ATP Paris: Marin Cilic comes out on top of battle of the London hopefuls

Marin Cilic secured his place at the ATP World Tour Finals, ending David Goffin's London hopes with a 6-3, 7-6(9) win in the BNP Paribas Masters third round. Cilic will now play either Novak Djokovic or Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals.

The pair exchanged breaks in the opening set. Cilic twice lost his lead but he kept the third break and served out the opener with plenty of tight games but Goffin having nothing to show for the battle. Goffin looked to be making his comeback in the second set as he went a break up at the crucial time that allowed him to serve for the set, but a horror service game got Cilic straight back into the set. The Belgian then made an amazing comeback in the tiebreak from 3-6 down to set point at 9-8, but he couldn't win a point from there as Cilic reeled off the next three to secure his place in the quarterfinals.

Exchanges of breaks

Cilic fired down an ace to begin the match. A couple of loose errors from the Croatian followed by a great pickup by Goffin gave the Belgian a break point for an early lead. Another ace got Cilic out of trouble and he took the crucial early hold. Big returning from Cilic threw Goffin off balance and the Croatian quickly earned himself three  break points. Goffin managed to fend off the first two but the third went the way of Cilic for a 2-0 lead. The lead was in danger straight away as Goffin stayed solid at the baseline to earn himself two break back points. Cilic saved the first of the break points but Goffin took the second as Cilic netted the ball to go back on serve. 

Cilic serves to Goffin (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Cilic serves to Goffin (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Danger appeared for Goffin in the next game with Cilic threatening the break, four times battling to deuce, and eventually the Croatian took his first break point with a passing shot to regain his lead. A perfectly timed backhand down the line gave Goffin a 15-30 lead on return but Cilic leveled them up with a huge serve. Cilic fought for a game point but the Belgian wasn't giving up as he took them back to deuce, but finally Cilic held on to cement his lead at 4-1. 

He was made to work hard for it, but eventually, Goffin got his first hold of the match and followed up with an impressive return game and excellent defense to again steal back Cilic's lead. The Croatian struck back immediately in the next game, reclaiming his lead at the crucial time that would allow him to serve for the first set. Goffin saved two set points as he pushed through to deuce but Cilic survived, taking his third set point with a huge serve to seal the first set 6-3. 

Set of missed opportunities

Goffin got off to a better start in the second with a good hold. Cilic followed with a great love hold to quickly tie them up. Both men came through another mini-battle on serve each as both were relentless on return to try and steal the lead, but both survived to stay level.  

A much easier hold came for Cilic and the same looked to be coming for Goffin. The Croatian pushed through from 40-0 to 40-30 but Goffin survived the pressure and held on. A lead on return came for Goffin in the next game at 0-30 and big groundstrokes and returning gave the Belgian the late break to serve for the second set.  

A nightmare game from Goffin came at the worst possible time and a string of loose points gave Cilic three break points. The break back was then handed to the Croatian with a double fault keeping him in touch at 5-4. 

Cilic strikes a forehand (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Cilic soaked up the pressure as he served to stay in the set and then took a lead on the return as Goffin quickly found himself in a 0-30 hole. The Belgian then survived relentless defense from Cilic and took the next two points to level them up. A missed return from the Croatian gave Goffin a game point, which was erased with another double fault. A second double fault in a row gave Cilic a break point but Goffin showed off his incredible defending to get out of trouble and seal the crucial hold. 

Goffin then went on the offensive to take a 0-30 lead on the return as Cilic was again serving to stay in the set. Huge serving got Cilic out of trouble and took the pair into a tiebreak. It was a horrible start to the tiebreak for Goffin as he began with a double fault, straight away handing a mini-break lead to Cilic. The lead didn't last long as Cilic netted a backhand to level them. They split the next two points to stay level at 2-2 but a loose backhand from Goffin once again gave Cilic a mini-break lead. The lead was lost again as the Croatian struck a backhand wide. An ace kept Cilic ahead at 4-3 and a huge forehand took him to another mini-break lead.

More bullying groundstrokes gave Cilic a second break and three match points. Goffin wasn't giving up just yet as excellent defense and a missed forehand from Cilic stole back both of the mini-breaks. A forehand from the Croatian flew wide to erase all three match points and tie up the pair at 6-6. Just as he looked to be in danger, Cilic was gifted another match point with an error from Goffin, but he was unable to take advantage. After recovering from a great return from Goffin, the Croatian missed an easy forehand to extend the tiebreak. Goffin then took his next two points on serve to earn himself a set point, but Cilic dominated from there, taking the next three points to seal the match and his place at the O2 Arena.