Croatia’s Marin Cilic won his first Grand Slam title with a comprehensive straight-sets win over Kei Nishikori of Japan at the US Open.
Cilic won 6-3 6-3 6-3 to become the first Croat to win one of the four tennis majors since his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, at Wimbledon in 2001.
The 14th seed dominated throughout on a cool, breezy day in New York, hitting 17 aces and dropping serve just once in one hour and 54 minutes.
His victory completes a Grand Slam year that has seen eight different winners of the singles titles across the men’s and women’s games, for the first time since 1998.
“I don’t know how I did it. It was hard work over the last few years and especially this last year,” said Cilic, who missed last year’s US Open as he served a ban for taking a prohibited stimulant.
“My team has brought something to me, especially Goran.
“We’re all working really hard but the most important thing he brought to me was enjoying tennis, and always having fun. I think I played the best tennis of my life.”
Nishikori said: “He was playing really well today, I couldn’t play my tennis. It’s a really tough loss but I’m really happy for first coming to the final.”
Cilic, 25, kept up the momentum he had gathered in brilliant wins over Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer to power though to the title with nine sets in a row.
Nishikori, coached by former French Open champion Michael Chang, had a much more punishing route to the final, taking more than 11 hours to get past fifth seed Milos Raonic, third seed Stan Wawrinka and world number one Novak Djokovic.
Japan’s first Grand Slam finalist was not lacking for support, with huge numbers of his compatriots at Flushing Meadows for the final and a nationwide TV audience tuning in back home at 6am local time.
It was not fatigue or backing that proved decisive in the final, however, as Cilic simply outplayed the 10th seed.