Marin Cilic beating Kei Nishikori in the US Open final, eliminating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic respectively in the semifinals, shook up the men’s tennis world.
What does the next 14 months through the end of 2015 hold for both players? Besides loads of cash?
For breakthroughs sake, both players have been branded successes in part due to their high-profile coaches — Croatian countryman Goran Ivanisevic for Cilic, and fellow Asian Michael Chang for Nishikori.
Cilic has the greater upside rankings-wise over the next 14 months due to his imposing stature, a monster serve, great court coverage for a big man, and what led to his breakthrough, sidelining tactics for an aggressive match approach that makes his opponent have to worry about tactics.
Cilic’s bulldozing of Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Nishikori in straight sets showed it will be other players thinking about plan As, Bs and Cs going into matches against the Croat.
Nishikori faces greater obstacles to success than Cilic — mainly his physical stature, and the fact he is frequently injured. But his victories over Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic at the US Open, coming after a couple long, draining matches, was nothing short of incredible and shows that will-to-win and confidence “X Factor” that many players lack.
Don’t look for the “Big 4″ Era to come to an end, reading all the media stories on how Cilic and Nishikori have ushered in a new era. Federer is still formidable, Djokovic will get over his post-marriage funk, Rafael Nadal will likely return like a hurricane, and Andy Murray is still not 100 percent after injuries.
“That they are great champions, and it’s going to take so much to break them and to break the finals of a Grand Slam or to be able to win it,” Cilic said. “And I would say I was also a little bit lucky here. There was no Rafa. And I had a good draw. I didn’t play Novak or Andy or those guys.”
Cilic collected $3 million for his US Open win, while Nishikori will further bolster his off-court portfolio, one of the largest in tennis, that includes That Uniqlo, Wilson, Adidas, Delta Airlines, and a slew of others.
They are now both firmly entrenched in the Top 10. Both Cilic and Nishikori will likely qualify for the year-end championships and feature in the Top 10 for the next 12 months, but can they be Top 3 material by this time next year? Or out of the Top 10? You tell us.
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