Marin Cilic earned his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 win Sunday in Mason, Ohio, beating Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5 in the final at the 2016 Western & Southern Open.
TennisTV shared a replay of Cilic sealing the victory and his joyous celebration after his backhand winner:
He's the first person outside men's tennis' Big Four—Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—to win a Masters 1000 event since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did so at the 2014 Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The Daily Mail's Stuart Fraser provided another interesting stat from Sunday's match:
The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg thinks Sunday's triumph could be a big moment for Cilic:
Tennis writer Chris Goldsmith noted another reason why beating Murray was important:
Cilic didn't get off to a great start, falling behind 2-1 in the first set. He was struggling with his forehand, and Murray exploited that by using a defensive strategy that forced Cilic to produce something special to win each point.
Murray's game plan worked with Cilic playing below his best. Once the 27-year-old Croatian started finding his groove, though, the Wimbledon champion ran into trouble. Cilic reeled off four games in a row to go ahead 5-2, picking up two breaks along the way.
TennisTV provided a replay of an impressive passing shot by Cilic, which illustrated how effective he was from the baseline:
A week ago, Murray was winning Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro. He played six matches in nine days in the men's singles tournament, in addition to three more matches in the two doubles tournaments. Six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker wondered whether fatigue was becoming an issue for Murray in Mason:
Murray clawed back to win the next two games, but Cilic sealed the set with a service hold in the 10th game.
After Murray's brief rest between sets, tennis commentator David Law saw a different player in the second frame:
As well as Murray was playing, he still couldn't find a break. He and Cilic exchanged the first 10 games of the second set. The turning point came in the 11th game, when Cilic finally capitalized on his fifth break-point opportunity.
Cilic didn't allow Murray to take another point as he served out to win the match.
ESPN's LZ Granderson was already looking ahead to the U.S. Open:
Former ATP World Tour pro Greg Rusedski wasn't changing his prediction for the tournament:
Cilic's lone Grand Slam win came in Flushing Meadows, New York, in 2014. He also reached the semifinals in 2015. It would be a stretch to consider him the top contender to beat in the Big Apple, but his Western & Southern Open title proves another deep run could be in the cards.
Sunday's defeat was a setback for Murray, but it didn't change much for him. The U.S. Open is set to begin Aug. 29. Taking a break before the tournament gets underway would be the best thing for Murray. As Becker pointed out, the high volume of tennis he has played over the past couple of weeks looked to be catching up with him.
Murray isn't leaving Mason disappointed.
"I'm very proud of this week," he said, per BBC Sport. "Obviously today didn't go how I would have wanted. I certainly didn't expect to get to the final when I got here. It was a very, very positive week. I'm looking forward to a few days' rest."
Murray wasn't the only player fighting through fatigue Sunday. Cilic talked about how the weather conditions were taking a toll on him, per the ATP World Tour's official site:
I thought I was going to have a good chance if I played well. I didn't feel too tired yesterday in the evening. It was obviously very difficult mentally. It was very humid on the court. We were sweating a lot, so a lot of up and downs, especially in the third set. I had to work out the positive and negative emotions and that took a bit of energy.
"It was a very tough week with all the rain delays, and it wasn't easy," Cilic said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen. "It's really, really something special, and now I'm looking forward to the U.S. Open."