Australian Open Final 2018 Preview: Hot Rog to Prove Too Classy for Courageous Cilic

Roger Federer on Court at the Australian Open Tennis
Image Credit: Rob Young via flickr (cropped)

It was just six months ago when Marin Cilic sat slumped in his chair at Wimbledon, reduced to tears due to a huge blister on his foot and by Roger Federer’s brilliance.

The Swiss ace claimed the 19th grand slam title of his career at Cilic’s expense, with the Croatian visibly distraught at his inability to put up any resistance in the showpiece match at SW19.

The good news for Cilic is that he has rebounded well from his desperate day on Centre Court; subsequently reaching four ATP Tour semi-finals before progressing all the way to the final at the year’s first major, the Australian Open.

The bad news is that his opponent in Sunday’s finale will be one Mr R. Federer.

So can Cilic exorcise his Wimbledon demons, or will Federer once again make his big day a miserable one.

Like a Fine Wine

Fine Wine
Credit: Judy Gallagher Flickr

He might be knocking on a bit in sporting terms, but 36-year-old Federer is playing some of the best tennis of his life at present.

The Swiss star is yet to drop a set in this year’s Aussie Open, and has only been taken as far as a tie break in three of his seventeen sets played. His most eye-catching performance came overnight, where he dismantled the young Korean hopeful Hyeon Chung so badly that the 21-year-old waved the white flag after barely two sets, citing injury.

Like a fine wine, Federer is ominously improving with age.

Cilic’s progress to the final has been slightly harder fought, but there can be no doubt that the world number six is playing some fantastic tennis right now.

He’s had a tough draw too, with the likes of Vasek Pospisil, Ryan Harrison and Pablo Carreno-Busta all highly capable players. His five-set quarter final victory over Rafa Nadal was also illuminating; he stuck with the Spaniard early doors and simply outlasted him: Nadal’s increasingly creaky body giving up on him with Cilic ahead 2-0 in the deciding set.

Kyle Edmund looked set to complete one of the unlikeliest rags to riches stories in sport when he found his way to the semi-finals, but there he met a focused Cilic who had no qualms in playing party pooper. In a thoroughly professional performance, it was the Croat who dominated and took the spoils in straight sets.

A Little Bit of History Repeating

Tennis punters have a number of different signals available to them to inform their wagers: current form, playing styles, conditions, tournament history, motivation levels….it all goes into the mixing pot.

Another telling statistic can often be the head-to-head records, which are typically far more important in individual sports than they are in team-based pursuits. These can identify positions of both psychological and technical advantage of one player over another.

The fact that Federer holds an 8-1 head-to-head lead over Cilic simply cannot be ignored then. That shows an almost complete dominance from the world number two, and is added further weight by the fact that the Croatian’s sole victory over the grand master came way back in 2014!

If that’s enough to have you scrambling for your nearest betting shop then hold your horses for one second. Cilic has taken at least one set in five of those nine meetings, and actually led Federer by one set to nil the last time they met at the tail-end of 2017 before going down 1-2.

Factor in Cilic’s motivation for revenge – he is going to be frothing at the mouth to get one over on his opponent here, and perhaps we have the recipe for a closer match than most would anticipate.

Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic Betting Tips

Federer is as short as 1/5 with some bookmakers to secure his 20th grand slam crown, and it really is hard to argue with that given all we know.

But there is scope for Cilic to come away from this contest with plenty of dignity, and if his service game remains solid under pressure he could push Federer to a tie-break or two.

The Over 3.5 Sets line is available at 8/11, and that looks like a fine investment assuming that Cilic can create plenty of easy points behind that booming serve.

Allied to that, the Total Games market can be tackled at the Over 38.5 mark at a touch over even money.