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Wimbledon Final Preview: Roger Federer chase glory against dangerous Cilic

Wimbledon Final Preview: Roger Federer chase glory against dangerous Cilic

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by Roxana Jo

Roger Federer made a huge decision after last year's Wimbledon (lost in the semis to Milos Raonic), skipping the rest of the season due to a knee problem, in order to fully recover and start all over in 2017. As we all know, it proved to be one of the smartest choices he could make, as he came back stronger than ever, winning 30 out of 32 matches so far this season! With Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami already in his bag, Roger appeared at Wimbledon as one of the favorites, and he proved his class yet again, reaching his 11th final at the All England Club, eyeing record-breaking 8th title! When he step on the court today, Roger will play his 29th Grand Slam final and he will be the oldest Wimbledon finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974.

In addition, Federer reached the title match without losing a set, something he achieved only twice before, in 2006 and 2008. Between Federer and his 19th Grand Slam crown stands Croat Marin Cilic, the 7th seed who was seen in the latter stages of the tournament, as one of the players who could make a big damage against the favorites.

Martin had a good draw and he took the most from it, advancing to his second Grand Slam final (2014 US Open champion, where he beat Roger in dominant fashion), trying to become the first Croat with Wimbledon crown since that historic run of Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. Cilic spent much more time on the court than Roger but he did what he had to do, ousting Gilles Muller and Sam Querrey in his last two matches to book a place in the big final, where he will have his chances.

He will try to become the first winner outside the Big 4 since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, a fact that speaks for itself. Roger and Marin met 7 times before, starting from Paris in 2008 and Federer won 6 encounters. It was a pretty one-sided match-up before Canada 2014, where Roger scored a hard-fought 7-6 6-7 6-4 triumph, and Marin finally beat his great rival at the US Open a few weeks later, en route to his first Grand Slam trophy.

Croat played an amazing match, blowing Roger away from the court with clean power of his shots, and he had a chance to do that again at Wimbledon last year. He won the first 2 sets and had 3 match points in set number 4, wasting all of that to lose 6-7 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-3, as Roger performed an amazing escape to reach the last 4.

With that in mind, Marin will be eager not to repeat the same kind of mistakes and to topple Roger on every chance he creates, and he will need that level of tennis against such a strong rival. Both players served well so far, Marin dropped serve 9 times while Roger was broken on only 4 occasions, and he will do his best to keep his initial shot safe today as well.

Cilic will have to use the full size of his hands in order to return precise serves of his rival and to put him under more pressure than the previous 6 rivals Roger has played against. Compared to last season at Wimbledon, Marin's second serve return works much better and he will need it today desperately.

His second serve is also a little better than 12 months ago, and he is more aggressive, finishing a lot more points at the net. He will have to show clutch and determination, to keep the big points on his racquet and to leave fear behind him, in his most important match in a career.

He also has to move well and cover the court against Roger's precise groundstrokes and to overpower the Swiss from the baseline. For the first time since US Open 2009, Federer will face someone else than Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slam final, and he will go after Marin with a full arsenal of good serves, chip&charges, slices and net rushing, imposing his game and keeping the edge in the points.

His backhand, that gave him so much this season, will have to be a top-notch today, to repel Cilic's attacks and to enable him to fire from his forehands when he opens the court. All in all, if they both keep their first serve above 70%, this should be a great clash with only a few break points and with at least 2 tie breaks, and we will see who will prevail in the end.

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