MOSCOW (AFP) – US Open champion Marin Cilic cruised comfortably into the Kremlin Cup semi-finals with a confident straight-sets victory over sixth-seed Tommy Robredo of Spain on Friday.
The 26-year-old Croat, a career-high eighth in the ATP rankings, fired 10 aces to beat Robredo 6-3, 6-3 to keep alive his chances of making it into the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Second-seed Cilic, sixth in the race to London needs to reach the final at this combined ATP and WTA event to increase his tally, and broke Robredo’s serve for a one-set lead in 31 minutes.
The opponents traded breaks early in the second set before big server Cilic moved up a gear to produce two more breaks to win the set and the match in one hour 16 minutes.
“My match today was a little higher that my first one here,” Cilic said.
“Robredo is very dangerous from the back. He’s a very difficult player to oppose and today I had to play much longer than I expected.”
In the match for a place in his fifth final of the season Cilic will face last year’s runner-up Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, who continued his heroics on the hard courts of Moscow’s Olympic venue by beating the 2009 champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-0.
In the other semi-final Latvia’s third seed Ernesto Gulbis, who edged eighth seed Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), will take on Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut, seeded fifth here, winner of a match with Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis 7-5, 6-3.
In the WTA section of the event the fourth seed Czech Lucie Safarova advanced into the last four with a straight-sets win 6-4, 7-5 over fifth seeded local crowd’s favourite Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“When we were walking on court I remembered that she beat me in Fed Cup here,” this year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Safarova said. “There was a huge will for me to change that memory and I think we played a really good match.”
In Saturday’s second semi-final Safarova will meet Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, who battled back from a set down to oust Bulgaria’s Tsvenana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.