By Chris Oddo | Thursday, August 7, 2014
Roger Federer failed to convert on his first six match points but made good on lucky number seven to take down Marin Cilic in a wild three-setter.
Photo Source: Ronald Martinez/ Getty
Roger Federer turned a potentially demoralizing defeat into an uplifting victory on Thursday in Toronto, scraping by an in-form Marin Cilic, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup.
"I got kind of caught with my footwork" Federer said. "It's something that looks so simple, I know. But then I guess I wanted to hit it too short even though I didn't need to. Then it's too late.
Montreal: Williams Sisters Reach Quarterfinals
"Nerve wracking," Federer told reporters after the match. "Look, I mean, it's nice winning those kind of matches, because I also lost a bunch in my career."
The scoreline does little to describe the sheer horror that Federer must have felt in the second set, when he failed to convert on six match points in the tenth game, and eventually dropped the tiebreaker before heading off court to regroup.
In the epic game, Cilic somehow managed to hold his serve through 19 minutes, 12 deuces and the aforementioned six match points, while teetering on a tenuous precipice that saw him meek and indecisive on many points, but bold and resourceful on the points that mattered.
Federer pushed the hard-hitting Croat, probing for ways to close the match, forcing Cilic to react to many different looks and variations, but when he failed to knock off a very makeable volley on his fifth match point after doing everything right to take control of the point, an air of resignation started to seep in.
"That to me wasn't the bad part. I think the forehand I had later, the other two points I was in the rally, I even I think had the upper hand, those maybe hurt me actually a bit more."
Federer made a great crosscourt forehand return on the sixth match point, and followed it up with a few more pinpoint groundstrokes, but he got a little too eager on his final ball, running way around his backhand to attempt a down-the-line forehand, which sailed wide.
Eventually, Cilic notched the confidence-building hold, and rode the momentum all the way through the second-set tiebreaker and into the third set.
Federer's next opportunity wouldn’t come until nine games into the third set, after he had rallied back from 4-4, 40-0 down. He knocked a backhand into the tape on his first break point, but on the second, he executed a perfect down-the-line forehand that kissed the sideline and gave him a chance to serve for the match.
With the rowdy, pro-maestro crowd ready to erupt, Federer made quick work of his final service game, and 57 minutes after his sixth match point, Federer had his seventh, while serving at 40-15.
A high-kicking second serve forced the Cilic backhand error long, and finally, it was over.
Federer saved both break points he faced in the two hour and 39-minute encounter, including one early in the third set that could have been the difference-maker.
He was 1-10 on break points, finally cashing in on his final one to claim his 5th victory in five career matches against Cilic.
If Federer wins the title in Toronto, he will become the first player in tennis history to own 300 Masters 1000 titles. His record currently stands at 297-88.
Federer improves to 42-8 in 2014, while Cilic drops to 38-15.
David Ferrer will be Federer’s quarterfinal opponent. Federer owns a 14-0 lifetime edge against the world No. 7.