Cilic produces an epic win

Antonio Arenas Mutua News

There were no big upsets, but no shortage of thrilling matches either, on the second day of competition in the men’s singles at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. Most of the seeds progressed and only the defeat of the Georgian Basilashvili, the 14th seed, prevented a clean sweep for the favourites. The standout result elsewhere came from Taylor Fritz, who saw off Grigor Dimitrov.

World number 11 Marin Cilic’s marathon 6-4 2-6 7-6(0) victory over Martin Klizan in two hours and 48 minutes was the match of the tournament so far. The Croat justified his status as favourite and sealed his passage to the next round, but with far more difficulty than was expected. Klizan, who came through qualifying, proved to be in fine form in Madrid and he made use of his pace around to court to earn himself as many as five match points, none of which he managed to convert. The giant from Medjugorje needed nerves of steel to brave the storm and some impressive serving saw him through (he won 75% of points on his first serve). The German world number 49, Lennard Struff, awaits him in the second round.

In Stadium 3, just before Cilic, Francis Tiafoe, the world number 37 produced the comeback of the day against Nikoloz Basilashvili (17), beating him 6-7(8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours of play. The US player dug in on the Madrid clay to come back from a set down and a break down in the second set. It is Tiafoe’s first victory in the Mutua Madrid Open and the result means he joins his compatriot Reilly Opelka, who beat Pablo Carreño in the second round. His opponent in his next match will be Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4 7-6(5) on the Caja Mágica’s court number 5.

In the Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario Stadium the young Taylor Fritz completed a clean sweep for the US players. Three from three, when none were expected to win. Fritz’s was perhaps the most surprising of the victories for team USA, but the ex-junior world number 1 showed that he is getting more comfortable on the ATP tour. So much so that he was able to see off a Grigor Dimitrov who came flying out of the blocks and seemed on course for an easy win. But Fritz never gave up and sealed victory after two tough sets (7-6(8) 7-6(4)) to reach the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open for the first time.

On the outside courts, the day ended with an all-Serbian clash between Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic. The 6-4, 6-4 victory went to the former and he will square off against Juan Martín Del Potro in the second round.