Cilic battles past Klizan to advance at Madrid Open

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Cilic battles past Klizan to advance at Madrid Open

Marin Cilic ended his losing run but had to save four match points before prevailing by a final set tie-break against Slovakian qualifier Martin Klizan in the first round of the Madrid Open. The Croatian had been beaten in his last four matches and was on the brink of another early exit as he served to stay in the match at 5-6 down in the decider, with Klizan spurning four opportunities for victory. Cilic, seeded ninth despite previously winning just once since the Australian Open, held his nerve and triumphed 6-4 2-6 7-6 (0) in two hours and 48 minutes. He next takes on Jan-Lennard Struff, the German who ended the challenge of Nick Kyrgios on Sunday. Karen Khachanov, the 11th seed, was also taken to three sets before sealing a 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-3 win over home hope Jaume Munar. The Russian trailed 3-0 in both the first and second sets but won five of the first six games in the decider to move into the second round. American qualifier Taylor Fritz claimed a surprise 7-6 (8) 7-6 (4) over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, ranked as high as third in the world in November 2017. Fritz takes on top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic next. Fourteenth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili was not as fortunate as the Georgian as he went down to a 6-7 (8) 6-3 6-4 defeat to America’s Frances Tiafoe. Gael Monfils brushed aside Italy’s Andreas Seppi, while the 15th seed’s fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet dispatched Spanish wild card Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 7-6 (5). Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco overcame a second-set blip to beat Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-2 3-6 6-1. Laslo Djere defeated fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber overcame Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-2 7-6 (5) and American qualifier Reilly Opelka downed Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (5) 6-4.