Marin Cilic will play Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round Marin Cilic will play Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round

Clinical Cilic into fourth round

Match Report

Marin Cilic will do well to thank big-serving countryman Ivo Karlovic for taking the heat and gifting him a night match.

The sixth seed was slated to meet Ryan Harrison for a place in the fourth round on a scorching Friday afternoon in Melbourne.

If you’re due next on court, it’s never much fun waiting around for a near-four-hour thriller to wrap up, but this was one case where Cilic did not mind in the slightest.

His good mate Karlovic fell just short in his bid for a fourth-round berth, but Cilic gave the huge contingent of Croatian fans on Hisense Arena plenty to cheer about later on Friday night when he took down Harrison 7-6(4) 6-3 7-6(4).

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“I was expecting also that it was going to be horror conditions,” Cilic grinned. “I was waiting quite a long time for Karlovic-Seppi match to finish and it wasn’t easy, but I’m really satisfied the way I played.”

Harrison arrived with form on his side, having made a surprise run to the Brisbane International final where he bowed to Nick Kyrgios, while Cilic had fallen in the semifinals in Pune, India, to eventual champion Gilles Simon.

In six prior clashes, Harrison had prevailed just once, at Acapulco in 2016.

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On Friday night, it was Cilic – the 2014 US Open champion – who stood more solid in the crunch moments. He brought up two set points for 6-4 in the first-set tiebreak with his fourth ace, and took it with a thunderous forehand into an open court.

The Croatian finally landed the first break of the match for 4-2 in the second set, and barring a scare when attempting to serve it out, he steadied to take a two-set lead when the American fired long.

Cilic looked well on his way to another straight-sets victory when he broke early in the third but Harrison, backing his huge heavily coiled forehand, reeled off three straight games to edge ahead 4-3.

A tiebreak would again decide the set, and again it was Cilic who shone under pressure, booking a fourth-round berth on his third match point with a crosscourt backhand winner.

53 Marin Cilic
24 Ryan Harrison

“Ryan played really good today. I was expecting also that he’s going to come out playing well. He’s had a good start to the season, playing finals in Brisbane and a good two wins over here, and definitely it was tough,” Cilic said.

“It was tough to get used to the conditions, a little bit cooler now in the evening, but really pleased with the win.”

Next up: 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

“We’ve played only once a year and a half ago indoors, and Pablo is a really solid player,” Cilic said. 

“He’s very consistent throughout the year and obviously played really well also over here, beat [Gilles] Muller today.”

Cilic stands on the verge of his first Australian Open quarterfinal berth in eight years.

Karlovic might not have much bearing on what time of day that one is played, but Cilic will be pleased enough should it too be scheduled for Hisense Arena.

He’s a perfect three from three there in 2018: “Absolutely, I would like to stay here the full two weeks.” 

19 Jan 18
Match highlights from Marin Čilić's win against Ryan Harrison at the Australian Open 2018.

Marin Cilic def. Ryan Harrison match highlights (3R)