Cilic Saves Match Points To Reach Open Last

Croatia’s Marin Cilic celebrates after victory over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco during their men’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne early January 19, 2019. Greg Wood / AFP

Last year’s finalist Marin Cilic survived a huge scare in the Australian Open third round Friday, surviving two match points before beating Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.

The big-serving Croatian sixth seed was in danger of departing when he lost the first two sets against the 35-year-old Spaniard.

He ripped back 6-1 in the third and saved a first match point on his own serve during an edge-of-the-seat fourth set tiebreaker as the clock struck midnight.

Verdasco earned a second match point on his own delivery and then double-faulted to leave him tearing his hair out.

Cilic took it to a fifth and the still shellshocked 26th seed Verdasco dropped his serve straight away.

Cilic dug deep one last time at 4-2, 0-40, saving three break points and eventually secured the marathon come-from-behind victory in 4hr 18min just before 1:00 am.

“It was a tough match. The emotions were up and down,” said Cilic, who is into the fourth round at Melbourne for the sixth time.

“At two sets down it was a big hill to climb.”

Cilic lost a five-set thriller in last year’s final to Roger Federer and will face another Spaniard, 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the last 16.

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