Read & Watch: Cilic Saves Four MPs To Snap Skid In Madrid
Croatian Marin Cilic was on the brink of a five-match losing streak on Monday in Madrid. But the ninth seed saved four match points and dominated a final-set tie-break to defeat Slovakian qualifier Martin Klizan 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(0), advancing to the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Cilic had won just one match since the Australian Open. But the World No. 11 will take confidence from his two-hour, 48-minute victory, moving on to face German Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated Aussie Nick Kyrgios on Sunday. Struff defeated Cilic in a final-set tie-break in Tokyo last year, and their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 1-1.
Klizan was never in good position to take advantage of any of his match points, making errors on three of them, and dropping a ball short that allowed Cilic to punish a forehand winner on the other. Cilic won 75 per cent of his first-serve points in his victory.
Another seeded player who did not face as much difficulty is 15th seed Gael Monfils, who dismissed Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-1 in 55 minutes. The Frenchman made 87 per cent of his first serves, and did not lose a second-serve point (5/5) in his victory.
Monfils is now 17-4 in 2019, and he has won at least one match at all seven tournaments he has played, with the highlight being his triumph at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, an ATP 500 event. Including this week, the World No. 18 has just 145 ATP Ranking points to defend through Roland Garros. So if he maintains his form, there is room for him to make a move during this European spring clay-court swing.
In a battle of Serbians, Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere beat Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-4. Djere, also a semi-finalist in Budapest, will next face seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine is playing just his second tournament of the year (also Delray Beach) as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Listen To ATP Tennis Radio’s Interview With Djere: