A knee issue prevented Croatian tennis star Marin Cilic from performing at his best level against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Bautista Agut, seeded at No. 22, edged out 2018 runner-up Cilic 6-7 (6) 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 to reach the Australian Open quarter-final.
After the match, Cilic said that each match he was dealing with "some diffculties and stiffness in my knee." The Croatian previously beat Bernard Tomic, Mackenzie McDonald and Fernando Verdasco on his way to setting up a round-of-16 clash against Bautista Agut.
Cilic also claimed that his knee issue worsened against Bautista Agut. However, Cilic didn't want to take any credit off Bautista Agut. "But I just didn't feel good on the court. Mentally it was difficult to focus because I didn't know how much I can push off or even just to run, or even on the serve I couldn't go for it full on.
It was just a mental battle," Cilic said post-match. "But then sort of after the third set I tried to block that out and play as good as I can. I felt that I was hitting the ball really good and feeling the ball well...But just physically it was a little bit of a difficulty to match him up because he was playing a great tennis and definitely big credit to him.
"He is playing really good. I don't want to take the credit off because he definitely deserved the victory. It was a fair battle. At the end I had a few chances...at the beginning of the fifth (set) and then after it he played really well and definitely he is in a good form and that's the end of the story."
Cilic now may take a couple of weeks off to take care of his knee issue -- which forced him to pull out of Pune in the opening week of the season. Cilic also have his thoughts on the new Australian Open fifth-set tie-break rule.
The Croatian said he would have preferred to have a normal tie-break instead of a 10-point tie-break. Also read: Kei Nishikori reflects on Australian Open win over Joao Sousa