Former World No. 3 Marin Cilic continues his quest for a first title of 2019 when he takes on the powerful Jeremy Chardy in the quarter-finals of the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Friday.
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Fresh of his 500th career win, Marin Cilic targets the VTB Kremlin Cup semi-finals on Friday night against the unseeded Jeremy Chardy.
It’s been a poor season by Cilic’s standards, but the Croatian notched up a big personal milestone in his Moscow opener against Ivo Karlovic, defeating his towering countryman 6-1 7-6(5) to become just the 50th player in the Open Era to win 500 tour-level matches – and only the 10th active player to achieve the feat. Cilic didn’t face a break point as he sprinted through the opener, but was forced to dig much deeper in the second, saving three break points a 3-4 before edging the tiebreak for a straight sets triumph.
One of only a handful of players to have won titles at 250, 500, Masters 1000, Grand Slam and Davis Cup level, Cilic was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world in April last year after reaching the finals of Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018, but he’s struggled significantly in 2019, coming into Moscow with an underwhelming 19-16 record for the season. The Croatian hasn’t defeated a top 10 player all year and actually hasn’t made a semi-final either, with his best results including quarter-finals in Madrid and Washington and fourth round finishes at the Australian and U.S. Opens.
As a result, Cilic – who won back-to-back Moscow titles in 2014-15 and hasn’t lost at the tournament since his debut appearance in 2007 – has dropped to No. 25 in the world and was down to No. 30 a couple of weeks ago, which was his lowest ranking since 2014. With 425 points to defend for the rest of the season after he qualified for the ATP Finals in London last year, Cilic could really use a confidence-boosting run over the next couple of days in Moscow. Can he reach his first semi-final of the season on Friday?
Jeremy Chardy is the man who stands in his way in the last eight. The Frenchman is playing the Kremlin Cup for the first time since he advanced to the semi-finals from qualifying back in 2011, making the quarter-finals without dropping a set this week with comfortable victories over Nicolas Jarry (6-4 6-2) and eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic (6-3 6-4).
Equipped with one of the biggest forehands in tennis, Chardy is a former Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2013 (beat Juan Martin del Potro before losing to Andy Murray) and four-time ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist with a career-high ranking of No. 25 (achieved after making that aforementioned quarter-final in Melbourne), while he also has 11 top 10 scalps to his name, including Roger Federer in Rome in 2014 and Murray in Cincinnati in 2012. Chardy put together a solid 2018 season as he finished runner-up in s-Hertogenbosch, reached the semi-finals at Queen’s Club, made fourth rounds at Indian Wells and Miami and won the Surbiton Challenger to end the year at No. 40, but he’s dropped to No. 66 in the world with a 24-25 record in 2019, with the Frenchman’s best result coming in his first tournament of the season when he made the semi-finals in Brisbane.
Cilic leads their head-to-head 3-2, but Chardy won their last hardcourt clash in Miami two years ago. The Croatian has a superb record in Moscow, but he’s been having a terrible season, while Chardy has already won two straight sets matches this week and has troubled Cilic in both of their hardcourt meetings. This is a match Cilic should be winning, be he’s lost a bunch of matches he shouldn’t of in 2019. It’s a solid chance for Chardy to make his second semi-final of 2019.