ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: Wawrinka knocks out Cilic to keep his chances for the semi-final alive



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ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: Wawrinka knocks out Cilic to keep his chances for the semi-final alive

In a course of just two days, Stan Wawrinka produced two completely different matches at the World Tour Finals in London! In his first match against Kei Nishikori, Stan seemed like there's some junior on the court, having a bad day in the office, as he made 30 unforced errors in just over 60 minutes, making a lot of people wondering will he even complete the round robin stage.

Instead of that, he is now a contender for the spot in the semi-final, beating Marin Cilic 7-6 7-6 in an hour and 58 minutes tonight, finally acting like a true Grand Slam champion. Wawrinka fired 7 aces and saved 4 out of 5 break points to reach the tie break in both sets, which he won by a 7-3.

It was a solid match overall but Stan wanted the victory more and it was very clear what it means to him after such a poor performance in the opening match. His rival in the final round robin match will be Andy Murray, and if both players step on the court with their best tennis, we will see a true classic in that one.

Marin Cilic is eliminated, losing both matches in straight sets, and he will be disappointed with this outcome, reaching the World Tour Finals in a fine form after the title in Basel and win over Novak Djokovic in Paris. Interestingly, this was their 13th meeting and Stan now leads 11-2, suffering a defeat to Marin for the last time at Australian Open way back in 2010. That obviously helped him to prevail in the closing stages today as well, staying calm in the most important moments, on break points and in both tie breaks.

Cilic couldn't interrupt Stan's rhythm and make a bigger pressure on rival's groundstrokes, but Croat stayed in touch all the time, despite the fact he served at only 45%. Marin had problems to handle his second serve, although he had to play against only 2 break points, and when we know that he had a better winners-unforced errors ratio he probably deserved at least a set (21-3 for Stan, 22-28 for Marin).

In addition to his 7 aces, Wawrinka had many more service winners and those shortest points made the biggest difference in the match, as he had a 52-35 edge in the rallies that stayed on maximum 4 shots. Marin was a little bit stronger in the mid-range rallies (23-19) and they were almost even in the points that went beyond 9th shot (14-13 for Stan).

The match kicked off with two easy holds from both players, as they found the range of their shots instantly, continuing in that swing throughout the set. Unlike that match with Nishikori, when he struggled to send a few shots over the net, Wawrinka was now hitting at a much better pace, using his good serve&groundstrokes combo to race through the opening 4 service games.

Marin served at only 37% (it was under 30% in the middle of the set) but that wasn't displayed on the court, as he played just as good as Stan in his service games. Cilic even had a set point on return in game 10, but Stan got out from the jail with 3 booming serves, that he accompanied with a huge roar, knowing how important it was to hold there.

Marin entered a tie break with 2 service games at love but he failed to deliver the same kind of tennis in the tie break, losing it 7-3 after 2 mini-breaks from Wawrinka. The first came in the 4th point when Marin sent the forehand long, and the second in the 8th point following another error from Cilic.

Stan sealed the set with a solid smash at the net, moving in front after what has been a very close set, getting a chance to play a little bit more relaxed in the second. Set number 2 produced a similar outcome, but this time with more chances for the returners, as the had 6 break points in total.

Stan lost only 9 points on serve but had to play against 4 break points, saving 3 of them to keep the pressure on Marin, who also got broken once. Cilic drew first blood, breaking in the opening game of the set when Stan hit the backhand long, but he stayed in the lead only until game 4, when Stan broke back to level the score at 2-2.

Those were the breaking moments of the set, as Stan faced another two break points in game 5, just to see two forehands from Cilic going long, and from that moment on he was untouchable in his games, taking 21 out of the final 22 points when he served! Cilic also served well to reach the tie break with no troubles, but 2 mini-breaks cost him the match, just like in the first set.

Stan made the first move on return in the 6th point, and Wawrinka wrapped up the match with another one in the 10th point, bringing home very important win that keeps him in contention in London. ALSO READ: ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: Murray tops Nishikori in an outstanding baseline battle