Djokovic should not be discounted at Wimbledon, though, especially in light of Federer's first defeat on grass in 21 matches at Halle on Sunday - missing out on his 99th career title by losing 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2 against Croatia's Borna Coric in the Gerry Weber Open final - and the struggles of his long-time peers Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and, on grass at least, Rafael Nadal.
This was their 16th meeting and the second straight win for Marin after Paris 2016, losing the first 14 encounters against the great rival who was competing in his first ATP final since Eastbourne previous year.
But he banished his nearly-man tag with a gutsy comeback to claim only his second win in 16 attempts against Djokovic, clinching his 18th career ATP title and his first since Istanbul past year. "I have to keep my expectation very low, considering my results in the last 12 months". "But I have to see the positive because I haven't played a final in nearly a year". I haven't played a lot of matches in the last couple of months.
Beating Djokovic, the former world No 1, for only the second time in 16 matches put the broadest of smiles on the face of Cilic, who saved a match point in the second set and held his nerve admirably in the third. "It's easier said than done, but I'm going into tomorrow's final knowing that it's going to be a really tough match for me, but a great challenge and I'm working for it".More news: Yemen forces retake Hodeida airport
Neither player could impose himself on the other in the second until at 5-4 Djokovic forced a first match point, which was saved by a thumping service victor from the other end. "I've played great tennis throughout this week and have another shot at the title", Cilic said. "In the past couple of years he's been in the form of his life and reaching his highest ranking in his career... he's probably been playing the best that he's ever played".
"I'm just self-critical, I guess, at times", Djokovic said.
Cilic will take on Novak Djokovic in Monday's (AEST) final. There's a lot of grass court players.
Winning the longest final in Queen's history - at two hours and 57 minutes - was just reward for Cilic's superb week on the lawns of Barons Court, which banked him a cheque for £413,601 ($548,764).
But Kvitova proved a different proposition for the remainder of the match, breaking twice in the second set while having to save only a single break point against her serve.