Marin Cilic met Janko Tipsarevic for the ninth time in his career in the second round of the Aegon Championships. The match lasted just 70 minutes before Cilic emerged victorious in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
While Cilic was nearly perfect on first serve points, winning 31 of 34 in the match, it was Tipsarevic's inability to win one of his three break point chances that doomed him. Also, getting broken at love three times won't lead to success very often, especially against the world number 13. However, for Tipsarevic, a player who has fallen from grace over the past two years, getting past Grigor Dimitrov and making it this far is quite an accomplishment. And for those who worry about ATP rankings, even with a loss, the Serb will move up 139 spots to number 414 in the world.
Cilic Gets Boost At The Right Time
It took Tipsarevic just four points to win his first service game, but Cilic quickly responded with three aces en route to a love hold of his own. Another love hold brought the Serb to 8-0 on service points. After thirteen points, a returner finally got a point, this one via a backhand into the net by Cilic. Nonetheless, the Croatian held serve without another blip.
Play remained on serve for the next three games and Tipsarevic held a 4-3 lead. A service break seemed like a pipe dream with seven games played and only one return point won in each of the previous four games. In the eighth game, the world number 553 capitalized on a weak second serve to take the first lead for any returner at 0-15. Cilic cranked out three big serves, including two aces, to take a 40-15 lead before racking up errors and giving his opponent the first break point chance of the match. Tipsarevic couldn't capitalize on this golden opportunity, but he stayed alive for three more deuces before Cilic closed out the game—bringing the score to 4-4. That missed break would prove to be costly for the Serb.
The pendulum finally swung in favor of the returner as Cilic began whipping winners left and right. He broke serve without giving up a single point. Up 5-4, the fifth seed was serving to take the first set. The first point was an ace, and Cilic had yet to lose a point on his first serve. In contrast, the second point went the other way on a double fault. The last three points, all in favor of the fifth seed, finished off the set. Cilic took it, 6-4.
Cilic Opens Flood Gates
Similarly to the first set, the set began with little success from the returner; but unlike the first set where it took eight games to see a break point chance, Cilic was able to find a break point in the third game after Tipsarevic missed backhand wide. At 30-40, the Serb fired a big serve out wide that wasn't returned. A forehand error from the world number 553 gave the world number 13 another look at a break. Once again, though, a big serve saved the break. Tipsarevic finished out the game with the help of some Cilic errors.
The scripts were immediately flipped after the changeover as it was Cilic who had to save a break point at 30-40. Mirroring the previous game, an unreturned serve saved the first break point, then a rocket of a return set up another break point. After 26 shots, Cilic finally saved the second break point. Following a hot shot forehand crosscourt with an ace finished off the game, and the score remained on serve at 2-2.
The correlation to the first set hadn't ceased yet. In the first, Cilic responded to Tipsarevic's break point chances with a break at love. The second set featured more of the same, and a love break gave the Croatian a 3-2 lead. The fifth seed consolidated the break to lead 4-2, but he wasn't finished there. For the third time in the match, Tipsarevic was broken at love. Cilic, holding a 5-2 lead, now had a clear path to victory. Wasting no time, the world number thirteen held at love, racing through the finish line and winning the set 6-2. A 10-0 run to close out the set should give Cilic plenty of momentum and confidence heading into his next match.
With his seventh career victory over Tipsarevic, Cilic will move on to the Queen's Club quarterfinal where he will meet American Steve Johnson, whom he beat in their lone encounter in Tokyo in 2015.