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Cilic beats Isner at ATP Finals

Cilic beats Isner at ATP Finals
Marin Cilic returns a shot to John Isner during their ATP Finals match.
London, Nov 15 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 11/15/2018 11:55:18 AM IST

Perennial O2 loser, Marin Cilic, finally got into the winning habit with only his second victory in 11 matches at the ATP Finals.

Cilic battled back to defeat an emotional John Isner and put himself in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages at the end-of-season tournament, claiming a 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4 success.

Emotions were running high for Isner, who heard the sad news that his best friend, former strength coach, Kyle Morgan, had lost his life.

The American posted a tribute to the former Florida Gator football player on social media on Tuesday and came out for his latest round-robin match wearing his initials ‘KM’ on his trainers.

Cilic was forced to save three set points in an epic 10th game as he struggled to deliver a first serve, losing his rhythm, while Isner was playing impeccably controlled tennis.

Somewhat unsurprisingly we headed into a tie-break and Isner, who claimed the biggest title of his career by winning the Miami Open earlier this year, took charge with some brilliant serving and huge groundstrokes on his way to the set.

Since losing the first six matches between the pair, Isner has won three out of the past four, and the 33-year-old, who is the oldest first-time qualifier at the season-ending tournament since a 35-year-old Andreas Gimeno debuted at the championships in 1972, appeared to be in an inspired mood.

He was forced to save two break-points in the sixth game thanks to more huge serving, which was proving dispiriting for the fifth-seeded Croatian, until he gifted Cilic the vital break he craved after finally cracking in the eighth game with a rare double-fault. That allowed last year’s Wimbledon runner-up to wrap up the set and level things up.

Nerves appeared to creep into play with both players unable to hold serve as the opening three games of the deciding set went against the server until Cilic got a grip of proceedings to stay ahead and held his nerve to serve it out. The result means Novak Djokovic will advance to the knockout stages for the eighth time in the year-end championships.

Cilic will take on world No 1 Djokovic in his final round-robin match, while Isner faces Alexander Zverev in a must-win clash for both men on Friday.

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