A near-capacity crowd was treated to close to a three-hour top quality tennis at the end of which defending champion and second seed from Croatia Marin Cilic lifted the title for the second time in succession with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3) win over Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.
With this win Cilic also equalled Carlos Moya’s record for most number of titles at this event. The Spaniard had emerged champion here in 2004 and 2005.
Wawrinka had become a sort of bogey for Cilic, who had lost all his four previous encounters to the World number 21. And the 21-year-old couldn’t have chosen a better occasion to get the monkey off his back. Cilic’s fourth career title helped him pocket a cool $68,450 besides 250 ATP ranking points, while Wawrinka, apart from earning 150 ranking points, was richer by $35,980.
As the score-line suggests it was a see-saw battle from both the players who spent every ounce of their energy under testing conditions. Wawrinka’s beautiful backhand matched Cilic’s ferocious forehand, but he lost the battle when it became a mental fight. “It wasn’t easy at all to tell you. It was by far my toughest final I would say. It was humid and the ball was getting bigger. Towards the end it was the legs that were doing the job for me,” Cilic remarked when asked about his win.
“But I am proud to have won two titles here. It was so humid out there today – I know it’s winter here and I dread to imagine how the summer would be – and I had work really hard for the victory,” he added.
The first two games went on serves as both the players held them with effortless ease. Cilic pushed Wawrinka in the third game and even held a break point, but the Swiss player managed to hold on to his serve. After holding the seventh game with a backhand winner, Wawrinka seemed to have hurt his neck while turning his head sharply and the third seed needed a close to ten-minute on-court medical attention. Wawrinka appeared none the worse for his injury as he broke his rival in the next game when Cilic failed to put an easy short ball away.
The game also saw two contentious calls being awarded in favour of Cilic, but he couldn’t make use of the benefit of doubt.
He didn’t have to as the 6’6’’ player broke Wawrinka back in the next game when the latter’s back hand fell long. Having frittered away the chance to close out the set, Wawrinka looked out of sorts in the tie-break. Cilic ran up a 3-0 lead before wrapping it at 7-2 after an hour and 16 minutes.
Having bagged the first set, Cilic looked in a trifle hurry opening up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second. Wawrinka, however, rallied to break him back in the next as the set once again headed to tie-break. Wawrinka was marginally better in the second tie-break and Cilic clinched it at 7-3 to be crowned the king again at Chennai.
Spanish pair wins
Spanish pair of Marcel Granollers and Santiago Ventura won the doubles title beating Serbian Janko Tipsarevic and Taipei’s Lu Yen-Hsun 7-5, 6-2.
DH News Service
Results (finals): Singles: 2-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 3-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3).
Doubles: Marcel Granollers/ Santiago Ventura (Esp) bt Janko Tipsarevic (Ser)/ Lu Yen-Hsun (Tai) 7-5, 6-2.