Cilic continues run in US Open to set up Tsonga clash

Jim Slater 07:55 07/09/2015
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Playing through the pain: Defending champion Marin Cilic.

Defending champion Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will meet in the quarter-finals after both came through their last 16 matches.

Cilic made the last-eight for the fourth time with a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 win over France’s Jeremy Chardy.

Cilic, the Croatian ninth seed, took his record in New York to 11 successive wins after capturing his maiden grand slam in the city last year. But he had to overcome an injury scare in the second set to stay alive in the tournament when he rolled his right ankle.

“I twisted my ankle in the second set but I tried not to let it affect my movement,” he said. “In the first few games of the third set, I was conscious of it but after that I didn’t have trouble with it.

"I played really good in the fourth set. I didn’t lose too much energy. I’m going to try to keep my streak going for a couple more matches.”
Cilic fired 23 aces and 52 winners in his win over Chardy, one of four Frenchmen to make the last-16.

Four of those aces came in the third set tiebreak.

“I took the joker from Goran in the tiebreak,” he said, explaining his inspiration from coach and big-hitting former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.

Meanwhile, French 19th seed Tsonga reached his second quarter-final in New York with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win over unseeded compatriot Benoit Paire, the man who opened up their section of the draw by knocking out fourth seed Kei Nishikori in the first round.

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The 30-year-old Tsonga, who made the semi-finals at the French Open in June, did not face a single break point against Paire.

He has now held all 56 service games at the tournament.

Cilic holds a 4-1 career lead over Tsonga in main tour matches, winning the pair’s last three without dropping a set. Tsonga’s only win was in the 2011 Cincinnati Masters.

“I have the feeling that I am playing my best tennis and I hope this will continue,” said Tsonga, who made the quarter-finals four years ago. “It’s been a great week. I hope for the same again in the next few days.”

Tsonga was troubled with a forearm injury at the start of the year which saw withdraw from the Australian Open. 

After recovering to make the last four at Roland Garros his form has tailed off again. A third-round exit at Wimbledon was followed by a double defeat in the Davis Cup as France lost to Great Britain and he only made the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup. 

Consequently his world ranking fell from 12 to 24 and the Frenchman admits the injury has plagued him throughout much of this season and it is only now he feels comfortable on court. 

“I had a problem at the end of last year, the beginning of this year,” Tsonga said after the match, referring to the injury. “But I’m coming back at a great level.

“Now I will play against Marin. He’s a good player. He beat me a few times in the past in big matches.

“For me, it’s going to be important to prepare for this match as well as possible and try to find a way to go through.”

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