Cilic Opens Queen’s Club Title Defence With Win

LONDON, June 17, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

Fifth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia blazed through – bar a momentary dip in the second set – in his first round against Chile’s Cristian Garin at the Fever-Tree Championships in Queen’s on Monday. The defending champion won 6-1, 7-6(5) in 77 minutes to advance to the second round.

Firing from both flanks, Cilic took just 21 minutes to wrap up the opening set against his 23-year-old opponent. In the second set, a timely break of Garin’s serve towards the set’s business end meant the two-time Major champion served for the match in the 10th game. However, Garin broke back to swivel the match back on serve eventually taking it to the tie break.

The tie break had its tense moments but the 30-year-old pulled off the win without any further problems complicating his title-defence bid. Cilic’s victory over Garin also meant that his newly-formed partnership with former World No. 6 Wayne Ferreira began on a triumphant note.

On Sunday, 16th June, Cilic announced on Twitter, “I am happy to share with you all that Wayne Ferreira will be joining my team for the grass season. Looking forward to working together!”

Cilic will take on Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the next round. Schwartzman won his only second match on grass – and his first ever at Queen’s – on the day. He beat Kazakh qualifier Alexander Bublik 6-2, 6-3 in 51 minutes.

The two other seeds who opened the tournament on Monday were Russia’s fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, and South African second seed Kevin Anderson. Both won their matches albeit in contrasting fashion.

Medvedev defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-4 in 70 minutes. In doing so, Medvedev ended his losing streak of five matches (going back to the Barcelona Open final).

Meanwhile, Anderson took a circuitous path into the second round against Britain’s hope Cameron Norrie. The 2018 Wimbledon finalist went down a set against Norrie but recovered in time to come through 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. While Norrie was left behind trying to catch up with Anderson in the second set tie break, a break of Norrie’s serve in the fifth game of the third set was all that Anderson needed to put himself ahead in the match.

The 33-year-old, who was forced to sit out of the clay season with an elbow injury, was flawless in the third set losing just one point on serve in its entirety.

Speaking to BBC reporters after his win, Anderson said, “It feels fantastic to be back. It’s always difficult to miss tournaments, it’s been a tough year, but there has been a lot of time and effort put in to get me back out there.”

Next up for Anderson will be France’s Gilles Simon, who rallied past British qualifier James Ward 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2) in two hours and 29 minutes.