Saturday, January 27, 2018

2018 AUS OPEN: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Roger Federer (SUI) [2] vs. Marin Cilic (CRO) [6]

Here are my predictions for the 2018 Australian Open men's final. 
Last year I correctly predicted Roger Federer would beat Rafael Nadal in the men's final and also correctly predicted  1 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinalsThis year I predicted correctly 2 of 2 women's semifinals2 of 2 men''s semifinals3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I incorrectly predicted the results of the women's final this year.


Marin Cilic (CRO) [6] d. Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2 7-6(4) 6-2.  This match continued to showcase Cilic's improved movement and the deadly weapons he possesses when his confidence is high and he goes for his shots. His first serve is extremely dangerous regularly getting into the 130 mph range and his backhand and forehand are hit deep and hard. Edmund can probably outmatch him for power on the forehand side (but not accuracy) and something was ailing the young Brit which made him unable to move his feet fast enough to be able to hit more forehands to make this a competitive match. Without his best weapon, the result was never really in doubt.

Roger Federer (SUI) [2] d. Hyeon Chung (KOR) 6-1 5-2 RET.  This match was even more impacted by injury than the first semifinal. Sadly, Chung, who had been battling blisters for the last week or so, could not even complete the second set as the pain became too great and he retired before he could fall down 2-0 down in sets to Roger Federer. Clearly his movement was becoming more hampered by his injury and I don't fault his decision to stop, but I do think he could have waited one more game "just for appearances."


Although this is technically a reprise of the 2017 Wimbledon final, no one expects a repeat of the quality of that match, which was hampered by Cilic's lack of movement (again, due to blisters--good socks are very important in tennis, people!!). After all, on his way to winning the 2014 US Open Cilic basically destroyed Federer in straight sets in the semifinals so he most definitely can win this match. However, in 9 meetings that is the only match he has won, and there's no question both players are playing better tennis now than they were then. Most commentators expect a 5-set match but I think Federer will be able to get it done in four sets. Happily, I don't think physical stamina will play a big role in the outcome of the match, but even if it does I would still give the edge to Federer.

The two have both won majors before, so Cilic is hoping to become the 5th multiple slam winner (and youngest member of that group, at age 29) in the era of the Great Trivalry in Men's Tennis (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) who have won an astonishing 47 major titles among them. Regardless of the result, the Croat will become the World #3, his highest ranking to date and is showing his all-court game by reaching the final of 3 of the four majors. Because Federer winning here would just repeat last year's result Nadal will still be #1 but the lead has been reduced, but Federer has a fair amount of points to defend in the Spring North American hard court season, having won both Indian Wells and Miami last year as well. But really the key point of this match is whether Federer can win his 20th major title in his 30th major final appearance at age 36. I believe he can, and amazingly, may even go further this year. If he does win his 20th, will that make him more likely to retire earlier than he planned?

 Mad Professah's pick: Federer.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin