Cilic qual­i­fies for ATP Fi­nals, Djokovic and Mur­ray ad­vance

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Marin Cilic ended a three-match los­ing streak against David Goffin at the Paris Mas­ters yes­ter­day to earn a spot at the ATP Fi­nals.

The for­mer U.S. Open cham­pion needs to stop an even worse run if he is to make it to the last four in the French cap­i­tal.

Cilic con­verted his sixth match point to beat Goffin 6-3, 7-6 (9) at the in­door tour­na­ment, giv­ing him a spot in the quar­ter­fi­nals and one of the re­main­ing two berths in the eight-man ATP Fi­nals in Lon­don this month.

Next on his plate is top-ranked No­vak Djokjovic, who ral­lied past Grigor Dim­itrov 4-6, 6-2, 63. Cilic has a ter­ri­ble 0-14 record against the Serb.

“He likes to play me,” Cilic said. “Or if you want to put it around dif­fer­ently, I don’t like to play him that much.”

A three-time de­fend­ing cham­pion at the Paris Mas­ters, Djokovic sealed vic­tory on his sec­ond match point. Dim­itrov served and re­turned ex­tremely well in the opener, then the Bul­gar­ian ap­peared to lose his fo­cus and was un­done by mul­ti­ple er­rors.

Djokovic called the trainer at 31 up in the sec­ond set be­cause of pain in his right knee af­ter fall­ing while chas­ing a shot. He played with more ac­cu­racy af­ter­wards.

“No prob­lem, thank­fully,” Djokovic said. “Just an awk­ward foot­ing in that point, but all is well.”

Andy Mur­ray, who can top­ple Djokovic in the rank­ings if he wins the tour­na­ment and Djokovic does not reach the fi­nal, made the quar­ters with no trou­ble, dis­patch­ing Lucas Pouille of France 6-3, 6-0.

Cilic is en­joy­ing a strong fin­ish to the sea­son af­ter a knee in­jury ham­pered him in the spring. He won his sec­ond ti­tle of the year last week in Basel, and af­ter the ATP Fi­nals he is ex­pected to lead Croa­tia in the Davis Cup fi­nal against Ar­gentina.

“I was ex­pect­ing it,” Cilic said about mak­ing the ATP Fi­nals. “It was the goal of the sea­son for me.”

Goffin won their three pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters, all of them this year, but Cilic was bet­ter yes­ter­day on cru­cial points, of­ten us­ing his big serve to lift him­self out of trou­ble.

The Croat also made up for his many un­forced er­rors with ag­gres­sive shot-mak­ing in the tiebreak. He raised his arms in tri­umph and screamed af­ter Goffin framed a fore­hand to end it.

Goffin served for the sec­ond set at 5-3 and crum­bled, bro­ken at love.

“In some mo­ments of the match, I could have done a bit bet­ter,” said Goffin, who needed to win in Paris to qual­ify for the ATP Fi­nals. “But he played well and he didn’t give me many op­por­tu­ni­ties. I gave away many points to him.”

Do­minic Thiem of Aus­tria will com­plete the field in Lon­don if To­mas Berdych fails to reach the semi­fi­nals in Paris and Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga does not win the ti­tle.

Also, there will be an al­lAmer­i­can quar­ter­fi­nal be­tween big-hit­ter Jack Sock and bigserver John Is­ner.

Sock reached the quar­ters for the first time by beat­ing Richard Gas­quet of France 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 while Is­ner de­feated JanLen­nard Struff of Ger­many 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

Facing a par­ti­san crowd, Sock took an all-risk ap­proach that paid div­i­dends. Sock, who was the run­ner-up in Stock­holm two weeks ago, lost only two points on serve in the first set. He hit nine aces and an im­pres­sive to­tal of 43 win­ners.

Gas­quet saved two match points at 4-5 in the de­cider, in­clud­ing a beau­ti­ful half-vol­ley that drew a smile from Sock, but the Amer­i­can con­tin­ued to play ag­gres­sively, earn­ing an­other break to seal the match.

“Well, with him, on ev­ery point you have to run re­ally fast,” Gas­quet said. “He’s hit­ting hard on ev­ery shot. If you try to con­trol the ball and not play too hard, you’re done.”

Fourth-seeded Mi­los Raonic also ad­vanced af­ter ral­ly­ing past Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Croa­tia's Marin Cilic re­turns a shot against David Goffin of Bel­gium dur­ing the semi­fi­nal match Photo: AP

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