Marin Cilic returns to Sam Querrey their men’s singles semifinal match on Day 11 at Wimbledon on Friday. (Alastair Grant / Associated Press)
The key, for both players, was to deal with the big serve. Marin Cilic did it better.
The seventh-seeded Croat advanced to his second major final by beating Sam Querrey 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 Friday on Centre Court. He next faces Roger Federer or Tomas Berdych in Sunday’s final at the All England Club.
Cilic and Querrey, both 6-foot-6, used their powerful serves to dominate most of the match. Neither even had a break point in the first set.
“Sam came out serving huge, hitting big,” Cilic said.
Querrey, a Thousand Oaks High graduate, took the lead after a brief delay late in the opening tiebreaker. With the score 6-6, stewards entered the stands to attend to a woman who needed assistance. The break only lasted a couple of minutes, but Querrey won both points when play resumed, with Cilic missing a pair of backhands.
Cilic finally managed the first break of serve in the second set, and then went up another break in the third. But Querrey broke back to force another tiebreaker.
In the fourth set, it was Querrey who got an early break. But Cilic bounced back and then broke for the fourth time in the final game.
“After that [first tiebreaker], I was just a little bit better on the return games,” Cilic said. “I was making him [play more] on his service games.”
He finished with 25 aces and won 88% of the points on his first serve. Cilic also had 70 winners and only 21 unforced errors. Querrey had 46 winners and 26 unforced errors to go with 13 aces.
Querrey, who knocked then-No. 1 Novak Djokovic out of last year’s tournament, is the first American since Andy Roddick in 2009 to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal.
Cilic is now 5-0 against Querrey and 3-0 against the American at Wimbledon. Their last match at the All England Club, in 2012, went five sets and Cilic won 17-15 in the fifth.
Cilic is the second Croat player to reach the Wimbledon final. Goran Ivanisevic won the title in 2001.
Federer, in search of an eighth Wimbledon title, was to play Berdych next on Centre Court.
Federer is 18-6 against Berdych, but the 11th-seeded Czech beat Federer in the quarterfinals during his run to the Wimbledon final in 2010.