Can Cilic stop the Fed Express at Wimbledon?

Marin Cilic (Getty Images)
Marin Cilic (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - So this is what it has come to after a fortnight of sizzling tennis and the smell of grass at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Two contrasting men – Swiss Roger Federer (35) and Croat Marin Cilic (28) – square up for not only the £2.2 million (R37 million) grand prize and prestigious trophy, but honour and glory for individual and country.

It’s 14 years since Federer grabbed his first Wimbledon title in 2003 and now he is on the verge of surpassing “Pistol” Pete Sampras and William Renshaw’s seven, at which he has been stuck since 2012.

Standing between him and the prize will be the 1.98m tall Croat, whose booming serve has made him a menace, and this will combine with a desire to add a second major to the US Open title he collected in 2014.

The seventh seed Cilic beat No 24 seed Sam Querrey 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 in Friday’s semifinal.

Federer overcame 2010 runner-up Tomáš Berdych 7-6(7/4), 7-6(7/4), 6-4 to reach his 11th Wimbledon final.

Based on current form, Federer is a clear favourite having reached the final without dropping a set.

His win at the Australian Open this year was evidence of a return to form and this year has seen him play the tennis that is reminiscent of his most dominant period between 2003 and 2009.

Cilic, however, will provide stiff competition.

This will be his first final at Wimbledon, but it is the fourth year in a row that he has made it to the second week as he finds himself becoming increasingly comfortable on grass.

Federer had an easy first opening match when Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov retired with the Swiss leading 6-3 3-0.

Then he shrugged off a cold to win 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4 against German Mischa Zverev in the third round.

Other victims were Serbian Dušan Lajovic and world No 7 Milos Raonic.

Cilic, on the other hand, had an amazing journey. He overcame Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. German Florian Mayer followed. The Croatian then crushed world No 19 Roberto Bautista Agut with ease in the quarterfinals on Monday.

The pair have faced each other on seven previous occasions and only once on grass. Federer has lost just once – during Cilic’s run to the US Open title in 2014.

Federer, who is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players in history, overcame Cilic 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year.

This afternoon, the stage is set for the 18-time Grand Slam champion to add another one to his tally.

Or will Cilic spoil the party?

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