Saturday 24 February 2018 / 01:10 PM

Preview of the US Open Final

Well, that didn’t exactly go as expected, did it?

Despite the fact that we all know anything can happen in tennis, it’s fair to say that no one seriously expected Sunday’s US Open final to feature even one of the two finalists it’s going to; but the fact that Marin Cilic will face Kei Nishikori on Monday just highlights how competitive the men’s game is in this day and age.

Federer crushed by Cilic

Not only did Roger Federer lose unexpectedly to Marin Cilic; he was totally decimated. The Swiss was beaten in straight sets – and given that almost everyone was expecting him to roll over the Croat with consummate ease, this has come as something of a shock.

Cilic’s victory has earned him his first ever place in a Grand Slam final, and in the aggressive, swashbuckling form he was in against Federer, there’s every chance that he’ll leave Flushing Meadows with his maiden Grand Slam title.

Djokovic doesn’t even take it to five sets

While Federer was decimated by Cilic, Djokovic was given similar treatment at the hands of Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori. The 24-year-old – coached by Michael Chang – saw the Serb off in four sets, and he will now take his place in Monday’s final alongside Cilic as Japan’s first ever Grand Slam finalist.

Which debutant will prevail?

These two massive upsets have resulted in a final that no one would have bet on before this tournament began, and for good reason. This is the first time for nine years that a Grand Slam final has not featured Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, and this is now a wonderful opportunity for one of these players to write their name into tennis folklore. But who will it be?

The stats suggest Cilic – in seven meetings between the pair, the Croat has won five – but it’s interesting to note that Nishikori has clinched the last two games that these two have played on hardcourt, the surface that they will do battle on this Monday.

In truth though, no one really knows. After all, no one expected either of these two men to even be in the final, and it would take a brave man to take a serious guess as to which of the two finalists will end up as the victor.

One thing’s for sure though, these two semi-final upsets have certainly mixed things up in the men’s game; questions are being asked about whether the domination of the ‘Big Four’ is on its way out; and the more that players like Nishikori and Cilic prevail, the more likely it seems that the era of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer dominating the tour seems to be drawing to a close.

Of course, that’s not to say that these players will not be back. After all, we’ve written off Roger Federer enough times to know that the former No.1 is as unpredictable as they come, and it seems likely that Djokovic’s shock loss will galvanise the Serb, which should make for an interesting end to the year – and a fascinating start to next season.

Now though, Cilic and Nishikori should be congratulated – let’s hope they put on a hell of a show on Monday.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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