Cilic Comes Through Knee Injury Test As Kyrgios Stumbles

Marin Cilic of Croatia hits a return against Kevin Anderson of South Africa on the second day of the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 9, 2019. William WEST / AFP

 

 

World number seven Marin Cilic tested a knee injury with the best possible result on Wednesday, but temperamental Nick Kyrgios’ poor start to the season continued at the Kooyong Classic.

Former US Open champion Cilic, who led Croatia to a Davis Cup trophy in November, skipped last week’s Maharashtra ATP tournament to rest.

The wait was worth it as he posted a gritty 6-3, 4-6, 15-13 win over Kevin Anderson, recovering from 2-7 down in the new final-set tiebreaker that will be used at the Australian Open for the first time next week.

Under the rules, the first player to win at least 10 points by a two-point margin takes the match.

Cilic, who was beaten by Roger Federer in an epic Australian Open final last year, said his knee was not a worry.

“The knee felt slightly more stiff than usual, maybe that’s from a first match,” he said.

“I need a few more days to play and train and hopefully reach 100 percent.”

Cilic added: “It took me some time to recover from the emotional end to last season with the Davis Cup.

“I’m feeling a bit rusty, but I’m hitting the ball well and feel on good form.”

South African world number six Anderson was battling jetlag after arriving in Melbourne following a title victory at the weekend in Pune, India.

He is also relaxed about his form heading into the first Grand Slam of the season next week.

“It’s good to play a competitive match, it’s the best way to acclimatise,” he said.

“I want to be as healthy and fresh as possible heading into next week. This is my eighth match of the season, so I’m not worried about that.”

Kyrgios, who was knocked out in the second round at Brisbane last week, was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by friend and fellow comeback candidate Bernard Tomic in an all-Australian battle.

Tomic ended his victory with a flourish, sending over a sneaky serve on match point by hitting the ball between his legs for a winner — a move which totally caught Kyrgios off guard.

“It was a lot of fun just to get back out there,” the often edgy Kyrgios, who has slipped to 51 in the world, said. “It’s great to see a good mate like Bernie having success again.”

The crowd-pleasing tune-up for the Australian Open was marked by good-natured competition.

Tomic, who has been through many of the same dips and dives in his motivation and form as Kyrgios, was also pleased with how he is progressing.

“It was another good training day. Nick and I have played so many times at practice, we know exactly what the other is going to do — it’s a little bit like cheating,” the 83rd-ranked Tomic joked.

“It was good to get out on the court. I didn’t play a lot of tennis last year — which was my own fault. But at the moment I’m happy, the last three months (of 2018) was good.”

AFP

Croatia’s Cilic Pulls Out Of Maharashtra Open

Croatia’s Marin/ AFP

 

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia on Friday pulled out of next week’s Maharashtra ATP tournament to recuperate from a knee injury in time for the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old world number seven led Croatia to a Davis Cup final victory over France last month and was to be a key crowd puller at the season-opening ATP event in the west Indian city of Pune starting Monday.

“I am sad to announce I have had to pull out of the Tata Open Maharashtra. My sincerest apologies to the fans and organizers,” Cilic posted on his Facebook page.

“I was looking forward to returning, however, my knee pains that began toward the end of the season have escalated.”

He added: “I cannot go into this tournament knowing I am not currently able to give 100 percent.”

Cilic won the title in 2009 and 2010 when it was played in Chennai.

The Maharashtra tournament is a key warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, which starts on January 14.

Defending champion Gilles Simon of France and world number six Kevin Anderson of South Africa will take part in the Indian event.

AFP

Croatia’s Cilic Gets Heroic Welcome After Davis Cup Win

Croatia’s Marin Cilic (C) addresses fans as he and other members of Croatia’s Davis Cup team celebrate onstage during a welcome ceremony at Zagreb’s Main Square on November 26, 2018. Several thousand fans gathered to welcome their country’s Davis Cup team upon their return from France, where they beat the hosts and won the title. AFP

 

Thousands of Croatians gathered in Zagreb’s main square on Monday to embrace their returning Davis Cup team, who routed hosts France in the final to clinch the trophy for the second time.

