Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) and Croatia's Marin Cilic pose with their trophies after Federer won their men's singles final match, during the presentation on the last day of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 16, 2017. Roger Federer won 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) and Croatia's Marin Cilic pose with their trophies after Federer won their men's singles final match, during the presentation on the last day of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 16, 2017. Roger Federer won 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

Revenge match? Daunting Fed record Cilic can’t shake

EVEN though one of his potential opponents is arguably the greatest player of all-time and the other is an unheralded youngster, Marin Cilic refuses to say who he'd rather play in Sunday's Australian Open final.

But if it's Roger Federer Cilic meets in the big dance, he won't see the match-up as a shot at revenge for his heavy defeat in last year's Wimbledon final.

In advancing to the last two with a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win over Great Britain's Kyle Edmund on Thursday night, Cilic became the first Croatian to make an Australian Open decider - male or female.

Naturally the questions came as to who he would rather face, with most of the questionnaires trying to lean the 29-year-old into declaring it is surprise packet Hyeon Chung he would prefer to see on the other side of the net.

But Cilic wouldn't bite.

"I would like to play against the player that I would beat in the final," Cilic said with a smirk.

"You have Roger as a player who has been one of the most successful at these stages of grand slam.

"And also at grand slam level I think his performances were such a long period of time, especially when it gets to quarterfinals, semi-finals, finals, he's getting better and better and better and playing great tennis.

"So with him it's always a big challenge.

"With Chung, I played him few times, and looking at his game, I think he has improved a lot in the last 6-12 months.

"And he has, I think, matured, I think, playing really, really good tennis, entertaining to watch. Amazing defensive player and also hitting big from both sides.

"You know, it's no answer for you, but I'm going to focus on myself."

Croatia's Marin Cilic celebrates beating Britain's Kyle Edmund.
Croatia's Marin Cilic celebrates beating Britain's Kyle Edmund.

If Cilic were to play Federer he would carry in a daunting 8-1 losing record against the 19-time grand slam champion, including a straight sets loss in July's Wimbledon decider.

However, Cilic did defeat Federer in the 2014 US Open semi-final as the Croatian marched to his sole major title in New York.

The sixth seed would go into a Federer showdown as a rank outsider, however would start favourite against Chung if the South Korean were to cause a massive upset against Federer tonight.

Against Chung, Cilic holds a 3-0 head-to-head record, but the pair has not met since the 2016 Brisbane International.

Cilic said the circumstances surrounding his All England Club defeat by Federer last year - he suffered badly from a nasty blister on his left foot - meant it would not be a personal score for him to settle if the pair was to meet again here.

"I'm not looking at it as a revenge," he said.

"I mean, it was on me that I couldn't give my best in Wimbledon, and that happens.

"With Rafa (Nadal) towards the end of the (quarterfinal), and even today I think with Kyle, I think he had either small injury or fatigue, I had no idea, towards the end of the match.

"Those things happen. I mean, it's that kind of a sport.

South Korea's Hyeon Chung celebrates beating Tennys Sandgren.
South Korea's Hyeon Chung celebrates beating Tennys Sandgren.

"But for me it's great to again be in the final, giving myself another opportunity to win a grand slam. I'm playing very good tennis, and definitely very excited for the rest of 2018."

While that fitness cloud hampered him going into his last slam final, this time around Cilic says he has a clean bill of health.

"I'm feeling really, really good physically, even though I had few matches that went more than three hours.

"But overall, feeling really good. I think I played great tournament so far with my level of tennis.

"I think I improved it comparing to end of the last year. I'm playing much, much more aggressive.

"I'm feeling that I am, for most of the shots, hitting them really, really good. From the return, moving, forehand, backhand, serving, I think everything is in good, solid spot.

"Feeling really excited about the final, too."


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