Cilic batters his way into Japan Open semifinals

Tokyo: Big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic sent down 11 aces as he took less than an hour to advance to the semi-finals of the Japan Open on Friday with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of American Ryan Harrison.
Top seed Cilic won a staggering 20 out of 21 points on first serve and faced no break points as he demolished Harrison, who is 47 places below him in the world rankings, in 52 minutes.
The 29-year-old towering Croatian, runner-up to Roger Federer at this year’s Wimbledon, next faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino who finished off local favourite Yuichi Sugita with a 6-2, 6-4 win on Friday.
Cilic’s path to the final was made considerably easier after third seed Milos Raonic was forced to withdraw on Thursday with a calf injury, the latest blip in what the Canadian described as a “difficult and frustrating year”. And Cilic will be hoping to go one better than last season in Tokyo where he lost in the semifinal to Belgium’s David Goffin.
Cilic’s conqueror Goffin may yet lie in wait for him in the final after he battled back from a seemingly impossible first-set position against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
In a Franco-Belgian clash that served as a foretaste of next month’s Davis Cup final, Goffin found himself 5-3 down and facing three set points against the former world number seven before coming through 7-5, 6-2 in Tokyo.
Goffin now faces eighth seed Diego Schwartzman from Argentina, who put an end to the impressive run of world number 46 Steve Johnson.
The American had caused the biggest surprise of the tournament so far by beating Austrian star Dominic Thiem in the first round but he struggled on service against Schwartzman, facing 17 break points.
Cilic heads the Tokyo field this year at a tournament previously won by tennis greats such as Ken Rosewall, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. — AFP

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