“Croatia, Croatia!” chanted both the crowd and the players, led by world number seven Marin Cilic, who were standing on an improvised stage in Ban Jelacic square.

Behind them, a giant screen replayed their matches from the Davis Cup final in Lille, France.

“We are delighted to become world champions and bring this trophy to Croatia,” Cilic told the crowd, many of whom were wrapped in Croatia’s red-and-white chequered flags.

The victory has been celebrated as a sweet revenge for Croatia’s loss to France in the World Cup final in July.

It is the second time the Balkan nation of 4.2 million has won the Davis Cup, the first time being in 2005.

Cilic, 30, secured the 3-1 victory by beating Lucas Pouille on Sunday and giving his country an unassailable lead.

On Monday the Croatian press crowned it a “miraculous year” for the country’s athletes.

“Happy and proud again!” read the headline on the daily Vecernji List.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who attended the event in Lille, is expected to decorate the players with medals later Monday.

AFP

Croatia Clinch 3-1 Victory Over France To Win Davis Cup

Croatia’s Marin Cilic celebrates after victory over France’s Lucas Pouille in their singles rubber for the Davis Cup final tennis match between France and Croatia at The Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, northern France, on November 25, 2018. Croatia clinched a 3-1 victory over France to win The Davis Cup. PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

 

Marin Cilic beat France’s Lucas Pouille in straight sets on Sunday to give Croatia an unassailable lead in the Davis Cup final.

In the last final before a radical reorganisation of the venerable competition, Cilic won 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3, to dethrone defending champions France and secure Croatia’s second Davis Cup, 13 years after their first.

Cilic Suffers Shock Wimbledon Exit

Croatia’s Marin Cilic returns against Argentina’s Guido Pella during their men’s singles second round match on the fourth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 5, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Marin Cilic suffered a shock Wimbledon second round exit as last year’s runner-up blew a two-set lead in his 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 loss to  Argentina’s Guido Pella on Thursday.

When rain forced the tie to be postponed on Wednesday evening, third seed Cilic was leading by two sets against an unheralded opponent who had never won a match at Wimbledon before this year.

But the Croatian, who lost to Roger Federer in the 2017 final, collapsed once the match resumed on Court One and world number 82 Pella took full advantage to set up a third round clash with Mackenzie McDonald.

Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, had been expected to mount a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title after winning the grass-court warm-up at Queen’s Club two weeks ago.

The big-serving 29-year-old had only once before lost to a player ranked as low as Pella at Wimbledon, when he was beaten by world number 145 Arnaud Clement 10 years ago.

But after reaching the Australian Open final and French Open quarter-finals earlier this year, Cilic suffered one of the worst results of his career.

Pella is into the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time.

The 28-year-old admitted the over-night rain delay had been a huge boost as it allowed him to change his tactics and pull off a sensational fightback.

“Yesterday he was playing so good, hitting the ball so hard that I couldn’t do anything,” Pella said.

“So the rain helped me a lot. Today I played differently, tried to be more aggressive, he started to feel uncomfortable.

“I tried to hit the ball hard and fight for every ball and I think in the end that’s why I won.

“I felt much more confident, served better and was so calm until the end. I’m very happy.”

AFP

Five Things You May Not Know About Federer, Cilic

Defending champion Roger Federer plays sixth-seeded Marin Cilic on Sunday in the final of the year’s first Grand Slam.

Here are AFP’s five things you may not know about this year’s Australian Open men’s singles final:

Slam success shared

Roger Federer and Marin Cilic will be playing each other in their second Grand Slam final. The Swiss great breezed past the Croatian in straight sets at last year’s Wimbledon final but a tearful Cilic played in pain from a nasty foot blister. He had previously conquered Federer in three sets in the semi-finals on the way to his 2014 US Open triumph. Overall, Federer leads 8-1, and 3-1 at Slams.

