Cilic Beats Felix For Stuttgart Crown

Cilic is now 3-3 in grass-court finals

Marin Cilic captured his 19th ATP Tour title — and his first for three years — on Sunday after he defeated third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(2), 6-3 in the MercedesCup final.

The Croatian star, who did not drop a set all week, struck seven aces to claim victory in the Stuttgart final that lasted one hour and 50 minutes.

“It was a very important win. I played two semi-finals and did not win a title since 2018, also on grass at Queen’s. Winning here brings out joy for me, good confidence and a good feeling,” Cilic said. "I felt like I was playing good tennis in these last few weeks. Winning here is a great way for me to continue my form and it gives me a good sign for Queen’s and Wimbledon. It is a joy to win my first title with my family here for the first time at any tournament.

“Experience plays a big part, especially on grass. The conditions can be difficult, the court plays quite quick. I felt this was a good chance for me to give it my all, keep my intensity. Even though some games were up and others down, that was a big part of my victory today."

Aged 32, Cilic is the third-oldest Stuttgart champion in Open Era (since April 1968) behind Roger Federer, 36, in 2018 and 33-year-old Barry Phillips-Moore in 1971. The World No. 47 is the lowest-ranked Stuttgart champion since No. 85 Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2011.

Cilic won 100 per cent of his first-serve points in three of his five matches this week and is now 3-3 in grass-court finals (19-14 overall). He will now travel to The Queen’s Club in London for the cinch Championships, which he has won twice in 2012 and 2018, and hope to improve upon his 15-10 match record in 2021.

In a lively start to their third ATP Head2Head meeting, both Cilic and #NextGenATP star Auger-Aliassime fended off three break points in their opening service games. Cilic was aggressive off the forehand side throughout the first set as he looked to manoeuvre Auger-Aliassime around the court. At 5-5, Cilic converted his ninth break point to move ahead. While he failed to serve it out, the former World No. 3 swept through the tie-break that ended when Auger-Aliassime hit a forehand long.

Cilic was strong on serve in the second set, as he claimed 90 per cent (9/10) of points on his second serve, while Auger-Aliassime won 64 per cent (7/11) of his first-service points. The match turned in the eighth game when Cilic broke to lead 5-3, with Auger-Aliassime unable to deal with his opponent’s powerful groundstrokes.

Cilic won at least one title in 11 straight seasons between 2008 and 2018, saving a championship point against Novak Djokovic in his 32nd and most recent final at The Queen’s Club in June 2018.

On defeat, Auger-Aliassime said: “Today I am not facing a final, I am facing Marin Cilic, it is two different things. There has been times when I have not played my best then I felt I was not playing well, but this time around, I felt like it was close. But overall I think he was a better player overall." 

Auger-Aliassime drops to an 0-8 record in ATP Tour finals. He also finished runner-up at the Murray River Open (l. to Evans) in February. He will next compete in Halle where he faces Hubert Hurkacz in the NOVENTI OPEN first round.