Match Stats/Report - Cilic vs Djokovic, Queen's Club final, 2018


Hall of Fame
Marin Cilic beat Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 in the Queen’s Club final, 2018 on grass

It was Cilic’s second title at the event and he had been runner-up the previous year. It was Djokovic's second runner-up showing and he would go onto win the upcoming Wimbledon

Cilic won 113 points, Djokovic 109

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (54/113) 48%
- 1st serve points won (46/54) 85%
- 2nd serve points won (34/59) 58%
- Aces 17 (1 second serve), Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (38/113) 34%

- 1st serve percentage (81/109) 74%
- 1st serve points won (62/81) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (14/28) 50%
- Aces 11, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (45/109) 41%

Serve Pattern
Cilic served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 16%

Djokovic served...
- to FH 55%
- to BH 41%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Cilic made...
- 59 (35 FH, 24 BH)
- 33 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 26 Forced (11 FH, 15 BH)
- Return Rate (59/104) 57%

Djokovic made...
- 69 (25 FH, 44 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- 11 Forced (7 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (69/107) 64%

Break Points
Cilic 1/8 (3 games)
Djokovic 1/6 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Cilic 37 (23 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
Djokovic 11 (5 FH, 6 BH)

Cilic's FHs - 7 cc (1 pass, 1 at net), 6 dtl (1 pass), 1 dtl/inside-out, 5 inside-out, 2 inside-in, 1 longline, 1 drop shot
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 7 dtl (3 passes - 1 slice), 2 longline (1 at net)

Djokovic's FHs - 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 1 inside-in/cc, 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 3 dtl (1 pass), 1 inside-out, 1 longline, 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Cilic 47
- 39 Unforced (16 FH, 22 BH, 1 OH)... with 1 FH at net
- 8 Forced (1 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.7

Djokovic 33
- 20 Unforced (11 FH, 9 BH)
- 13 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(Note 2: The 'Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Cilic was 7/14 (50%) at net

Djokovic was...
- 2/10 (20%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
A wonderful, fun match, topsy turvy of nature and extreme in the difference in how the two players play. Its almost all Cilic attacking, Djokovic defending which on grass, would heavily favour the attacker. Relative advantage in serve-return complex due to better ability to return tough serves by Djokovic cuts back into his playing disadvantage to leave things virtually equal

Extreme difference in playing style? Forget the FH, Cilic has more BH winners than Djoko has total winner. Cilic with 23 FH winners and 12 BH winners. Djoko with 11 winners from all shots

Topsy turvy nature? Cilic has better of first set, but loses it. Djokovic has better of second set, but loses it. Djokovic has match point in the second set (its service winner’d away)

The most crucial point of the match is a turnaround. Djoko’s been running around and defending all match, Cilic very little. But roles are reversed as Cilic scampers about to retrieve 3-4 tough shots with late pushed-back ‘gets’ before drawing an (unforced) error to pinch a point in the decisive break late in the match, with Djoko's BH - otherwise the rock of the match - faltering just enough to let it happen

Relative advantage in serve-return complex due to return? Despite Cilic leading aces 17-11 and first serve ace/service winner rate 37% - 15%, Djoko lead unreturned rate 41% -34%

That happens sometimes when returner is very aggressive to give up lots of freebies for benefit of making powerful returns. Not here. 26/33 Cilic return errors are FEs. Good serves from Djoko, but the kind he, as a returner is making. It takes considerably less to draw an error out of Cilic than it does Djoko

Things being virtually equal? Both players win the exact same number of points they serve - Cilic 113, Djoko 109
Break points - Cilic 1/8, Djoko 1/6 (both having them in 3 games)

Serve & Return
First serve in - Cilic 48%, Djoko 74%

If you see nothing other than that stat alone, what odds would you give of Cilic winning this? Sounds like a formula for 3 & 4 Djokovic

Some very big second serving from Cilic is what keeps that from happening. While his first serves go for aces and service winners, his seconds act like a normal match’s firsts; Drawing weak returns that he can wade into (and he’s in a wading mood, even beyond his norm - see winner counts to see how that works out)