Cilic’s Croatian first

Cilic is the first Croatian man or woman to play in an Australian Open final and is bidding to become the country’s first multiple major winner ahead of Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli, who won one each. Ivanisevic has played in more major finals — four to Cilic’s three.

Federer’s set piece

If Federer wins the final in straight sets he will equal Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles at three without dropping a set through the tournament. It would be the second time for Federer at the Australian Open after powering through the 2007 event without losing a set.

Age shall not weary them

Federer at 36 is bidding to win a third major title after turning 35. Australian great Ken Rosewall is the only other man to have won a Slam title after his 35th birthday in the post-1968 Open Era, at 37 years old in the 1972 Australian Open.
– Pair’s practice in Maldives.

Federer and Cilic practised together last month when they discovered, by accident, they were holidaying together in the Maldives. “It was just the two of us and we were both looking for a hitting partner and it happened that we were there,” Federer said. “We actually went to practise twice for 45 minutes. It was great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid-back.”

Cilic Too Good For Edmund To Reach Open Final

Croatia’s Marin Cilic celebrates beating Britain’s Kyle Edmund in their men’s singles semi-finals match on day 11 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 25, 2018. PETER PARKS / AFP

 

Croatia’s sixth seed Marin Cilic stormed into his third Grand Slam final with a straight sets victory over unseeded British hope Kyle Edmund at the Australian Open on Thursday.

The former US Open champion was too strong for Edmund, winning 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 and will face either defending champion Roger Federer or unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon in Sunday’s final.

He will face either defending champion Roger Federer or unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon, who play on Friday.

“Overall I’m feeling really good,” Cilic said. “Now I have two days off before the final.
“I noticed in the third game of the third set, when I broke him, he just let a couple of balls go past him.

“So I realised his movement was a little bit restricted, so I just tried to move the ball around and obviously that second break was extremely crucial.”

It was an emphatic performance by the 2014 US Open champion, who broke Edmund’s serve four times and nullified the Briton’s powerful forehand.

The victory ensured that he will rise to a career-high of three when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Cilic will be only the second player outside the ‘Big Four’ of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Federer to reach the Melbourne final since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008 decider.

He lost to Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final, but beat the 19-time Grand Slam champion in the semi-finals on the way to his US Open triumph.

Cilic trails the Swiss ace 8-1, but leads Chung 3-0 in their meetings.

Medical Timeout

It was a match too far for 23-year-old Edmund, who upset world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov and world No.11 Kevin Anderson on the way to his first Grand Slam semi-final but had little left in the tank.

Cilic’s quick returns kept him on the defensive and the Croatian broke through in the sixth game when a net cord bounced out.

The Croat attacked Edmund’s backhand and kept away from his forehand weapon and came up with a second break with a forehand to the corner for the opening set.

Edmund left the court for a medical timeout and fought off break point in the fourth game of the second set.

At one point he become furious with umpire John Blom for awarding a point rather than replaying and ruling that it had not put the Briton off playing the shot.

Games went with service but the Croatian was too strong in the tiebreaker, getting to three set points and taking a two sets to love lead with a backhand winner.

Cilic broke in the third game of the final set to take a firm grip as Edmund dropped his head.

It got no better as Edmund hit a backhand wide on break point to drop serve again in the seventh game to leave Cilic with the task of serving out for victory.

Despite losing it was a breakthrough tournament for Edmund, the only British man in this year’s field after five-time finalist Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal.

He became only the fourth British man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in the post-1968 Open Era

Cilic Disappointed Over First Wimbledon Final Loss

Marin Cilic said he had been suffering from a blister on his foot during the showpiece clash against Roger Federer on Sunday.

The Croatian seventh seed lost 6-3 6-1 6-4 — to Federer in his first Wimbledon final.

Cilic was distraught after going 3-0 behind in the second set, sitting on his chair in tears.

He said the blister had surfaced during his run to the final, which included a long five-setter against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the quarter-finals.

