Unable to play in the US Open a year ago because of a doping suspension, Marin Cilic is now the tournament's champion. Croatia's Cilic won his first Grand Slam title by beating Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 today at Flushing Meadows, using 17 aces—including four in one game—and the same powerful ground strokes that helped him eliminate Roger Federer in the semifinals. "This is [from] all the hard work in these last several years—and especially this last year," Cilic said during the on-court ceremony, when he kissed his silver trophy and collected a check for $3 million.
The match didn't hold much intrigue. Cilic won 19 of the last 20 points he served in the opening set, helped by three aces at up to 134mph. The biggest problem for Nishikori, really, was there were not many extended ground-stroke exchanges—and even when there were, he tended to lose them. He was off, whether because of the wind, the accumulated fatigue from a pair of four-hour-plus victories over No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 5 Milos Raonic, or perhaps knowing what was at stake for him, his country, and his continent. Cilic wound up with twice as many winners, 38-19. (Read more US Open Tennis stories.)