Cilic Battles Basso, Home Crowd For Win In Rome
Last year's semi-finalist to play Struff
In a match featuring seven breaks of serve, ninth seed Cilic recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the first set and a second-set comeback from 25-year-old Basso, making his ATP Tour debut, for a 6-1, 7-5 first-round victory over one hour and 39 minutes.
The Croatian, who has recovered from food poisoning that prohibited him from competing in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals against Novak Djokovic, tightened up his game at 5-5 in the second set, returning with depth to break Basso en route to his eighth win in 14 matches this season. Last year's Rome semi-finalist will now prepare to meet Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.
Struff didn’t strike any of his 17 aces in the third set, but recovered from 1-3 down in the decider to overcome 2014 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 in two hours. Struff won 25 of 25 first-service points in the second set, which turned at 3/2 in the tie-break in Dimitrov’s favour. Last month, Dimitrov beat Struff 7-6(2), 6-4 in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters second round.
Earlier in the day, Moldova’s Radu Albot knocked out Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-2 in 87 minutes for a meeting against Italian No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini at the Foro Italico. Albot’s best performance in his seven previous ATP Masters 1000 tournament appearances came in March at the BNP Paribas Open, where he advanced to the third round (l. to Edmund).