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How The Match Was Won: Novak Djokovic v Marin Cilic

Novak Djokovic serves on No.1 Court
by Ron Atkin
Wednesday 2 July 2014

The key components of Novak Djokovic's 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 victory against Marin Cilic.

Been there, done that: the confidence of knowing that he had won all his previous nine matches against Cilic and conceded just three sets in those nine matches (two in Grand Slams) offered Djokovic a massive boost. All he needed to do was repeat the phrase “Let’s make it 10”, preferably in the hearing of his opponent at changeovers.

Greater experience of Grand Slam success: Djokovic has won four Australian Opens, one Wimbledon and one US Open, as well as 38 other singles titles and the 2014 Championships are his 39th straight Grand Slam, and of those 39 he has now been a semi-finalist 23 times.

Deliberately playing to your opponent’s strength: Djokovic fed Cilic’s feared forehand and though it cost him points a large number of Cilic’s 48 unforced errors were forehands, including the one on match point.

Lateral movement: forcing a giant opponent (Cilic is 6ft 6in) to move back and forth on the baseline and up and down to the net proved a winning strategy, especially the drop shot followed by the lob.

Footwear: when things are beginning to look up early in the fourth set and you want to maintain momentum, and also to stop slipping over, change your shoes. This worked a treat. Djokovic won nine of the last 13 games with new shoes.

Summary of Djokovic's path to semi-final

In reaching the semi-finals Djokovic has won 15 sets and lost three. He has spent 12 hours and eight minutes on court, with his quarter-final against Cilic his longest match so far at three hours 19 minutes, two minutes longer than his second round, four-set victory over Radek Stepanek.

There was a scare for Djokovic in his third round match against Gilles Simon when he fell and hurt his left shoulder but, as he reported, “there was no significant damage that could cause a bigger problem”.

He admitted feeling the injury briefly in his fourth round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but claimed “It is not hampering me when I play, not at all.”

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