The 2018 men’s singles Australian Open final will be contested by Roger Federer and Marin Cilic. This will be a repeat of the 2017 Wimbledon final. Federer won in straight sets as Cilic was reduced to tears as he battled with a painful blister.
Interestingly, Federer progressed to the final of the Australian Open this year thanks to the same problem for his opponent, Hyeon Chung in the semi-final. Chung was already a set down when he clearly started to struggle on court. He could hardly walk before calling it a day. Thus allowing Federer to breeze into the final.
That’s not to say Federer does not deserve his place in the 2018 Australian Open final. He has been good in his matches leading up to the last four.
The current world number two is yet to drop a set and while he looked a little out of sorts in the opening set of his match against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-final, not one of his opponents have come close to defeating the Swiss.
Federer has not been playing at the maximum of his ability throughout the tournament. However that’s mainly because he has not been required to, other than the odd tie break. However, he has looked very comfortable and is operating at full fitness. This is something that cannot be said of his top rivals.
Federer has spent six fewer hours on the court at the Australian Open than Cilic and despite his advancing years, he should still feel fresh, especially after ending his semi-final early. Federer has looked very composed in his most recent Grand Slam finals. He will walk into the Rod Laver on Sunday believing he well walk out again as the champion.
Cilic has not enjoyed the same path as Federer to the final and has been taken to four sets three times. This including his first-round match against qualifier Vasek Pospisil. Having gone one set down in a tie-break against 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round, Cilic came back strongly to win the next three sets in a row to book a place in the quarter-final.
The next match was always going to be the big test for Cilic as he met the number one seed, Rafael Nadal. Having lost the first set, for the third time in the tournament, Cilic battled back to level things before falling 2-1 behind after three sets. Cilic then took the fourth set 6-2 and by this stage Nadal was struggling and was forced to retire in the fifth set, with Cilic up two games to nil.
In the semi-final, Cilic was excellent in the way he controlled the match against Kyle Edmund. The Croatian never allowed Edmund to settle into the match. Using controlled aggression, Cilic took the match away from his inexperienced opponent. It was the perfect way to progress into a Grand Slam final.
However, despite playing some great tennis throughout the two weeks, the dropped sets at the start of matches and the fact Cilic has defeated Federer just once in his eight attempts, means the 6th seed is out at 16/5 with William Hill to win the match.
There is no doubt Cilic is playing well and if he remains fits, as he has throughout the tournament, he can take Federer all the way. The courts are playing nicely for Cilic. The ball is bouncing up into his strike zone, giving him the opportunity to make big ground strokes.
Perhaps the big factor in this match will be the mentality of Cilic. Will be able to forget about what happened at Wimbledon last year. Or will he use it to add to his determination to win?.
If he comes out with controlled determination to win, he will provide Federer with his biggest test of this tournament. It will be interesting to see how the Swiss reacts if he falls a set behind.
Unfortunately for Cilic, every set he has lost in the tournament has been the first set of the match. If he was to do the same again in the final, it will be a long way back.
Cilic can be the first player to take a set off Federer. However there are too many question marks as to whether he can win the match. The opening set will be key and Coral offer 9/4 for the first set to go to a tie break. It's 11/4 for Federer to win the match in four sets.