Former US Open champion Marin Cilic has ended Andy Murray’s career-best 22-match winning streak with victory in the Cincinnati Masters.
Preparing for the US Open in one week, Croatian Cilic claimed his first Masters 1000 series title in 71 appearances with a 6-4 7-5 victory over top seed and world No.2 Murray on Sunday.
The 12th seeded Cilic, who has struggled to recapture the form he showed in winning the 2014 US Open, produced a dominating serve and precision groundstrokes.
The loss put a stop to a grand run by Murray that included his second Wimbledon title and an unprecedented repeat as the Olympic men’s singles champion last week at the Rio Games.
“It’s been a great run the last few months, but unfortunately couldn’t get it done today,” Murray said at the trophy presentation.
“We’ll keep working to get better.”
The win also ended a dominant run by the “big four” of Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who had won the past 18 tournaments in the series.
“This week was unbelievable for me,” said Cilic, who had never gotten as far as the semi-finals in a Masters series event.
“I served extremely well today and that helped me a lot. I felt today that everything was good.
“I felt that I played really, really high quality tennis.”
Cilic broke first in the fifth game of the first set with an overhead smash followed by a forehand winner for a 3-2 lead.
Some Murray miscues led to another break two games later, and although the Scotsman broke back in the eighth game and held for 4-5, Cilic served up a love game to close out the set.
Cilic dropped just three points on serve in the second set, and earned a match-defining break in the 11th game to allow him to serve for the title, which he did with ease.
The world No.14 said the win gave him great confidence heading into the final major of the year.
“It’s very important for me to continue on this path, to play this sort of game,” he said.
“I may miss some balls, but I have to just push myself and keep going.”