Cilic qualifies for ATP finals with win at Paris Masters
PARIS — Marin Cilic ended a three-match losing streak against David Goffin at the Paris Masters on Thursday to earn a spot at the ATP Finals.
The former US Open champion needs to stop an even worse run if he is to make it to the last four in the French capital.
Cilic converted his sixth match point to beat Goffin 6-3, 7-6 (9) at the indoor tournament, giving him a spot in the quarterfinals and one of the remaining two berths at the season-ending tournament in London this month.
Next on his plate is top-ranked Novak Djokjovic, who rallied past Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Cilic has a terrible 0-14 record against the Serb.
“He likes to play me,” Cilic said. “Or if you want to put it around differently, I don’t like to play him that much.”
A three-time defending champion at the Paris Masters, Djokovic sealed victory on his second match point. Dimitrov served and returned extremely well in the opener but the Bulgarian then appeared to loss his focus and was undone by his many errors.
Djokovic called the trainer at 3-1 in the second set for an apparent pain in his right knee after falling while chasing a shot. He escaped unscathed though and played with more accuracy afterwards.
Cilic is enjoying a strong finish to the season after being hampered by a knee injury in the spring. He won his second title of the year last week in Basel, and after the ATP Finals he is expected to lead Croatia in the Davis Cup final against Argentina.
“I was expecting it,” Cilic said about his qualification for the ATP Finals. “It was the goal of the season for me. Obviously, the top eight is something that all the players in the world are wishing for.”
Goffin won their three previous encounters, all of them this year, but Cilic was better on Thursday on crucial points, often using his big serve to lift himself out of trouble.
The Croat also made up for his many unforced errors with aggressive shot-making in the tiebreak. He raised his arms in triumph and screamed after Goffin framed a forehand to end it.
Goffin served for the second set at 5-3 and crumbled, broken at love.
“In some moments of the match, I could have done a bit better,” said Goffin, who needed to win in Paris to qualify for the ATP Finals. “But he played well and he didn’t give me many opportunities. I gave away many points to him.”
Dominic Thiem will complete the field in London if Tomas Berdych fails to reach the semifinals in Paris and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga does not win the title.
Also, there will be an all-American quarterfinal in Paris after big-hitter Jack Sock and big-server John Isner both progressed.
Sock reached the quarters for the first time by beating Richard Gasquet of France 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 while Isner defeated Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Facing a partisan crowd, Sock took an all-risk approach that paid dividends. Sock, who was the runner-up in Stockholm two weeks ago, lost only two points on serve in the first set. He hit nine aces and an impressive total of 43 winners.
Gasquet saved two match points at 4-5 in the decider, including a beautiful half-volley that drew a smile from Sock, but the American continued to play aggressively, earning another break to seal the match.
“Well, with him, on every point you have to run really fast,” Gasquet said. “He’s hitting hard on every shot. If you try to control the ball and not play too hard, you’re done.”
Fourth-seeded Milos Raonic also advanced after rallying past Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.