World #8 and 2009 Roland Garros champion Roger Federer battled past Marin Cilic 6-2 2-6 7-6 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes.
Roger Federer def. Marin Cilic
Both players looked sharp and focused from the first point, trying battle through their strokes and service games. Cilic was tying to put the pressure on the Swiss, earning himself a break point in the first return game. He couldn’t convert, and Federer responded by breaking the Croatian in the following game to take a 2-1 lead. The World #8 began to gain momentum in the points and games, displaying his incredible speed and finesse to win the first set 6-2 in 32 minutes.
The second set showcased a higher level of play from Cilic, who seemed to be giving it all his best. He started to produce many aces and heavy forehands on the return games which payed off getting him his first break at 2-0. As the set continued, there was a little situation at deuce in the fourth game between Federer and the umpire. With 13 seconds left on the clock but Cilic ready to serve, the umpire gave Federer a time violation warning. Federer didn’t seem too pleased, and they exchanged a few words in French for about three minutes. Federer later accepted the violation and returned to the baseline to resume play, despite his displeasure. From that point it clearly seemed that the Swiss’ focus was definitely interrupted, and he made some unusual errors that eventually cost him the set.
Federer appeared to have regained his composure in the third set and began to play very aggressively, moving around the court and trying to hit winners to shorten points. The Croatian’s game, on the other hand, began to pound Federer with heavy groundstrokes and serves. The 2009 champion, however, found his opening in the third game, breaking Cilic’s serve at 2-1. Nonetheless, Cilic was not about to give up the set and broke Federer at 3-3 with some spectacular tennis. The two didn’t leave any loose ends on their service games after that, leading to a tiebreak. Federer is well-known for his incredible tie-break record, and he didn’t give up a single point on his serve in the breaker. One Cilic double fault at 1*-2 made the difference.
In the fourth set, it was clear that Federer had the upper hand in terms of play and confidence, but Cilic appeared to be drained and exhausted after the 53-minute third set. Federer took advantage of the situation, earning a break point in the third game thanks to a net cord that allowed him to close the point. His good fortune continued in the next point, when Cilic gifted him the break with a double fault. The Swiss quickly consolidated their lead and continued to put pressure on Clilc. At 5-2, Cilic appeared exhausted, despite playing a solid game, but Federer was on another level. The Swiss finally closed the match with a deep forehand return, resulting in an error from the Croatian.
“[It was a] very good match for me, I thought,” Federer said. “A bit of up-and-downs in the second and third sets. The good thing, I feel like I come out of a match like this and I know why it was up and down, and then that I was able to attain a solid level once he did break back in the third set and things were looking dangerous for me.
Draw and Opponents
Next up for Federer is Dominik Koepfer of Germany. He defeated American Taylor Fritz in four sets as well. If Federer plays similarly to how he played Cilic, there is no doubt that Roger Federer can land himself a spot in the second week of the French Open.
Main Photo from Getty.