Cilic comes down and blown out by Berdych: ‘Tough to handle’

LONDON – Marin Cilic completely changed after he won his first Slam at the US Open. The Croatian has not been played extremely well during the fall and, even though he has made it into the ATP World Tour Finals, the world No. 9 needs to show that if he ever wants to be No.1, he has to be very consistent.

Take a look at Cilic on Monday in Group A when he faced Novak Djokovic. He was blasted, knocked out 6-1, 6-1. He was not even close and, while he has said that he is hurt a bit, he has enough of a rest to be striking the ball and believing that he could disturb the Serb. But Djokovic was so much faster that evening that Cilic looked lost.

That is because the younger generation of top players can be excellent at times, but they have yet to prove that they can rise to the level of truly superior players. So even though the US Open winner Cilic and the finalist Kei Nishikori opened up our eyes when they stunned Roger Federer and Djokovic in the semis, they have yet to show that can beat the “Big 4” – the 18-time Slams champ Federer, 14-time champ Rafael Nadal, seven-time Djokovic and two-time victor Andy Murray – on a consistent basis.

If you look at the Big 4 and how well they have been year after year, they have been pretty darn good day after day. They have won Slams, ATP Masters Series, ATP 500s and even 250s. They went everywhere; they wanted to go and win time after time.

Berdych IW 11 MALT7689

Berdych made the most of Cilic’s poor play. Photo by Mal Taam/MALTPHOTO

But Cilic has not done yet and maybe he never well. He does have a huge first serve, can rip off both his forehands and backhands and is pretty good when he attacks on the net, but he mentally goes in and out. That is why the 26-year-old has won 13 titles, and other than the US Open, he has only won ATP 250 tournaments. He has never even reached a final of the Masters.

Look at the 27-year-old Murray, who is loved in London, even though he has not won as much as Fed, Rafa and Novak. But Murray has been very, very good and way much better than Cilic: Murray holds 31 titles, including two Slams, Olympic gold and nine ATP World Tours Masters.

So while Cilic has played much better this year, winning four titles and scoring over wins like Tomas Berdych, Federer and Nishikori – he should have entered London this week prepared to rack up significant victories.

But it appears that he is already gone, even though he has a small chance of reaching the semifinal.

On Wednesday, Berdych played fairly well and smoked Cilic 6-3, 6-1. Cilic only managed to hit 11 winners, but suffered 30 unforced errors. The 6-foot-5 big guy only managed three aces.

Berdych didn’t look well at all when he quickly lost to Stan Wawrinka on Monday. He recomposed and kept landing his shot deep and into the corners. The Czech outhit him by whipping his forehands, and he was able to guess which way Cilic was going with his heavy serves and popped them back the other way. Once Berdych began rallies, he was not going to be impatient, while he was dared Cilic to be accurate. The Croatian could not keep his balls in the court. He walked away quietly.

Now he says that he is hurting but wants to be there anyway. At least he is being honest, which is good. He may not make it in the semis, but says that regardless of what happens this week, he says that he is still thinking about how “amazing” he was in winning the US Open. Perhaps he can pull off another Slam at the 2015 Australian Open. Perhaps.

“It’s a little bit disappointing to play like this,” he said. “I was not expecting it. But sort of I feel a little bit tired, and body feels a little bit tired on the court.

“It seems that the things that I’m doing that are all basically going in a wrong direction. Especially with these guys at this kind of level, even small mistakes, or if you’re not at your best performances, the outcome is not going to be going in your favor.

“I haven’t also been playing last few weeks. Also, the body, of course, is not at the best possible shape. … I was looking forward to play here, to do well, to play good matches on a high level. But it’s a tough to handle, tough to look at. Both matches I’ve played, I didn’t play on a good level. That’s tough to handle, too.”

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