Cilic Makes Back-To-Back Adelaide International Semifinals

Marin Cilic (photo: David Mariuz / Tennis Australia)

ADELAIDE/WASHINGTON, January 13, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Fourth seed Marin Cilic reached his second straight Adelaide International semifinal in two weeks at the ATP 250 Adelaide International 2 Thursday with a solid performance against a very good opponent.

The No. 29 from Croatia fired 14 aces and won 84 percent (38 of 45) of his first-serve points to defeat 41st-ranked American Tommy Paul, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, in an hour and 56 minutes on Centre Court at Memorial Drive. The victory was Cilic’s fourth in five matches this season. Last week, Cilic achieved the milestone of his 550th ATP Tour singles victory.


Cilic acknowledged in a recent Adelaide press conference that playing well in the Australian Open lead-up tournaments transfers well onto his form and is a predictor for good success in the major.

“That’s one of the aspects I’m focused in these two weeks, to try to play really well, to go full flat out to see where my game is at,” Cilic said. “Do I need to tweak things out? Do I need to add some things in practices or maybe in the matches as well?

“For me, these matches are incredible valuable. Hoping that I’m going to keep going with wins. Definitely, it can grow into my confidence.”

Next, Cilic will face 145th-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis, who rallied past No. 160 Aleksandar Vukic, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, on the strength of 17 aces and 39 winners, in a battle of Australian wild cards that lasted two hours and 16 minutes. Like Cilic, Kokkinakis also was a semifinalist in the Adelaide International 1 event last week.

“He’s just good,” Kokkinakis said of Cilic. “He does everything well. Good serve. Backhand, when he was at his best, was money. His forehand is pretty good. He does everything really well. Super professional, super intense.

“I am not going to beat him by sitting back and waiting. I have to serve how I’ve been serving – I’ve been serving great.”

Meanwhile, World No. 58 Arthur Rinderknech of France upset 30th-ranked third seed Karen Khachanov of Russia, 7-6 (7), 7-5, in an hour and 43 minutes by taking advantage of a pair of service breaks. The win advanced Rinderknech into his second tour-level semifinal following his run at Kitzbühel last year.

On Friday, Rinderknech will face 115th-ranked qualifier Corentin Moutet of France, who eliminated 89th-ranked lucky loser Thiago Monteiro, 6-4, 6-4, in one hour and 45 minutes, to reach his third tour-level semifinal.

Murray reaches first ATP Tour semifinal since 2019

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray reached his first tour-level semifinal since 2019 at Antwerp after David Goffin of Belgium, his quarterfinal opponent, was forced to retire after the first set due to an injury to his left knee.

The 134th-ranked wild card Murray from Great Britain, who saved both break points he faced to win the 46-minute opening set 6-2, now leads Goffin 7-0 in their career head-to-head meetings.

“Because I have been through my injuries, I know how tough it can be; it’s not easy for David,” Murray said during his press conference. “You know, he’s been out for like eight months or so with a couple of different injuries. Seem like the issue is on the same knee that he’s been struggling with.

“Really unfortunate for him. I think he had been playing quite well this week. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious and he’ll be okay for the Australian Open.”

Goffin said during his press conference that he was “scared” during the match, “like because my knee was bothering me for a long time now, and it was a little bit something new coming in my knee. So, I was like very worried and didn’t dare to go on the knee to do some full steps.

“That’s why it [didn’t] make sense to continue. If you’re worried, you don’t dare to go, don’t dare to run, then it’s impossible to play. It’s in your head.”

Goffin said he’s hopeful to be ready for the Australian Open, which begins Monday.

Next, Murray will face the big-serving American Reilly Opelka in the semifinal round. The 25th-ranked and fourth seed Opelka advanced with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over fellow American Brandon Nakashima, ranked 68th. Opelka struck 17 aces during his 86-minute victory.

Elsewhere, top seed Aslan Karatsev, who entered last year’s Australian Open as a qualifier and parlayed it into a breakthrough run to the last four, held off No. 5 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, in two hours and 49 minutes. The 20th-ranked Karatsev broke Sonego’s serve five times to reach his fifth tour-level semifinal in the past year.

Next, Karatsev will play Great Britain’s 26th-ranked Dan Evans after the third seed earned a satisfying 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over No. 75 Maxime Cressy of the United States, last week’s finalist at the Melbourne Summer Set, in one hour and 54 minutes. Earlier Thursday, Cressy reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 rain-delayed win over No. 6 seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, ranked 43rd.

“It was a good, tough match,” Evans said of his win over Cressy during a late-night press conference. He hit 25 winners and outpointed Cressy 74-61. “He played very well and made it difficult for me. It was a late start, so you know, I had to bring good intensity and some energy.”

The Evans-Cressy quarterfinal, which was the last match to begin, took court at Ken Rosewall Arena at 8:54 p.m. in Sydney. They wrapped up play at 10:48 p.m.

“Waiting around all day was, you know, difficult, waiting for an opponent to come through,” Evans admitted. “So, it wasn’t the easiest of days, but I did well at the end. … It’s a long day, but it’s worth it to come through and get into the semis.”