Cilic Celebrates Birthday With Win Against Thiem In Tel Aviv

Cressy defeats Korda in all-American clash

Marin Cilic celebrated his 34th birthday in style on Wednesday evening with his first win against Dominic Thiem.

Despite losing his first four ATP Head2Head meetings against Thiem as well as the first set on Wednesday, Cilic rallied past the wild card 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Tel Aviv Watergen Open.

"I think it was a fantastic match. I think it was an amazing, amazing level," Cilic said in his on-court interview. "We don't get so many chances to play [a] second-round [match] in front of this big [of a] crowd, so thank you so much. It was a fantastic birthday!"

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Cilic hit 15 aces and won 79 per cent of his first-serve points, but the key was the pressure he put on Thiem's serve in the battle of former World No. 3s. Thiem saved nine of the 13 break points he faced, but it was not enough, as the second-seeded Croatian advanced after two hours and 43 minutes.

The 33-year-old will next play fifth seed Botic van de Zandschulp or British qualifier Liam Broady for a place in the semi-finals. Van de Zandschulp and Broady will compete in the first match of Thursday's action in Tel Aviv.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/maxime-cressy/c0bc/overview'>Maxime Cressy</a>
Photo Credit: Tel Aviv Watergen Open
Maxime Cressy’s serve-and-volley game got the job done Wednesday on the indoor hard courts, where the American delivered a strong first-round showing to defeat countryman Sebastian Korda at the ATP 250 event in Israel.

The fourth-seeded Cressy won 82 per cent (23/28) of points at the net and saved both break points he faced in his 6-4, 6-4 triumph against Korda. One break of Korda’s serve in each set was enough for Cressy to complete an 85-minute victory in his first tour-level meeting against the World No. 44 and clinch his seventh ATP Tour quarter-final berth of the season.

Cressy has enjoyed a rapid rise in 2022, reaching his career-high of No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in August, having started the year outside the Top 100. The 25-year-old, who lifted his maiden tour-level trophy on the grass in Newport in July, will meet Emil Ruusuvuori or Constant Lestienne in the quarter-finals in Israel.

Lestienne had earlier set his clash against Ruusuvuori by upsetting seventh seed Adrian Mannarino 7-6(2), 6-4. The one-hour, 55-minute first-round victory against his No. 51-ranked fellow Frenchman was the biggest of Lestienne’s career. 

Also on Wednesday, Roman Safiullin secured his second tour-level quarter-final appearance with a 6-1, 6-4 second-round win against Tomas Martin Etcheverry in Tel Aviv. The No. 104-ranked Safiullin’s previous quarter-final also came on indoor hard courts, in February in Marseille, where he ultimately fell in the semi-finals. His next opponent in Israel will be third seed Diego Schwartzman or Arthur Rinderknech.

Four-time tour-level titlist Pablo Andujar earned his place in the second round when he defeated Thiago Monteiro 7-6(3), 6-1 to set a clash against top seed Novak Djokovic. Andujar trails Djokovic 0-2 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, having last faced the Serbian at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in 2012. 

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