Infotainment Factory: Prophetic Cilic sees Tomic fall

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Monday, 14 January 2019

Prophetic Cilic sees Tomic fall


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When told before his first round match that Bernard Tomic rated himself just a one out of 10 chance to upset him, Marin Cilic deadpanned his reply: “Optimistic.”

The world number seven had every right to be confident. A former US Open champion, the 30-year-old Croatian is one of the most consistent grand slam performers on the tour.

As recently as last year he made the final here, only to fall to the mighty Swiss master Roger Federer.

And so his cheeky response to Channel Nine proved prophetic as he swept to a 6-2 6-4 7-6 victory over one of the most enigmatic players in the men’s game.

Cilic downs Tomic

The recent renaissance of Tomic stalled but not before showing enough signs that his climb back up the rankings can continue, at least into the top 20.

Make no mistake, there were times throughout this first round encounter where Cilic, in good form, was feeling the pinch. By the end of the match there was a case to be made that the scoreline flattered him and perhaps he should have at least been stretched to a fourth.

Tomic was the better player for much of the second set and very nearly snatched the third.

The difference between the two players was more often than not small but when a point that really mattered to the outcome of the match arrived inevitably it was Cilic who rose to the occasion.

Cilic downs Tomic

In that point is the gulf in class between a talented but often unmotivated 26-year-old and a player who has squeezed all that he has out of his talent. Jim Courier would describe Cilic as “a maximiser”.

So it was that when Tomic was pressing to square the match as the second set meandered towards its conclusion, Cilic leaned on all his big match experience and found the answers.

Big first serves when he needed them when down break points, aggressive baseline rallies that moved an opponent who sometimes looks like a giraffe on rollerskates from side to side until the court opened and the opportunity was seized.

Tomic created break point opportunities in the fifth game and again in the ninth.

Cilic downs Tomic

Cilic worked the serve clock down so far that at one point he was issued a time violation warning. Still he remained unfazed. Still he played the right point to find his way to safety.

Then in the 10th game it was the Croatian’s turn to up the ante and pile the pressure on as the stakes got higher. Tomic saved one set point but cracked on the second.

After all that pressure absorption and spending much of the set chasing his tail, Cilic had the only point that mattered and he was on his way.

From that point on Tomic’s “one out of 10” chance of victory looked a huge stretch but still the crowd stayed and cheered and watched, perhaps to find out if the player who only a year ago infamously told the massive TV audience watching ‘I’m A Celebrity’ that he was going home to “count his millions” had matured.

Down two sets to love a sense of inevitability hung over the result but what the Aussie could ill afford to do was give headline writers the opportunity to roll out the ‘Tomic the tank engine’ line that somewhere deep inside must eat away at him.

https://twitter.com/wwos/status/1084749621312679936

If he can take anything from this match it’s that he stayed in the fight to the end. Yes there was the odd ill-advised drop shot to bail out of a rally but there was no sign of the churlish smirk that has in the past accompanied his career-defining disappointments.

Indeed, as Tomic dug in his luck took a turn with Cilic losing a serve after his second time violation and then losing the advantage of a service break when Tomic clipped a brilliant backhand winner to get the third set back on an even keel.

If the enormous roar of the crowd that spurred him on to a hold to love the following game didn’t give him a sense of reward for his effort then he straight up isn’t human.

Then, a couple of games later, came the tiebreaker.

Cilic downs Tomic

A mini break to Tomic on the first point lifted the crowd again and an unlikely fourth set was suddenly on the cards.

Sensing his night might go longer than planned, Cilic upped the ante again and played some of the highest quality tennis of the match, ending it before Tomic could properly get his teeth in it.

As the vanquished walked off the arena, towel hanging on around his shoulders, sweat dripping from his brow, a member of the crowd yelled out, “well played Bernard” with the kind of gusto he very rarely would have heard after a first round loss.

With a thumbs up, a smile and a wave he disappeared. Beaten but not disgraced and perhaps even ready to forge a path to a rebirth as a player his nation can be proud of.

