Cilic Escapes In Comeback Win, Plays Bautista Agut In Last 16
Bautista Agut overcomes Khachanov to continue perfect start to 2019
The sixth-seeded Croatian, who lost to Roger Federer in last year’s final, saved match points at 6/7 and 7/8 in the fourth set tie-break en route to a 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(8), 6-3 victory over Spanish No. 26 seed Fernando Verdasco. The pair’s 15th encounter lasted four hours and 18 minutes, finishing at 12:57 a.m. local time.
Closing in on victory, 2009 semi-finalist Verdasco, who had served superbly in the first four sets, made a forehand error on his first match point and hit a double fault on his second match point. Cilic, who had held one set point at 6/5 in the tie-break, took the match to a decider with a forehand winner and then won the first three games of the fifth set and recovered from 0/40 at 4-2.
Cilic struck 66 winners, including eight aces, and won 88 per cent of his first-service points. Verdasco fired down 27 aces, but could only convert three of nine break point opportunities.
Cilic now face only of the hardest workers on the ATP Tour, No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, the indefatigable Spaniard, who moved into the fourth round at the Australian Open for the fourth time (also 2014, 2016-17).
The 30-year-old took apart the game of 10th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes, losing just 10 of his first-service points and winning 12 of his 15 points at the net.
Two weeks ago, the World No. 24 lifted the ninth ATP Tour trophy of his career at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Berdych) and is now a perfect 8-0 in 2019.