Birthday Boy Cilic Reaches Quarterfinals In Tel Aviv

Marin Cilic (photo: Tel Aviv Watergen Open)

TEL AVIV/STARNBERG, September 28, 2022

Marin Cilic from Croatia celebrated his 34th birthday in style on Wednesday evening with a second-round win over Dominic Thiem at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. The second seed of the ATP Tour 250 hard-court event rallied past the wild card 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.

In the pair’s fifth meeting, Cilic struck 15 aces and broke Thiem’s serve four times to secure his first victory over the Austrian in two hours and 43 minutes.

“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!”

In the top half of the draw, Maxime Cressy beat fellow US-American Sebastian Korda 6-4, 6-4.  The No. 4 seed fired 14 aces and won 90 per cent of his first-service points to prevail in one hour and 24 minutes. Cressy will next play either seventh-seeded Frenchman Constant Lestienne or Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

In other action, Roman Safiullin secured his second tour-level quarterfinal appearance with a 6-1, 6-4 second-round win against Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina in one hour and 17 minutes. The 104th-ranked Russian’s previous quarterfinal also came on indoor hard courts, in February in Marseille, where he ultimately fell in the stage of the last four. His next opponent in Israel will be third-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman or Arthur Rinderknech of France.

Djokovic starts singles campaign on Thursday

Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia will open his Tel Aviv title bid against Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar, who edged past Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 7-6(3), 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes. Djokovic was scheduled to play doubles alongside his long-standing friend and home favourite Jonathan Erlich. The 45-year-old Israeli, however, was forced to withdraw from the match against the all-Dutch combination of Sander Arends and Bart Stevens due to an injury.