When told before his first round match that Bernard Tomic rated himself just a one out of 10 chance to upset him, Marin Cilic deadpanned his reply: “Optimistic.”

The world number seven had every right to be confident. A former US Open champion, the 30-year-old Croatian is one of the most consistent grand slam performers on the tour.

As recently as last year he made the final here, only to fall to the mighty Swiss master Roger Federer.

And so his cheeky response to Channel Nine proved prophetic as he swept to a 6-2 6-4 7-6 victory over one of the most enigmatic players in the men’s game.

Cilic downs Tomic

The recent renaissance of Tomic stalled but not before showing enough signs that his climb back up the rankings can continue, at least into the top 20.

Make no mistake, there were times throughout this first round encounter where Cilic, in good form, was feeling the pinch. By the end of the match there was a case to be made that the scoreline flattered him and perhaps he should have at least been stretched to a fourth.

Tomic was the better player for much of the second set and very nearly snatched the third.

The difference between the two players was more often than not small but when a point that really mattered to the outcome of the match arrived inevitably it was Cilic who rose to the occasion.

Cilic downs Tomic

In that point is the gulf in class between a talented but often unmotivated 26-year-old and a player who has squeezed all that he has out of his talent. Jim Courier would describe Cilic as “a maximiser”.

So it was that when Tomic was pressing to square the match as the second set meandered towards its conclusion, Cilic leaned on all his big match experience and found the answers.

Big first serves when he needed them when down break points, aggressive baseline rallies that moved an opponent who sometimes looks like a giraffe on rollerskates from side to side until the court opened and the opportunity was seized.

Tomic created break point opportunities in the fifth game and again in the ninth.

Cilic downs Tomic

Cilic worked the serve clock down so far that at one point he was issued a time violation warning. Still he remained unfazed. Still he played the right point to find his way to safety.

Then in the 10th game it was the Croatian’s turn to up the ante and pile the pressure on as the stakes got higher. Tomic saved one set point but cracked on the second.

After all that pressure absorption and spending much of the set chasing his tail, Cilic had the only point that mattered and he was on his way.

From that point on Tomic’s “one out of 10” chance of victory looked a huge stretch but still the crowd stayed and cheered and watched, perhaps to find out if the player who only a year ago infamously told the massive TV audience watching ‘I’m A Celebrity’ that he was going home to “count his millions” had matured.

Down two sets to love a sense of inevitability hung over the result but what the Aussie could ill afford to do was give headline writers the opportunity to roll out the ‘Tomic the tank engine’ line that somewhere deep inside must eat away at him.

https://twitter.com/wwos/status/1084749621312679936

If he can take anything from this match it’s that he stayed in the fight to the end. Yes there was the odd ill-advised drop shot to bail out of a rally but there was no sign of the churlish smirk that has in the past accompanied his career-defining disappointments.

Indeed, as Tomic dug in his luck took a turn with Cilic losing a serve after his second time violation and then losing the advantage of a service break when Tomic clipped a brilliant backhand winner to get the third set back on an even keel.

If the enormous roar of the crowd that spurred him on to a hold to love the following game didn’t give him a sense of reward for his effort then he straight up isn’t human.

Then, a couple of games later, came the tiebreaker.

Cilic downs Tomic

A mini break to Tomic on the first point lifted the crowd again and an unlikely fourth set was suddenly on the cards.

Sensing his night might go longer than planned, Cilic upped the ante again and played some of the highest quality tennis of the match, ending it before Tomic could properly get his teeth in it.

As the vanquished walked off the arena, towel hanging on around his shoulders, sweat dripping from his brow, a member of the crowd yelled out, “well played Bernard” with the kind of gusto he very rarely would have heard after a first round loss.

With a thumbs up, a smile and a wave he disappeared. Beaten but not disgraced and perhaps even ready to forge a path to a rebirth as a player his nation can be proud of.

http://bit.ly/2SU0Kqy
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