Tata Open tennis: Marin Cilic too hot to handle for Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Marin Cilic defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert to reach the Tata Open tennis tournament semifinals.tennis Updated: Jan 05, 2018 09:11 IST
Top seed Marin Cilic did not break sweat as he dispatched Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in straight sets and sealed his place in the semi-finals of the Tata Open Maharashtra here on Thursday.
Cilic, who won the Chennai Open in 2009 and 2010, remained on course for another title as he gears up for the Australian Open in Melbourne. Cilic was at his efficient best even though he was playing only his second competitive match of the new season. He earned early breaks in both sets and dispatched Herbert 6-3, 6-2 in just about an hour.
The 6’6” tall Croat bagged a break in the sixth game after earning three break points with a couple of great forehand winners and that was enough as far as the first set was concerned. He broke Herbert’s service in the very first game with the Frenchman committing a double fault. He got another break in the seventh game and sealed it with another good service game.
Though he looked like he was at his best, Cilic said there were a couple of points that he would like to go better. “For this match, I concentrated on a couple of things I was not satisfied with in my first match. I focused on my game and did not think much about my opponent,” said Cilic.
Asked whether he was playing at his best, Cilic said there was still room for improvement.”I am not a perfectionist but if there is one per cent chance or one shot that could be improved, I will be working on that,” he added.
The 29-year-old would be one of the favourites at the Australian Open considering the pull-outs by Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori and doubts over the fitness of Novak Djokovic. However, Cilic said he would not be thinking on those lines. “You can’t predict the outcome of a tournament like Australia Open or for that matter any tournament,” he said.
Cilic termed it unfortunate that so many top players were hampered by injuries since the last few months and said that was not because of the rigours or format of the ATP Tour.”It is a coincidence that so many top players are currently facing injury problems. The Tour has been going on in this manner for so many years so it can’t be because of that. There are many young players coming up and they pushed the senior players in 2017. So, the Tour is as competitive as ever.”
In the semi-finals, Cilic will meet Frenchman Gilles Simon, who breezed past qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara of Spain 6-2, 6-3. The 33-year-old Simon has a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over Cilic, his last win coming at Miami in 2016. Cilic said Simon is a dangerous opponent. “He has been there on the Tour for some years and has a good record against me,” said Cilic.
US Open finalist and second seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa survived a three-set slugfest with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the semi-finals. Anderson won 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2. In the semi-final he will meet France’s fourth seed Benoit Paire, who defeated Dutch fifth seed Robin Haase 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.