Cilic Survives In Five, Tsitsipas Gets Free Pass To R3
Croatian Marin Cilic survived a five-set epic with Frenchman Benoit Paire to advance to the third round of the Australian Open Wednesday. The 2018 finalist is now one win away from reaching the second week at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year.
The World No. 39 fired 17 aces in a 6-2, 6-7(8), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(10-3) win over Paire, who made a series of loose unforced errors in the match tie-break to conclude the three hour, 33 minute contest in blustery conditions.
Paire fired 30 aces and won 82 per cent of first-serve points but paid the price for 51 unforced errors (including 10 double faults) and for winning just 36 per cent of points on his second serve. Cilic won 49 per cent of second-serve points.
Throughout the match Paire frequently looped off-pace balls high out of Cilic's strike zone to deny the World No. 39 the ability to hit his trademark dangerous flat groundstrokes.
Cilic, who reached the fourth round last year, next plays ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who worked his way into the third round by beating American wild card Michael Mmoh 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 44 minutes. The match, which began on 1573 Arena, was moved to Melbourne Arena after rain suspended play with Mmoh leading 2-1 in the third set.
“It was great to come back to play on Melbourne Arena,” said Bautista Agut. “It was actually a different match. I finished the match playing really good tennis.”
The Greek star, who won the biggest title of his career at last November’s Nitto ATP Finals, made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Melbourne last year when he advanced to the semi-finals. During that run, he beat 20-time major titlist Roger Federer.
Tsitsipas arrived in Melbourne having lost in the first round of two consecutive Slams. But now the four-time ATP Tour titlist will have a chance to reach the Round of 16 at a major for the fourth time.