Cilic makes history
Marin Cilic became the first Croatian man or woman to reach an Australian Open final after beating unseeded Briton Kyle Edmund 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-2.
A beaten semi-finalist here in 2010, Cilic had since failed to go beyond the fourth round, but now finds himself in Sunday’s showpiece after producing a controlled, professional performance to eliminate Edmund.
Too strong in the opener, Cilic claimed two breaks of serve while remaining solid behind his own deliveries, winning 12 out of 14 first serve points en route to claiming a one set lead.
Edmund, meanwhile, had been angered by a foot fault call, and was struggling to find the tennis that got him to this stage, perhaps feeling the after-effects of a career best run at a Grand Slam.
But the 23-year-old showed admirable grit in the second set, going toe-to-toe with Cilic before taking him to a tie-break.
There was a perhaps a window of opportunity for Edmund too, having got to 3-3 in the tie-break after planting an excellent backhand winner up the line.
But Cilic’s experience soon told, and the No.6 seed took the tie-break 7-4 to claim a two set lead.
Edmund had never before recovered from that sort of deficit, and there was a sense of inevitability about the final outcome in the third set.
Nevertheless, there were still some flashes of brilliance from the Briton’s racket, and despite defeat he can reflect on a phenomenally successful tournament that bodes well for the future.
But he was simply unable to make any inroads on Cilic's serve, and the Croatian broke Edmund twice more to not only seal his place in the final, but also rise to a career high ranking of No.3 in the world.
"I just stayed mentally focused and tried to play every single point," said Cilic. "It was extremely crucial in the tiebreak to keep that pressure."
"Today was a different intensity than my match with Rafa. I think overall I’m feeling really good. Now I have two days off so it’s going to be a nice one on Sunday."
Awaiting Cilic in the final will be either Roger Federer or Hyeon Chung, who face off in the second men's semi-final on Friday night.