Murray had dominated the pair’s previous encounters, winning 11 and losing only two to the current world number 14, but the Croat had pushed him close in their last meeting in the semifinals at The Queen’s Club in June.
Murray misses chances early on
The Olympic champion began the final, just one week on from his triumph in Rio and opened with a comfortable service hold. In very breezy conditions the Brit forced Cilic into errors, as a backhand into the net brought up break point for Murray. The Croat saved the chance with a heavy forehand winner and went on to hit another heavy blow off of that wing to hold.
Murray drew errors from his opponent to move swiftly to 0-30, but Cilic came back strongly, closing the game with a fourth point in a row as the Croat struck an inside out forehand cross court winner. That recovery spurred on the 12th seed as he punished a Murray second serve, ripping it straight onto the baseline right at the Brit’s feet to move to 15-30. Two huge forehand winners back to back sealed the first break of the final for Cilic as he moved 3-2 in front.
Cilic takes charge
Murray, currently on the best winning streak of his career with 22 wins, looked as though the run was beginning to catch up with him as he began to look fatigued. The Brit made a careless judgment not to put away a volley with enough conviction, thus allowing the Croat to hit a passing shot on the runs to move to 0-30. The world number two brought the score back to 30-30 before facing another break point. The 12th seed could not capitalise on his first chance, but was gifted a double break after Murray netted a fairly routine volley.
Cilic, serving at 5-2, 15-0, surprisingly collapsed, not utilizing the new balls as Murray was allowed to begin his bid to comeback in the opening set as the Brit broke back. A quick fire hold to love from the top seed put Cilic under pressure as he had to serve for the set for a second time. However, the 12th seed stepped up, holding convincingly to take the set 6-4 in 41 minutes.
The Croat edges a closely contested second set
Having dropped a set for the first time this week Murray battled hard on serve to keep himself in front on the scoreboard at 1-0 and 2-1. In the fourth game a brilliant cross court passing shot on the run got the Brit to 30-30, but Cilic replied with a forehand winner and cry of “allez” as he levelled the score at 2-2.
Both players continued to hold serve until the world number two came under serious fire in the eleventh game. Cilic brought up two break point opportunities but missed a guilt edged chance, as he netted what looked to be a routine forehand put away winner. That miss proved not to be costly as despite the Croat misfiring on three more break point chances with forehand misses Murray broke down on the fifth chance to hand the break to the 12th seed.
Murray looked incredibly rattled after receiving a time violation during that game and took it out on umpire Fergus Murphy at the change of ends, gesticulating his frustration with the umpire’s decisions during the match. The Brit never recovered from that lapse, as Cilic romped home, holding to love to secure his first Masters 1000 title in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.