Anderson survives a scare

Anderson survives a scare

Anderson survives a scare

Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson, the two Grand Slam finalists in 2017, raised the prospects of a title clash after reaching the semifinals of the Tata Open Maharashtra, albeit, with contrasting wins, here on Thursday.

Top seed Cilic from Croatia outplayed eighth seed Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-2 in 64 minutes  and Anderson survived a mighty scare from a dogged Mikhail Kukushkin before edging him 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2.

The US Open finalist Anderson had to  dig deep  against the Kazakh in an intense quarterfinal tie.  The South African  fired 24 aces.

Anderson  hardly lost a point on his serve initially but as the match wore on, Kukushkin started to dominate. His consistency with returns had  the South African  gasping.  

Anderson saved a breakpoint in the fifth game after double faulting at 30-30 and so did Kukushkin in the next game. Kukushkin served extremely well on the first break chance to make it deuce but Anderson found a solid backhand winner to earn second but could not convert.

Kukushkin tried hard  but his execution was not proper. Soon the South African got the break to take a 5-3 lead. However, Kukushkin with his excellent court coverage found a way to get the break back, converting his fourth chance in the ninth game and saved a set point in the next to make it 5-5.

From a set point down, the Kazakh forced a tie-breaker in which he raced to a 5-1 lead as Anderson struggled to contain his unforced errors.  

Anderson found a service return winner in the seventh to earn his first break chance but Kukushkin saved that with a deep serve and blasted an easy winner on return.

The South African had another chance when the Kazakh hit a forehand long but squandered the chance with a similar shot. Eventually Anderson got the break when Kukushkin netted a backhand. Kukushkin kept pushing himself but was broken in third game and was unable to convert two chances in the fourth to fall behind 1-4 in the decider. From there, it was easy for the world number 14 to close the match in his favour.

Cilic will now take on Frenchman Gilles Simon, who beat Spanish qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

Meanwhile in the men's doubles, Herbert and Simon defeated the defending champions Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-3, 7-5. However, the Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri and Divij Sharan progressed after beating Robert Lindstedt and Franko Skugor 7-5, 2-6, 10-6.

Results: Singles, quarterfinals: 1-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 8-Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) 6-3, 6-2; Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Ricardo Ojeda Lara (Esp) 6-2, 6-3; 4-Benoit Paire (Fra) bt 5-Robin Haase (Ned) 7-5, 2-6, 6-3; 2-Kevin Anderson (Rsa) bt 7-Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2

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