Marin Cilic scored his first win over world number one Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 7-6(2) victory in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Masters. Cilic will now play John Isner for a place in the final.
Cilic started well, taking an early break lead, but the world number one fought back to level them. The holds continued until Cilic struck at the perfect moment, playing an excellent return game as Djokovic faltered to take a one set lead. Djokovic looked to be making his comeback in the second as he served for the set, but a horrible service game took them back level. Cilic missed out on two match points as Djokovic was serving to stay in it but stayed focused in the tiebreak to score a famous victory over the defending champion.
First set battle
Cilic survived a tough opening service game, making up for a double fault with a couple of aces as he held on in the first game of the match. Djokovic was in danger straight away as he looked to be cruising through on serve he suddenly found himself stuck at deuce. Some uncharacteristic unforced errors handed Cilic the early break and a 2-0 lead. The lead was under pressure straight away as the Serb earned himself a break back point in the next game and a forehand into the net from Cilic leveled the pair at 2-1.
There were no signs of a struggle on serve this time from Djokovic as he cruised through a hold to love. Cilic held off the pressure as he came through a good hold of his own to stay ahead at 3-2. The defending champion came through another solid hold to stay in touch.
An excellent volley at full stretch got Cilic off to a good start on serve in the next game, but a loose couple of shots while 40-15 up left him in danger at deuce. Djokovic took control in the rally on the next point to earn a break point but a huge serve from the Croatian erased it. Cilic eventually came away with the impressive hold while under pressure to stay ahead.
The world number one sailed through another love hold as they approached the end of the first set. Cilic looked confident as he came through an impressive hold, showing positive body language as he took a 5-4 lead.
An incredible lob from Cilic got him off to a lead on the return as Djokovic was serving to stay in the set. The Serb recovered to take a 30-15 lead but Cilic sent a rocket forehand down the line to level them. A huge return from the Croatian got him on the front foot and he finished off the point to earn himself a set point. A risky forehand miss took the pair back to deuce but another chance came for Cilic as Djokovic netted a forehand. Another error from the Serb gave Cilic the 6-4 set in 45 minutes, the first set the Croatian had won against Djokovic in over two years.
A famous victory
Djokovic applauded Cilic as he made an excellent start on serve, taking the first point with a perfect drop shot on his way to a solid hold. Cilic continued his great play on the return as he took a 0-30 lead. The Croatian used his confident play to turn up the aggression and earn himself a couple of break points. The first was lost as Cilic missed a return and a big return from Djokovic got him to deuce, and a bad drop shot attempt from the Cilic gave Djokovic the crucial hold.
A good hold each for Djokovic and Cilic left them tied at 2-2. The Serb took a lead on return in the next game as his excellent defending impressed. An error from Cilic then left him in a 0-30 hole. A big serve took him to 15-30 but a loose backhand error gave the defending champion two break points. Both were saved with massive serves and Cilic came through the important hold to stay ahead.
The world number one came through a much easier service game as he closed the gap on Cilic, and the Croatian came through an easy hold of his own. Djokovic dealt with some pressure as Cilic battled from 40-0 to 40-30 but held on. A nightmare service game from the Croatian followed as Djokovic found himself with three break points. He only needed the one as the defending champion took the break that allowed him to serve for the set.
Two loose shots in a row from Djokovic left Cilic with an opening to get back on level terms and a double fault gave the Croatian two break back points. A poor game was finished with another double fault and Cilic came back level.
The Croatian dealt with the pressure well as he served for a 6-5 lead. Cilic got fired up at the start of the return game as he hit an excellent passing shot to set himself up with a lead. A big return off the Djokovic second serve took Cilic two points away from the win. Djokovic sent the ball wide to hand Cilic two match points. The first was lost as Djokovic closed down the net and outrageous defense from the Serb took him to deuce. The defending champion came through the intense game to send the pair to a tiebreak.
Cilic handed Djokovic the mini-break straight away with a bad forehand miss. The same loose shot but from Djokovic this time gave the mini-break straight back to Cilic. The world number one netted a backhand to give Cilic a 2-1 lead. Two gutsy big serves from the Croatian took him to 4-1. Cilic missed a return on the first Djokovic service point but he hit a scorching backhand crosscourt on the second to take a 5-2 lead. The world number one missed a return to give Cilic match points, and he stayed solid to take the first with a forehand winner, sealing his first-ever win over Djokovic.