ATP London: Andy Murray battles past Marin Cilic into final

Andy Murray will go for a record fifth Aegon Championships title on Sunday after defeating the fifth seed and 2012 champion Marin Cilic in a hard-fought three-set battle. At times, Cilic was able to use his big power to overwhelm Murray, but in the end, the top seed’s defence proved to be too much for the Croatian, as Murray claimed the 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory.

Murray Defence Does the Damage

After swapping simple holds to start the match, Murray made his move quickly in the third came. Some good defence from the top seed gave him triple break point and more sensational defence drew an error on the third to give him an early break lead. Cilic would bounce right back, racing ahead 15-40 in Murray’s next service game, but the Scot saved both with some big hitting and a lucky net cord. Two more break points would come and go for the 2012 champion before some big serves allowed the top seed to consolidate the break for a 3-1 lead.

Murray lunges for a forehand on Saturday. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Murray lunges for a forehand on Saturday. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Both men would settle into rhythms after the break and held their serves easily. The next four games went with serve without either player getting a sniff at a break point. Serving to stay in the set at 3-5, Cilic found himself under pressure again from Murray’s strong defence. The top seed raced ahead 0-40, triple set point, and ripped a beautiful dipping passing shot winner to break and seal the opening set.  

Cilic Rides Serve into Decider

Cilic kept swinging to start the second set and brought up a break point at 40-AD in the third game of the second set, but Murray saved it with an ace. The Croatian was hitting his big shots well, but the top seed was defending brilliant, not letting Cilic get full control of his shots, leading to errors or Murray turning the tables. Still, he was not giving the Scot any looks at his serve early in the second.

Marin Cilic plays a forehand during his semifinal loss. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Marin Cilic plays a forehand during his semifinal loss. Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
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The next break opportunities would again go the way of Cilic as he went ahead 15-40 in the seventh game and finally broke through by dominating a rally before Murray missed a passing shot wide. He struggled to consolidate, falling behind 0-40 in the following game. The 2012 champion used his big serve to save the first two before a well set up point led to a volley winner on the third. The rest of the set would go with serve and Cilic would serve out the set 6-4 to send it to a deciding set.

Murray Rolls into Final

Just like his quarterfinal, Murray came out flying to start the final set after dropping the second. After holding to start the set, he grabbed a 15-40 lead in Cilic’s first service game and converted the first break point with a brilliant return that dipped tight to the net, resulting in an error from the Croatian. The four-time champion then held to love for a quick 3-0 lead.

Murray jumps into a backhand during his semifinal on Saturday. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Murray jumps into a backhand during his semifinal on Saturday. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Murray was rolling and gave his opponent no looks on his serve. The next four games were eventful until Cilic was serving to stay in the match at 2-5. Murray managed to fight to 40-AD, match point, but the Croatian saved it with an ace. The top seed kept pressing, saving a few game points before missing a forehand on his second match point. Cilic would finally hold but he was only delaying the inevitable as Murray would hold to love in the following game, closing out the match with an ace.

By the Numbers

Murray succeeded in out-serving the powerful Cilic, hitting 14 aces to the Croatians eight and winning 80 percent of his first serve points. The top seed also had more winners with 32 to Cilic’s 30. The pair both had 16 unforced errors. The net was at times the Croatians friend, as he won 15 of 26 points he played when he moved in, but a one-for-six conversion rate on break points, while allowing three breaks against his serve, proved to be his undoing.

In the final, Murray will face another big-hitting test in the form of Canadian Milos Raonic.

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