Khachanov Claws Back, Cilic Advances In Moscow
Karen Khachanov won the VTB Kremlin Cup in 2018, and he made a good start towards claiming another trophy in the Russian capital on Wednesday. The third seed beat Australian James Duckworth 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.
"It always feel great to be back in your hometown, in a tournament where everything started for me as a professional tennis player," Khachanov said in his on-court interview. "[This is] where I won my first matches, I got my first points. Since then, it's always great to come back home to see a crowd, [get] home support.
"It's also [a] little bit more nervous, of course. But on the other side, I always enjoy playing at home."
Khachanov competed in the event for the first time in 2013 aged 17. One month earlier, he had earned his first ATP Tour win in St. Petersburg. The Russian then followed that in Moscow by advancing to the quarter-finals.
Now a four-time ATP Tour titlist, Khachanov faced a tough foe in Duckworth, who is at a career-high No. 52 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But the home favourite rallied from a set down to triumph after one hour and 50 minutes and set a clash against Australian John Millman.
The World No. 58 moved on with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory against Illya Marchenko in two hours and 28 minutes.
Cilic defeated in-form American Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals. After losing his first set of the tournament against Damir Dzumhur in a tie-break, the Croatian has won four consecutive sets.
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The former World No. 3 had to work hard against Paul, who advanced to the fourth round in Indian Wells. But Cilic was steadier in the crucial moments to advance after one hour and 43 minutes.
The 33-year-old broke his opponent's serve four times and won 74 per cent of his second-serve return points to move to 13-2 at the ATP 250. Cilic earned the deciding break in the second set when Paul missed a backhand long, and he never looked back.