Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Marin Cilic pro­duced a mas­ter­class yesterday as he over­pow­ered Amer­i­can Steve John­son 6-3, 6-3 to set up a Ja­pan Open quar­ter­fi­nal against de­fend­ing cham­pion Kei Nishikori.

Mean­while, ten­nis bad boy Nick Kyr­gios bru­talised Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, the mus­cu­lar Aus­tralian tak­ing less than an hour to com­plete a 6-4, 6-2 sec­ond-round vic­tory in Tokyo with some equally strong-arm tac­tics.

Sixth seed Cilic beat the Ja­panese su­per­star in last year’s US Open fi­nal and the Croa­t­ian, who also reached the semi­fi­nals in New York last month, showed enough against John­son to sug­gest Nishikori will face a se­vere to­day.

John­son had no an­swer to the power and guile of the street-wise Cilic, who clinched the first set with a clev­erly dis­guised chip-and­charge that forced his tor­mented op­po­nent into a pan­icked fore­hand he got hor­ri­bly wrong.

An ex­quis­ite lob earned Cilic a break at the start of the sec­ond and such was John­son’s frus­tra­tion he slammed a ball out of the water­side arena to pick up a code vi­o­la­tion.

His mood dark­ened as Cilic caught fire, end­ing with a flurry of pass­ings shots, capped by a thun­der­ous fore­hand on match point to wrap up vic­tory in just 73 min­utes.

“It will be very spe­cial to play Kei in Tokyo for the first time,” said Cilic, who is chas­ing a first ti­tle of the year and the 14th of his ca­reer.

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