Pune, Jan 4 (PTI) Top seed Marin Cilic unleashed his power-packed game to move into the singles quarterfinals of the Tata Open Maharashtra as the World No. 17 beat Roberto Carballes Baena in a three-setter here on Wednesday.
Serving big, moving fluently on the court and executing smart drop shots, the tall Croatian won the second round 6-3 3-6 6-1 against the world number 74 from Spain at the Balewadi Stadium.
Except for a brief period when he struggled to contain unforced errors in the second set, Cilic kept the match in his grip. Cilic fired 16 aces in the contest that he won in two hours and two minutes.
Second seed Botic Van De Zandschulp though had to battle hard in his match before prevailing over Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli, placed 171 on the ATP singles chart.
The Dutch player won 7-5 6-4 after battling it out for one hour and 33 minutes to set up a last-eight clash against the German qualifier Maximilian Marterer, who sent packing Serbian, Laslo Djere 7-6(5) 6-2.
Last year’s runner-up and third seed Emil Ruusuvuori was knocked out by Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-1 7-6(4) in his opening round.
Another top player biting the dust was fourth seed and world number 43 Argentine Sebastian Baez, who lost 3-6 6-1 6-3 to Pedro Martinez from Spain.
Cilic was in nice rhythm from the word go, moving his rival on both the flanks and after pinning him on one corner, he fired winners in open court as a helpless Baena watched in exasperation.
Cilic’s first break came in the fourth game when Baena made two consecutive unforced errors in his backhand at 30-all. Several times Cilic caught him wrong-footed for easy winners.
The intermittent aces just made it an easy job for the Croat, who has won this tournament twice (2009, 2010) when it was held in Chennai.
He consolidated the break with an easy hold and could have closed the set in the seventh game but Baena saved two set point.
Cilic, who got a bye in the first round, completed the job in the ninth game with a crushing forehand winner.
The second set stayed on serve till the fifth game. Cilic started to make unforced errors and was suddenly down a break point in the sixth game. He served a double fault at 30-40 to hand the Spanish his first break of the match and a small yet crucial 4-2 lead.
Baena came out to serve out the second set and began with an ace. Without much fuss, he forced a decider with a big serve that Cilic could not return.
An early break in the second game and the following hold put Cilic ahead 3-0 in the deciding set and from there it was not tough for him to close out the contest in his favour.
Cilic saved a break point while serving for the match in the seventh game, firing his 15th ace, but was soon facing a second when Baena found a forehand winner at deuce.
The Spaniard though could not convert, missing a forehand winner by half an inch and hit the ball long on second match point for Cilic.
Cilic will next play Dutch Tallion Griekspoor, who knocked out Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-4.
Source: PTI News