Andy Murray has extended his longest ever match streak to 22 after a complete performance against Milos Raonic of Canada at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati on Saturday. In a match marred by rain delays the Scott prevailed 6-3, 6-3 against the Wimbledon finalist who has now lost all five matches between them in 2016.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion Murray who notched his 600th career win during the week will now be looking for 13th Masters title and a third in Cincinnati, where he won in 2008 and 2011, beating Novak Djokovic on both occasions.
Having won this year in Rome on clay, his maiden title in Italy, and an unprecedented fifth Queen’s club title, followed by big titles at Wimbledon and Olympics, the Dunblane native would be looking for his fifth title of the year. He faces a rejuvenated Marin Cilic of Croatia who came from behind to beat Bulgaria’s Grigor Dmitrov in a 2hr 30minute marathon 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 finishing the match just before 2am.
On a rain interrupted day Murray and Raonic played only four points in the first game before the rain delay, but Murray wasted little time to get the break in the opening game which resumed with Raonic trailing 15-40. Murray was made to fight in all of his first three service games saving two break points in the process.
The World No.2 would get another break of serve to claim the first set 6-3, and then go on to break once in the second set to clinch the win in 90 minutes, extending his head to head record to 8-3 against the fourth seed from Canada whom he beat in the Wimbledon final and also in a five set semi final in Melbourne at the Australian Open in January.
The final marks the 34th straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event that has featured a member of the Big Four. The last time that neither Federer, Nadal, Djokovic nor Murray featured in one was at the Bercy Open in France in 2012 when the Spaniard David Ferrer beat Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz for his maiden Masters 1000 title. Murray fired 18 winners and saved all three break points he faced in the match.
The 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic who earlier this week announced that Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman would be his new coach will make his maiden appearance at a Masters 1000 final and seek a 15th tour-level title and a first in 2016. Since his triumph in New York, he has lifted only two titles at Moscow (2014 and 2015) and finished runner up in Marseille (loss to Kyrgios) and in Geneva (lost to Wawrinka) this year. He also trails 2-11 to Murray in their head to head, his last win coming in February 2014 at Rotterdam indoors.
Grigor Dimitrov, once ranked a lofty eight in the ATP rankings in 2014, looked to have sealed his maiden appearance in a Masters series 1000 final as he broke the Croat’s serve in the second game of the decisive set after the pair had split the first two sets with only one break of serve. Dimitrov lost the advantage right away but then broke in the sixth game only to lose the advantage.
Cilic reeled off four consecutive points from 0-30 down in the eleventh game to break serve for the third time in the decider before serving out the match which ended at 1:35AM local time at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. The match lasted two hours and twenty three minutes and Cilic escaped despite serving only 44% first serves. Both had 7 aces and 5 double faults and Cilic won 93 points to Dmitrov’s 90. Both were tied at 89 apiece before the last game which Cilic served out to 15.
Murray is playing at the top of his game, but Cilic looks completely rejuvenated after his disappointing loss to Federer at Wimbledon where he led by two sets. Andy Murray is 50-6 for the year and Cilic improves to 32-17 in 2016. Absolutely vital for the Croat to win the opening set as he takes to the court barely 14 hours after his semi final win. Needs better first serve percentage. Murray should win this in either two tight sets or maybe three.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]