MARSEILLE, February 20, 2016
Young gun Nick Kyrgios and fourth seed Marin Cilic will compete in Sunday’s final of the Open 13, held at the Palais des Sports in Marseille.
The 20-year-old Australian knocked out second seed Tomas Berdych in the semis, winning 6-4, 6-2. Kyrgios broke in the fifth game and clinched the opening set, winning all of his 16 first service points. The fifth was also the lucky game in the second set, when a Berdych backhand slice went long and the Australian gained a 3-2 lead. Two more breaks in the following and Kyrgios closed the match out after 69 minutes.
“It wasn’t a perfect match but I served and returned really well again. It was a really good match. I usually play just points during practice. I am not really practicing anything. I know that I can return. I just need to be more aggressive and that’s what I was doing today,” Kyrgios summarized the encounter.
“I have beaten four quality opponents this week. It started with Pospisil and I am gaining more and more confidence but obviously Cilic is a tough opponent, serving really well and it is going to be tough,” Kyrgios said turning the tables against Berdych after his loss at the Australian Open.
“In Australia I came out a bit flat. In the third set I started to turn things a bit but Tomas is a really professional guy and he topped me in Melbourne. But today I just come out from the get go with a lot of energy and didn’t let him to top me early and so I thought I played well,” he explained and has reached his second final on the tour after losing to Richard Gasquet in Estoril last year.
“That week I was actually down match points in the first round. I should have been disqualified actually. It was crazy scenes but I got through. Gasquet played unbelievable in the final. It was on clay and very slowly, which I think favoured Gasquet a little bit. It was a great experience. But this time, I haven’t been broken once, haven’t dropped a set so I feel more confident in the final,” Kyrgios is looking forward to Sunday.
“Marin is great server, one of the best in the game. No matter, how he struggling from the back, he always can rely on his serve and today was a great expample of that. His serve got him out of trouble. It is going to be a tough match.”
Cilic celebrated his first victory over the last remaining Frenchman in the draw, Benoit Paire, who won the only previous meeting between the two in Chennai 2013. The fourth seed from Croatia sent down 22 aces, gaining his fourth and decisive break in the fifth game of the final set to serve for a 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 win after one hour and 58 minutes.
“The first games in the match were really bad, then I changed my racquet, as I felt a problem with the stringing. After that I finally found my rhythm. This is not the worst thing but it was a bit annoying, as I had to wait for my new racquet,” Paire explained and didn’t feel any extra pressure that his family attended his matches this week.
“I am happy that my familiy is here in order to support me. This is often the case in Montpellier and Marseille. I really needed it, as I was a bit reserved on the court and didn’t serve and returned well but it simply wasn’t a good match. He got too many free points but it was difficult to read his serve and I couldn’t get into the rallies.”
Despite the loss, Paire was a in fairly good mood afterwards. “Overall the tournament has been a success and it felt good to win a couple of matches. I have a good draw in Sao Paulo and really looking forward to playing there. I just need to continue with the same motivation but I do not really worry about that. I got used to the ups and downs. The last three weeks were really bad but now I gained some confidence back,” Paire said and continues his schedule in Sao Paulo, “enjoying a nice Pina Colada”. Then he will continue on the US-swing, playing Indian Wells, Miami and Houston.
Cilic has reached his first final of the season and the first since lifting the trophy in Moscow last year.
“I knew that it would get a difficult match with Benoit, as he is a very dangerous player. I knew that I had to be very focused on my return games right from the beginning. I was very solid in the first set, but didn’t serve well in the second. I gave him a lot of free points but then I served better again followed it up with a good shot after the serve. That gave me confidence in my game. An important part for me was to be mentally stable, not having any lacks in concentration. That was the big part of this match,” Cilic told about his key to success.
“I am slowly building up. My level of tennis is obviously not at the top, so I felt to be focused as much as I could be. Sometimes you have to accept that not everything is always going the right way. I was ready for that and that kept my mental side very strong,” he continued and is facing Kyrgios for the second time on the tour. Cilic won the only previous meeting between the two at Roland Garros in 2013.
“Nick is serving amazing this week. He is playing great and I have to be ready for that but bringing my own game to the court as well. I want to enjoy my first final of the season and it is going to be very entertaining. Nick is playing a very simple game, serving bit and attacking as much as he can. So I guess, I have to do the same thing,” Cilic told with a smile.
“It’s great to have different personalities,” the mellow and calm Croat said about the having a totally different character like this of Kyrgios on the tour. “His powerful game and great serve helps him a lot. He uses this advantage in his explosiveness on the court. His character is helping him to be a bit like that, giving himself the freedom to maybe do some lose errors, which you wouldn’t see from the top guys. Then he goes on and hits several winners like a bullit. That’s personality. As long as he is keeping it under control, it is helping him. Otherwise it can be very fragile.”
Cilic appears in his second final in Marseille, as he lost to Robin Soderling in 2011. “I do not really remember too much about this match, except that I had a couple of break points and there were a some critical points. I am more stable nowadays and feel mentally more solid, as my service obviously helps me a lot.”