Wild Card Novak Djokovic to Play Top Seed Marin Cilic for Queen’s Club Title
(June 23, 2018) Novak Djokovic has reached his first final since last summer in Eastbourne, by defeating Jeremy Chardy 7-6(5), 6-4 The 12-time major champion came into the tournament as a wild card. It’s he first time that he’s played the Queen’s Club event since 2010.
“Yeah, feels great, first one since Eastbourne, I think, last year,” Djokovic said to media. “So it’s been a year. It is a special moment for me. Obviously I have been hoping to get here and working hard for it. So now that I get a chance to fight for a trophy in one of the biggest tournaments on the grass court, grass court season, it means a lot to me. I’m really pleased with the way I have played throughout the whole week.”
This will be his second Queen’s Club final, he last made it to the final two in 2008, when he lost to Rafael Nadal.
The Serb will be playing the top seed Marin Cilic of Croatia. Cilic reached his fourth Queen’s Club final beating Nick Kyrgios 7-6(3), 7-6(4). Cilic, last year’s Wimbledon finalist won the tournament in 2012.
“From before the match, I knew that Nick was going to be serving big,” said Cilic to media. “He served really big in his first three matches, especially his last two. He was serving more than 30 aces in a match and both of those matches were in two sets. I was expecting that it’s going to end up being either a point or two or even a wrong decision that can make a big difference. I was keeping myself really focused, really composed, patient.
“I felt that I was serving really good using all parts of the court really well. Even whatever was coming on my own end off the returns, I was being very focused and had to take care of those balls really well. That proved to be really good.
“I’m happy with the performance, especially as consistently to serve on that big level. It’s not easy and also when you know that you are under pressure to hold your serve most of the time. That’s another big plus. I’m really pleased with the mental approach to the game and also executing it really well.”
“He’s playing well,” Cilic said in regard to Djokovic. ‘He’s starting to play better.
‘You can see that he’s, you know, fighting hard on the court, not letting any points go by him. You can see that mentality is back and he’s playing good tennis.
“I think on grass especially he was returning great throughout the week, and that’s one of his big weapons. You know, obviously of course depends all on him how he feels on the court, if he feels that he’s at 100% physically, as well, because of the elbow, things like that, but what he’s showing and what I’m seeing from the side, he’s playing better and better, which is great to see.”
“I think still (need) to play my own game. I played great matches throughout the week, four very solid matches, and just keep going. It’s great for me that I have another shot for the title, as well, and, you know, last year was great final. I lost it with having a match point.
“It’s great to play again for the trophy, especially knowing that the tournament was really strong with the field this year. You know, just shows that I’m in good form, and hopefully I can definitely play really good tennis tomorrow.”
Djokovic has a 14-1 record against Cilic.
“It’s quite different playing him on grass.” Said Djokovic. “We have played in Wimbledon, but he’s just a different player, I think. In last couple of years he’s been in the form of his life and reaching his highest ranking in a career. And finals of Wimbledon, finals of Australian Open.
“You know, he’s probably been playing the best that he’s ever played. Grass court suits him very well. Big serve. Just big game overall.
“I have known him, you know, very well on and off the court. A lot of respect for each other. We are good friends. We practice a lot. There is not much secrets, so to say, between ourselves. We know each other’s game quite well.
“I think the key will be obviously try to return well, because that’s his biggest weapon, his serve. He uses it so accurately on the grass. And obviously trying to get as many free points on my own serve.
“So it’s easier said than done, but I’m, you know, going into tomorrow’s final knowing that it’s going to be really tough match for me but a great challenge and I’m working for it.”
“I’m just glad to keep this going, and I don’t want to celebrate too much,” Djokovic added. “You know, even though I’m really happy I’m in the finals, I just want to keep building this momentum.”