Sans considerable 6 double faults, Cilic wins 34/53 or 64% second serve points. Usually, you see Djoko winning that kind of a figure returning second serves. Double faults count though, and 6 is a significant cost to having that kind of effect

As Djoko begins to get grip on power and placement of Cilic’s second serves, Cilic switches to serving more at the body. He directs high 16% there, usually second serves. Excellent placement. Despite typical, sleek movement, Djoko isn’t at ease handling it. Forced to squat, hold racquet up like a stop sign couple of times to make the return even

Not bad returning from Djoko in all. 4 service winners from Cilic is indicator of his giving a full effort (they’d have gone for aces if he weren’t). Normal enough to take it easy against serving of this calibre, but none of that from Djoko. If he’s aced a lot, it because the serves are perfect, not because he can’t be bothered trying his best

Not too clean of hitting the second shot though, but he’s only down from his best (not a reasonable standard to expect for any given match), not poor. Lot of weak returns to tough serves that he at least is capable of returning with authority. And he does get a dangerous few returns back deep as is his way. Ironically, its usually against first serves

For that matter, so does Cilic. He’s nowhere near as good at moving to wide returns and making them as indicated earlier, but the ones he bops back to baseline are as Djokovic’ish as Djoko’s own hits

Serve-return matters in 4 nutshells -

- Cilic huges serves, first and second. Firsts going for aces regularly, seconds drawing weak returns he can readily attack or putaway at once. Low in count not too big a problem in that light

- Djoko returning as consistently as he can against first rate opposition. Makes the returns that are makeable, even difficult ones, but weakly. Gets his share of damagingly deep ones too

- Very high in-count from Djoko, serving well. Nowhere near as devastating as Cilic but it doesn’t have to be because Cilic isn’t the mover Djoko is. This kind of ‘just-enough-to-draw-the-error’ serving is typical
of Djoko

- Cilic, nowhere near as good as Djoko at returning tough serves, or even routine + (a bit harder than routine, example, powerful serve, deep-ish but right in swing-zone) ones. But like Djoko, bops a few right back to the baseline to end points or give himself control of it or at least, neutralizes Djoko’s initiative

Serve return matters in 2 numbers - unreturned serves - Cilic 34%, Djoko 41%
And then they rally

Play - Baseline
Winners - Cilic 37, Djoko 11
Errors Forced - Cilic 13, Djoko 8
UEs - Cilic 39, Djoko 20

Points - Cilic 70, Djoko 58… which is in proportion to points served to keep things even and both players holding

Obviously, the winner counts are radically different. That’s certainly accurate indicator of playing dynamics but exaggerates it a little. With Djoko making soft returns regularly, Cilic slaps away good number of easy winners of the third ball anywhere from at net (not serve-volleying but moving up to hit groundstroke) to well up in court

You see this in close serve-volley matches all the time - 1 player with higher unreturned rate, the other with corresponding higher number of 1st volley winners. In words, Djoko’s serves don’t come back, Cilic’s ones do weakly and he dismisses the ball on the spot. It comes to the same thing - Cilic brutalizing the ball makes for a better watch than serve ‘botting

Good 7-10 of Cilic’s winners are third ball putaways. Others are third ball shots where putaway isn’t obvious choice, but he goes for it and makes it (also misses fair bit trying). Its excellent grass court tennis in that play rarely reaches neutral. Cilic seizes control with third ball shot at least, against anything but strong returns. Djoko, with his higher lot of freebies, doesn’t get to as much because higher lot of Cilic’s returns are strong, but both players looking to be in command of rally from the get-go, including after a strong return

If dynamic edges down towards neutral, Cilic hammers the ball off both sides to seize control. Djoko doesn’t contest - he’s probably capable, but is content to counter-punch and trust to Cilic overreaching with aggression. Not a bad ploy in general against Cilic


Hall of Fame
Neutral UEs - Cilic 21, Djoko 12
… with their being a difference in each players ‘neutral’. Cilic’s tend to be on the edgy, take-charge side of things, including with the BH. Djoko’s are of the healthy, would be low percentage & high risk to attack against. Figures are on expected lines, but with Cilic getting a bit more out of his ‘neutral +’ shots, expected lines is a relative win for him

