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KEY DATES FOR WIMBLEDON 2017

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July

COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE

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News
Saturday, 15 July 2017 20:27 PM BST
#WimbleWars: Roger Federer or Marin Cilic?
Where will the men's singles final be won and lost? READ MORE

Wimbledon.com's Nick McCarvel and Craig O'Shannessy argue over who will win the men’s singles final. Have your say using #WimbleWars on Twitter!

CRAIG O’SHANNESSY: An improved Cilic most dangerous in ‘beast mode’

Somehow, we all seem to have forgotten Roger Federer’s quarter-final match at The Championships in 2016. His opponent was none other than Marin Cilic.

Cilic had three match points deep in the fourth set, and could have, maybe should have sent the Swiss star packing. Cilic won the first two sets 7-6(4), 6-4, dropped the third set 6-3 and then could not get a return back in play as Federer saved all three match points on his serve.

Here’s what happened on Cilic’s three match points in the fourth:

  • 4-5, 30-40: 104mph unreturned second serve down the middle to Cilic’s forehand
  • 5-6, 30-40: 120mph first serve ace out wide
  • Tie-break, 6-7: 108mph unreturned second serve down the middle to Cilic’s forehand


Cilic won’t make those mistakes again. That near-miss last year will serve him well to take the next step this year and finally defeat Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon - this time for the title.

In many ways, Cilic is playing better this year at SW19 than he was last year. It’s an ominous warning for Federer and his legion of fans.

Let’s start with the return of serve - the area where Cilic desperately needed one more ball in play to defeat the Swiss last year.

In 2016, Cilic made 68 per cent of his returns for the tournament. This year he is a click higher at 69 per cent. There’s your one more return right there.

In 2016 at The Championships, Cilic won 49 per cent of his opponents’ second serve points. That’s jumped up to 57 per cent this year. Cilic won 68 points at the net through his first five rounds at The Championships in 2016. This year, he has shown much more commitment to the net, winning 91 points at the front of the court during his first five matches.

He won 55 per cent of his second serve points in 2016. He is at 58 per cent this year. I could keep going, but you get the picture…

The 2017 version of Cilic at Wimbledon is an improved version. There is no denying that Federer has also raised his level this season, but nobody can stay on the court when Cilic enters “beast mode”. So many indicators suggest that is exactly what is going to happen in Sunday’s final.

 

NICK McCARVEL: In-form Federer sure bet for crown

If you told me that Roger Federer was facing off against Marin Cilic - against whom he has a 6-1 career head-to-head record - in the Wimbledon final and I didn’t know their respective paths to the championship bout, I (and most others) would say this is Federer’s match to win - and lose.

But what makes the Federer case that much more convincing is his devastating form over the past two weeks at the All England Club. He’s looked like the Federer of old, the Federer who won here five times in a row, from 2003 to 2007, and the undisputed King of Grass.

He’s been notched in at every level, including the serve, the forehand, that newly-lethal backhand and his attacking game. He won 23 of 31 points at the net against Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals. The round before? Eighteen of 22 against Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

He isn’t coming to the net every chance he gets, but when he does he’s executing at an alarmingly high level. That means Cilic won’t want to fall behind in baseline rallies. If he does? Roger pounces.

The Federer serve has been unshakeable too. He’s won 83 per cent of points behind his first serve and 66 per cent of points behind his second serve. That first-serve success rate is already impressive, but add in the second and he’s nearly impossible to break. His previous six foes have broken just four times from 20 opportunities so far.

Federer hasn’t made the final without dropping a single set here at Wimbledon since 2008, when he lost to Rafael Nadal in that famous encounter. His last straight-sets effort through six matches at a major was the 2015 US Open.

The numbers themselves are overwhelming for Roger, but then you take into account the intangibles. It’s his 11th Wimbledon final. For Cilic, it’s a first in 11 appearances here. He’s now made 29 major finals overall compared with just a second for the 2014 US Open champion. Surely the occasion feels like Roger’s to win.

He’ll be aware of his lone loss to Cilic, however, which came at that 2014 US Open in the semi-finals in a match where the Croatian played his ball-bashing best. Cilic has the ability to zone, as he did for two sets against Federer in last year’s quarter-finals before bowing out and losing in five.

This has been Federer’s tournament to win since the start, however, and it still is.

An eighth Wimbledon crown and 19th major title overall? Yes, that’s what we’ll see on Sunday. Roger will reign once again.

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