Australian Open: Marin Cilic shocks Andrey Rublev in fourth round

In a free-hitting show on Margaret Court Arena, the Croatian blasted forehands and hammered backhands to end Rublev's time in Australia.

Marin Cilic in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/Australian Open)

Marin Cilic stunned World No. 6 Andrey Rublev 7-5, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 to go to the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday. It was Cilic’s first Top 10 win since 2018. In a free-hitting show on Margaret Court Arena, the Croatian blasted forehands and hammered backhands to end Rublev’s time in Australia in emphatic manner, advancing after two hours and 37 minutes.

“It is incredible,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “I enjoyed every single second of the match. Andrey is an incredible player, we have played several times in the past and it is always difficult. I had so much fun and played great tennis.”

The 33-year-old has already gone to the fourth round of the Australian Open eight times, with his best finish being a run to the final in 2018. His last Top 10 win came against then-World No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut at the same level in Melbourne in 2020. Cilic is now 2-4 against the Russian in the ATP Head2Head series and will face Felix Auger-Aliassime, who overcame 24th seed Daniel Evans 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

“In the evening it is a little bit cooler, so you can go for a bit more on your shots and it really went well for me,” Cilic added. “I served great and that is the way to go against the guys at the top. If you are giving them a chance to hit, you will have trouble, so I was trying to be aggressive and it paid off.”

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Along with World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal, the 27th seed is one of three former Grand Slam champions still in the draw. Cilic won his only grand slam title at the 2014 US Open. Cilic dominated Rublev on serve throughout the match, hitting 24 aces and winning 85% (52/61) of his first-serve points. Rublev rebounded from 1-3 in the third set after a strong opening two games in which the 20-time tour-level champion swung freely and scored 34 winners. To fight his way back into contention, the 24-year-old won five games in a row, including the final 12 points of the set.

The Russian, though, was unable to maintain his momentum into the fourth set, with Cilic breaking to take a 3-1 lead. The Croatian made no mistakes this time, charging forward after firing down an ace, relieving all tension in the process.

Rublev was hoping to get to the fourth round for the third time in Melbourne. The fifth seed is the highest seed to fall in Melbourne this year, having defeated Gianluca Mager and Ricardas Berankis earlier this week. In other play, Alex de Minaur of Australia defeated World No. 83 Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the fourth round for the first time in Melbourne.

Sportslumo Desk

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