Attacking UEs and Errors Forced - Cilic 6 errors to force 13, Djoko 4 errors to force 8
… about same success rate, Cilic on attack more often. Given Cilic’s softer defence, Djoko would look to have better success rate here

Winner Attempt UEs and Winners - Cilc 37 winners at cost of 12 errors, Djoko 11 at cost of 4
…. Cilic coming up well ahead here, and these numbers contextualize his not good attacking ones; he doesn’t attack in moderation much - his ‘neutral’ passes for attacking and to attack, he goes right into kill shots. Landing them at fine rate

Not as good as the numbers looks because of substantial lot of putaway third balls (he misses a small few too), but still better than Djoko. If its Djoko’s choice to counter-punch rather than contest for command, Cilic’s hit rate on winners is a little too good for it be working

Djoko, especially in first set when he’s most under gun, defends fantastically. Lots of powerful shots to run down and get back on the stretch. Usually loses the points anyway, but it just takes a point here or there to turn a game into a break - and a break in these conditions is gold dust. That makes Cilic’s success rate forcing errors and hitting winners more impressive. By contrast, not much resistance by Cilic on the rare occasions he’s on defensive. Which is what makes the crucial point in the decisive break stand out so

Gist of play - beat-down hard hitting ‘neutral’ shots from Cilic and if he draws a not-strong (as opposed to weak) ball, he goes for the winner against it. Off both sides

FHs the star with 23 winners (just 16 UEs) - and he hits them every which way. 5 each cc, dtl and inside-out and 2 inside-in - and that’s not counting passes and hybrid directions. With that kind of success of the strong wing, looking to stay steady of the other side seems sound. Cilic is brilliant, not sound, and he indulges with the BH too. The 5 dtl or longline shots baseline-to-baseline keep Djoko from falling back on utilizing BH neutral rallies to control play, a favourite ploy of his. Stan Wawrinka does this against Djoko too - even if errors out-weigh winners, its probably better than playing Djoko’s game. Good lot of BH dtl winner attempt errors by Cilic here, but it’s a message to his percentage conscious opponent; no safe place to go, no place for you to plant your smothering routine… few more errors than winners worth it to keep that from happening

BH with by far match high 22 UEs, so not a small price to pay to keep action on his racquet

Another ploy Cilic employs to avoid neutral BH cc rallies is a dtl slice. He misses it often enough and it doesn’t task Djoko’s movement or FH technique against low ball to worth it. But keeps things away from BH-BH

And back to the topsy turvy. Ultimately, it’s the rock of the match, the Djoko BH that cracks. 3 UEs in giving up the decisive break

Not much net play. Cilic’s ground attacks stand by themselves. Djoko loses his first few net points to strong passes, and the has little chance to come in - Cilic’s power doesn’t encourage it. Finishes just 2/10 at net. No counter-play on offer there

Match Progression
Cilic has better of first set… all the to being broken at the end to lose it. Prior to that game, he loses 7 points for 5 holds while facing no break points. Djoko loses 14 for 6 holds and has to save 6 break points across 2 games. That’s grass court tennis

Cilic is the powerhouse. Dynamic is him attacking, Djoko defending (not leading and reacting). Djoko hangs in with verve, making running, stretching, sliding gets to put one more ball in play. Usually loses the point anyway, but just takes a couple of misses to turn a game on its head, and Cilic, while well in the positives, isn’t immune to attacking errors

Djoko’s equalizer to being bossed about in play is Cilic’s vulnerable returning. Doesn’t take too much to get a return error out of him. Djoko’s got his hands full returning too - Cilic has 8 aces/service winners in set - but manages regularly to return tougher serves than the ones that draw errors from Cilic

Djoko saves break point in game 3. Some excellent defending from Djoko on the point, and the straining Cilic eventually misses a BH dtl winner attempt

Beat around badly, Djoko looks to attack net to give his game teeth in game 7. An approach error, forced back by a lob and Cilic coming in to volley a winner and a pass winner later, he’s got 0-40 to show for it. He escapes being broken - 3 unreturned first serves gets him out of the first hole (1 marked a UE) and he has to save 2 more afterwards, but his other 2 net points for the game (once drawn in) end with Cilic passing winners also

