Marin Cilic, of Croatia, returns a shot against Kei Nishikori, of Japan, during the championship match of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Mike Groll
September 08, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) Marin Cilic overpowered Kei Nishikori to win the first set 6-3 in a U.S. Open men's title match between two first-time Grand Slam finalists.

Japan's Nishikori is trying to become the first man from Asia to win a major singles championship. Cilic would be the second Croat, joining his coach, 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic.

Monday's match is the first Grand Slam final without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray since the 2005 Australian Open. The 10th-seeded Nishikori upset Djokovic in the semis, and No. 14 Cilic stunned Federer.

Nishikori is 24, while Cilic is 25, and there are a lot of similarities in their careers. But the 6-foot-6 Cilic is 8 inches taller, and his big serve and long reach frustrated Nishikori in the first set. Nishikori had just two winners.

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