Cilic cruises at Kooy­ong ahead of Grand Slam

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT -

LAST year’s Aus­tralian Open fi­nal­ist Marin Cilic rounded off his prepa­ra­tions for this year’s edi­tion in style on Thursday, winning his sec­ond match in as many days at the Kooy­ong Clas­sic.

With the first Grand Slam of the sea­son start­ing on Mon­day, ev­ery op­por­tu­nity is im­por­tant for the Croa­t­ian, who went down in a bat­tle to Roger Federer in the Mel­bourne Park de­cider in 2018.

The world No7 beat Spain’s Fer­nando Ver­dasco 6-4, 6-4, back­ing up his three­set vic­tory a day be­fore over world No6 Kevin An­der­son.

Ear­lier, Amer­i­can Jack Sock lost to fas­tris­ing Cana­dian teenager De­nis Shapo­valov 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 af­ter a fi­nal set played as a 10-point tiebreak – the for­mat which will be used at the Aus­tralian Open from Mon­day.

Un­der the rules, the first player to win at least 10 points by a two-point mar­gin takes the match.

Ahead of the Aus­tralian Open last year, Sock was at a ca­reer-high eighth in the world rank­ings, but af­ter a hor­ror sea­son he has plunged out­side the top 100 and is des­per­ate to turn it around.

His form slump has been dra­matic. He played 31 sin­gles matches in 2018, winning a mere nine.

“I had some pretty low mo­ments last year, it was hor­ren­dous,” said Sock. “I did a lot of re­group­ing in the off-sea­son, talk­ing to fam­ily, team mem­bers, coaches.

“I’m try­ing to take a pos­i­tive out­look. I know the level that I can play the game, where my game should be.”

With the Aus­tralian Open just days away, he is grate­ful to be out of the spot­light to fo­cus on him­self.

“It’s nice to be able to fly un­der the radar and do my own thing.”

Shapo­valov, 19, made up for lost time af­ter los­ing in the first round at Auckland this week and then cross­ing the Tas­man to squeeze into the Kooy­ong draw as a late en­try.

“It’s great to be here and get an­other match, fire a few balls,” the world No27 said. “It’s an­other chance to get the match feel.

“You have some of the pres­sure, there’s a crowd watch­ing. It’s a chance to get a lit­tle bit more ready for the Slam.”

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