Novak Djokovic vs. Marin Cilic
This is a tremendous match. Marin Cilic is riding a 12 match winning streak at Flushing Meadows. The 6’6″ defending champion has worked his way through the draw and sent a message that poor health rather than being overawed is the reason for his spotty 2015 results. Novak Djokovic won the 2011 US Open title and posted runner-up finishes in New York in 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2013.
Novak Djokovic is a dominating world #1 who holds 9 career major titles. The pursuit of a 10th major and 2nd US Open title is noteworthy. As good as Nole is on hard courts, his 1-4 record in US Open finals can only improve if he claims a few more trophies in New York.
Marin Cilic has the tools to beat anyone on tour. He can serve in a dominating fashion. His groundstrokes allow the Croatian to control many rallies. Marin can also muscle through tough serves and ground strokes hit to him and manufacture something positive from defensive positions. Cilic is also among the best movers of players in his height range on tour.
Djokovic’s strategy vs. Cilic is likely going to revolve around pressing the big man’s serve. If Nole can get traction and break serve a few times, his superior movement and ball striking should carry the day. Cilic needs to consider what he did versus Djokovic at Wimbledon 2014 to push the Serbian to 5 sets. If Cilic can dictate play and be a bully on court as Wawrinka was during portions of the 2015 Roland Garros final, the defending champion may find himself one match away from an improbable title defense.
My Prediction: Novak Djokovic d. Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6, 7-5
Djokovic is likely to win because he moves so well and has the best return of serve in tennis. Novak simply plays airtight tennis. Nole should win so long as he avoids a rough patch such as what he experienced during the second set versus Feliciano Lopez. It is possible that Cilic could bully Novak and control the match with first strike tennis, but the odds are heavily against that strategy holding up over 4 or 5 sets.