching him alongside Severin Luthi – the Swiss has gone on to win two Grand Slams and return to what looks to be his best form. Many believe Ljubicic had a lot to do with Federer’s improved backhand, which has been devastating opponents all season.
Meanwhile, Bjorkman has formed a successful partnership with Cilic, who is now knocking on the door of the top five and has found his way back to the Grand Slam finals.
He may not have defended his Wimbledon title but Murray still made headlines for standing up to casual sexism – he corrected a journalist’s stat that ignored the achievements of American women – and also stating that the All England Club’s scheduling is unfair to the ladies. Always a class act!
The Spaniard did a tremendous job helping guide Muguruza to the title, in the absence of Sam Sumyk, Muguruza’s full-time coach. Martinez was the only Spanish woman to ever win Wimbledon prior to this year’s tournament. She helped rebuild Muguruza’s confidence and introduced a sense of calm to the big-hitting Spaniard.
With Anabel Medina coaching Jelena Ostapenko to the French Open title last month, and now Martinez’s success with Muguruza, looks like whoever wants to win the US Open should get their hands on a Spanish female coach stat!