Cilic qualifies for ATP Finals, Djokovic and Murray advance
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