In Beijing, the finals of the China Open, an ATP 500 tourney, featured Serb Novak Djokovic, the second seed, against Croat Marin Cilic, a wildcard seeded eight. Djokovic prevailed 6-2, 7-6 for his third title of the year in his ninth attempt. Moreover, with Andy Murray missing in action this week, Djokovic regained the number three spot.
Yesterday in the semifinals, Cilic took apart top seed Rafael Nadal. Meeting Djokovic for the fourth time, the talented Croat looked prepared to grasp his first win vis-à-vis the Serb. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Cilic had his first break point chance. However, with a forehand winner down the line, Djokovic managed to erase it. Cilic got two more chances, yet, was denied every time by Djokovic. After Cilic held comfortably, Djokovic reciprocated with an easy game. But serving at 2 all, great offense by Cilic after a second serve offering by Djokovic set up double break point. Novak was saved by Marin’s forehand brushing the top of the net to go out and botching another forehand after reaching a mediocre dropshot. Now at deuce, rain caused a lengthy pause in the action. When play resumed, Djokovic gave Cilic another break opportunity with a backhand error. However, a return backhand error and lucky lob allowed Djokovic to preserve the game. Unable to capitalize on multiple break chances, Cilic made three consecutive errors to donate triple break point. Although Cilic wiped those out, Novak brought Marin in with a dropshot in a long rally then lobbed a winner for break point. When Cilic erred with a forehand up the line, Djokovic had a 4-2 lead. After readily consolidating, Djokovic produced a forehand up the line winner for break point and secured the set when another of Cilic’s forehand went long by clipping the net.
Unfazed by the disappointment of the prior set, with aggressive strokes, Cilic pressured Djokovic into backhand errors to arrive at double break point. With a strong forehand up the line, the Croat elicited another backhand miscue from the Serb to gain a break edge. Despite Djokovic attacking, Cilic managed to get ahead 2-0. On Djokovic’s next service game, Cilic missed a makable overhead depriving himself of a two break cushion. Then, serving at 3-2, after leading 30-0, Cilic’s first serve deserted him. So, due to a forehand error, Djokovic had break point. As another long rally went in Djokovic’s favor, the set became leveled at 3 all. Yet, at 4 a piece, Cilic baited Djokovic into mistakes to break and grabbed a 5-4 edge. However, serving for the set, Cilic faltered. Neither the Croat’s forehand nor the backhand could find the court, the players became locked at 5 all. Still, Cilic quickly rebounded. After Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net giving him break point, Cilic pounced on a second serve for a forehand winner and a 6-5 edge. Still, that was not enough, Cilic double faulted to send the set to a tiebreaker. As a result of Cilic slipping, Djokovic converted an easy volley for a 4-2 minibreak. Subsequently, Cilic misfired on a backhand crosscourt helping Djokovic to stretch his lead. Shortly thereafter, Djokovic sealed the set and the match with a Cilic forehand error.