To beat Roger Federer, you need everything to go your way. So imagine how difficult it must be, facing the great man, only for him to benefit from a decision that's out of your control.
That's according to Marin Cilic, who was defeated by the Swiss master in Sunday's five-set Australian Open final. The 29-year old Croat lost to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final and had only beaten him once in their nine meetings, prior to yesterday.
Much had been made of Federer's 'advantageous' schedule, and now it's felt that playing under the closed roof also benefited the world number two.
The Melbourne-based tournament organisers made the decision to close the roof just before the final which appeared to favour the 36-year-old as he had been practicing indoors during the warm-up, while Cilic proceeded to practice outdoors.
The organisers then posted a lengthy statement to explain the decision: "During the afternoon the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index reading was above the threshold of 32.5, and was closely monitored.
"At 6.30pm it was 32.7. With no dramatic reduction in the WBGT reading forecast (the 8.30pm forecast was 32.5) the referee exercised his discretion and called for the roof to be closed. At 7.29pm it was 32.5, and at 7.32pm, when the umpire called time to commence the match, it was 32.6."
The 2014 US Open champion Cilic made a horrendous start to the match and lost first set 2-6, before admirably fighting back, winning two of the next three, but ultimately losing out in the final set.
Afterwards, though, the runner-up revealed that he hadn't been consulted on the decision.
"You know, throughout the tournament I played all my matches outdoors, also preparing a hot day, 38 degrees. Then first match for the final to play with the roof closed, it’s difficult," said Cilic, as per The Metro.
"I have to say that decision, you know, could it have been different? I guess so. I think that it was just little bit difficult to adjust, especially the beginning of the match. With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected.
"That was very, very difficult, especially for the final to, you know, be in that kind of a situation. Well, no, they didn’t ask me. They just came to me to tell me that they are thinking about decision, and they going to make the final decision just around 7pm, just slightly before the match.
"I didn’t mind to have roof closed, but it was a huge difference in temperature from having outside 38, then when you came in, it was like 23, 4, I don’t know. It was way cooler than I expected."
After being asked if he’d argued in favour of leaving it open, he replied: "No, I didn’t."
"Coming in before the final, I didn’t want to have any negative thoughts. I was just trying to focus on myself, on that. ‘In the end of the day, it’s tough for me to change that decision. Just to lose energy before the match, it’s pointless."
Cilic said that the closed roof upset the flow of his serve at the beginning of the match, telling the media that it may have worked in the six-time winner's favour, when the Swiss took the first set comfortably.
However, he didn't want to detract from Federer's landmark 20th grand slam title. When asked if it was a direct an advantage to the champion, he continued: "I don’t know. Just looking at my own side, I didn’t feel those conditions before. I had a slow start in the match, losing straightaway my two service games, then catching up most of the time.
"But looking overall, I’m really pleased with the performance. I played great tennis over these two weeks. I had tough matches, tough opponents, beating Rafa [Nadal], reaching here a final, which is definitely amazing.
"Looking at my own game, I think I improved a lot. I’m playing great tennis. That’s really exciting for me for this 2018."
Regardless of the final result, Cilic ultimately can reflect on a great tournament that has boosted him to becoming the world number three.
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