“It was just emotionally that I knew that on such a big day that I’m unable to play my best tennis in physical, in every single way, so that was just a little bit of a combination of all emotions, ’cause I know how much it took for me to get here.”

Read Also: Federer Wins Record 8th Wimbledon Title

Federer Delighted With Wimbledon Record

Roger Federer said it was a special day for him on Sunday after winning a record eighth Wimbledon title in the modern-era to surpass Pete Sampras’ tally of seven.

He said many of his tennis heroes had memorable tournaments at Wimbledon and said he was yet undecided whether or not he would return next year.

“Yes it is very special, Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament, will always be my favourite tournament and my heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here and because of them I think I became a better player too, so to mark history here at Wimbledon I think really means a lot to me just because of all that really, it’s that simple.”

Read Also: Federer Wins Record 8th Wimbledon Title

Federer said he would need to evaluate on next season later on in the year as he finalises his schedule and fitness routine, but said he hoped to be back to defend his title in 2018.

“Yeah, I mean, honestly ever since I had the year I had last year, I do think probably year ahead of time you know, with my schedule, fitness schedule and tournaments I would like to play, you know, so I totally see myself playing here this time next year, but because it’s far away and because of what happened last year.

“I just like to take the opportunity to thank the people in the very moment and just make them understand that yes, and I hope that I’m back, (but) there’s never a guarantee, especially at 35, 36. But the goal is definitely to try and be here again next year, to try and defend (the title).” Federer said.

 

Read Also: Muguruza Stuns Venus To Win First Wimbledon Title

Cilic Beats Muller, Cruises To Wimbledon Semis

Cilic Beats Muller, Cruises To Wimbledon Semis
File Photo: Marin Cilic

Gilles Muller’s unlikely Wimbledon run came to an end when he was beaten in five sets by Croatian Marin Cilic in their quarter-final on Wednesday.

Cilic, who triumphed 3-6 7-6(6) 7-5 5-7 6-1 will now face Sam Querrey in the semi-finals after the American upset home favourite Andy Murray.

The 34-year-old Muller was an unexpected presence in the last eight after he pulled off a surprise, five-set win over Rafa Nadal in the fourth round.

Muller took that form into the contest with Cilic but when his run of 31 service games without a break ended in the third set, the tide turned towards the Croat who produced some magnificent return play in the final set.

Earlier, Muller stunned Nadal with a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 scoreline to end the Spaniard’s dream of claiming the Wimbledon title.

Cilic, Querrey Cruise To Victory At Queen’s

Cilic, Querrey Cruise To Victory At Queen'sThe top seeds have been scattered but Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey continued the charge of former winners at the Aegon Championships on Thursday.

With Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov having already progressed, three former champions are among the last eight at the prestigious pre-Wimbledon grass court event at Queen’s Club.

Fourth seed Cilic, winner in 2012, overpowered American teenager Stefan Kozlov 6-0 6-4 while Querrey, who triumphed seven years ago at the west London club, defeated Australian Jordan Thompson 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3.

Russian Daniil Medvedev beat fellow 21-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis who failed to match the heights he reached when he defeated third seed Milos Raonic in round one, losing 6-2 6-2.

Medvedev will face 2014 winner Dimitrov on Friday.

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez also continued the form he showed in reaching the Stuttgart grasscourt final last week with a 6-1 7-6(4) win over France’s Jeremy Chardy and will face Czech Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals.

Andy Murray To Become World’s Number One

Andy Murray, Olympics, Zika VirusBritain’s Andy Murray will become world’s number one tennis player for the first time after Milos Raonic withdrew from their Paris Masters semi-final.

Murray needed only to reach the final in Paris after current number one Novak Djokovic lost to Marin Cilic in Friday’s quarter-final.

Canadian Raonic, however, announced before Saturday’s match that he was injured.

Murray will be the first British singles player to hold top spot since computerised rankings began in 1973.

On the other hand, John Isner has cruised to a straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic to meet Murray in the finals.

This means that Isner would finish the year as the number one American for the fifth consecutive year.