Few holds later, Cilic serves at 5-6 and against run of play, is broken. Outstanding defence from Djoko has a hand, some decent returns but more faulty third ball errors, 3 FH winners and a couple of double faults… a very tough game with the power-battering of Cilic and the hanging tight Djoko. Cilic misses a routine third ball BH cc to finally be broken and lose the set he’d dominated

Cilic has 18 winners, 17 UEs for the set. Djoko 3 and 6 - and 1 of his winners is a net chord dribbler

But trend turns completely in second set and Djoko can’t seem to lose a service point. He wins 19/20 points on serve from start of set, and going back to end of previous set, 18 in a row. And its Cilic that struggles through a 16 point hold at start of the set - dynamic of him leading/attacking, Djoko counter-punching still in operation

Djoko responds with an aggressive game of his own, 4 winners (including an ace) in a love hold. Wonderful running-down-drop-shot (a net chord dribbler in this case) drop shot at net stands out among them

Some brutal BH winners from Cilic as set goes on. Also hits a Djoko-like return right to the baseline to force an error. But its Djoko’s bag of attacking and counter-attacking ploys that get him to another break point late in the set, which happens to be match point also. Big service winner saves it and Cilic goes on to hold

Tiebreaker. FH dtl gets Djoko early mini-break and he’s 4-1 up, with all his serves not coming back. He doesn’t win another point

Risky drop shot from Cilic pays off and he stays in touching distance at 3-4, with 2 return points to follow. Djoko double faults, going for a very aggressive second serve down the middle and big FH inside-out from routine position sees Cilic move ahead for first time. He finishes with a big serve that Djoko can only fend back weakly and Cilic dismisses with a FH cc at net to force decider

Decider turns out be the only set won by the player who has better of bulk of it. Cilic loses 4 points on serve for his 5 holds. Djoko survives a very tough 12 point hold on top of being broken in a 10 pointer

The 12 pointer comes with Djoko serving at 1-2. Cilic hits a number of deep returns even sneaks in a point where he defends like the dickens before Djoko overstains with an attacking FH. Still, Djoko draws return errors with not overwhelming serves to come away with the hold. 3 of last 4 points are unreturned first serves, 1 marked a UE

Cilic grabs the break for 5-3, despite 8/10 first serves from Djoko, in a very good, tough game. Lovely drop shot play by Cilic, where he anticipates Djoko’s get and is at net to push BH longline back into open court for winner. Excellent third ball BH dtl winner by Djoko against a good return. A touch of fortune, as Djoko’s ball pops up of net chord for Cilic to ram home a FH dtl winner

The crucial point is when Cilic defends ably for 3-4 shots until Djoko misses a BH cc to open side of court, bringing up his first break point, which Djoko erases with an ace. Djoko comes in behind a very strong FH cc that looks good to end point without added pressure of the approach. Instead, a running, stretched out Cilic manages to smack the ball FH dtl for winner to bring up second break point. This time, Djoko misses a routine BH - his third UE of that side in the game. In matches remaining 33 games (including the ‘breaker), he 6

Cilic serves out to love with 4 unreturned serves

Summing up, a very fine match with Cilic serving big, returning the same way when he can (which isn’t often) and hitting out from the back. FH is devastating, BH almost as audacious if not successful but doing its bit to keep Cilic in drivers seat of action

Djokovic falls back to counter-punching rather than challenge for control. Whatever plans he might have to grind game down to control it with BHs is blown out the window by Cilic’s aggression and creativity of that side, at considerable cost. Djokovic defends stoutly and well - running and sliding and stretching wide to firmly as possible push powerful shots back in play and give Cilic one more chance of missing

All that’s against backdrop of excellent second serving from Cilic (to support an overwhelming but not-often seen first serve) that Djokovic struggles to return with any authority and Djokovic serving just-so to exploit Cilic’s movements and shot-tolerance imperfections on the return

Despite Cilic stealing all eyes, things remain very much even and result up in the air, with Cilic ending up just nosing ahead on a small and against trend BH stumble from his opponent