Rising Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev expected a tough clash against Marin Cilic as he says it's always tight contest when he and the Croatian clash against each other. Rublev, who is enjoying a career-high ranking of No.
14 in the world, kicked off his Adria Tour campaign in Zadar against Croatian home favorite Cilic. The Russian delivered against Cilic as he beat the 2014 US Open champion in three sets 4-3 (5) 2-4 4-1. Rublev, 22, and 31-year-old Cilic have played against each other three times at the ATP level.
Former world No. 3 Cilic won the first meeting between the two in Geneva five years ago but the Russian won their last two contests. "I mean, every time I play Marin it always ends up being a tough match, it's always so close.
He is up by a break, or I'm up by a break or I break back -- it's always mental matches against Marin. Even when I played him for the first time in Geneva, in 2015. It's has been like that to this day -- even in an exhibition tournament," Rublev told Sport Klub.
Cilic satisfied despite losing to Andrey Rublev
Cilic, now ranked at No. 37 in the world, was playing his first match since he helped Croatia beat India in a Davis Cup tie, in early-March. Rublev had the lone break points of the first set but failed to convert as Cilic saved two consecutive break points in the third game to eventually force a tie-break.
The Croatian won two points in a row to tie the tie-break at 5-5 but then lost the following two points and dropped the tight first set. But Cilic claimed the first break of the match in the fifth game of the second set and then routinely served out the following game to force a decider.
Cilic then started the third set a with break but Rublev stormed back to claim back-to-back breaks and collect a win in three sets. "I think the level was really great in the first two sets. Both of us played really great and we performed on a high level," Cilic told Sport Klub.
Cilic blamed the lack of mental strength for his loss but added: "But definitely I'm satisfied with the start." It remains to be seen how will Marin Cilic performed in the rest of the tournament.