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Rediff.com  » Sports » Cilic to meet Wawrinka in Chennai final

Cilic to meet Wawrinka in Chennai final

Last updated on: January 09, 2010 21:48 IST

Marin CilicDefending champion Marin Cilic thrashed Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday to move into the final of the Chennai Open.

Cilic, whose title win here last year kick-started a run which helped him score a second title win (Zagreb) and reach two further finals (Beijing and Vienna), continued his good run in Chennai and was dominant on his opponent's serve -- breaking the Serbian six times in nine service games. 

And that factor, in itself, is an explanation for the lopsided result.

"Today, I think I played my best match of the tournament," admitted the Croat in the post-match conference.

"I didn't give him many free points and didn't miss much myself," he added.

The second seed from Croatia will play the third seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the decider as he bids to become only the second player to defend this title after Carlos Moya (2004, 2005).

The Swiss edged out Israel's Dudi Sela, the sixth seed, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in a hard fought second semi-final that went on for more than two and a half hours.

Cilic and Wawrinka have hitherto met four times on the tour -- the last being the second round of the French Open in 2008 -- with the former managing to take just a set off the Swiss in those four matches.

However, the 21-year-old from Croatia didn't seem too much perturbed with his so far disappointing record against the 24-year-old Wawrinka.

"I'm not sure about when we played last time (2008 French Open) and this year-and-a-half have been big enough for me in terms of results," reasoned Cilic.

"He is definitely a tough player to play, and the conditions here also suit him more, but I am also playing well and like my chances," he added.

In a re-match of last year's quarter-final Cilic dominated Tipsarevic from start to finish ensuring the result is the same on this occasion as well.

The duo has now met on four occasions, following their first face-off here last year, and the all the four matches have resulted in wins for the 21-year-old Croat -- their matches at the Australian Open and Dubai last year also going Cilic's way.

It is not difficult to see why.

The Serbian, while playing the Croat, tries to beat him in his own game. And that's something that definitely doesn't work -- at least, not so far.

Cilic seems just too strong for Tipsarevic from the baseline and latter has helped the former's cause on more occasion than one by feeding continuosly to his forehand -- the Croat's most powerful weapon.

Coming to the match per se, Tipsarevic began the match by breaking Cilic's serve in the first game but the defending champion hit back in the next game itself.

It was all Cilic thereafter with the second seed winning the next eight games to go up 6-1, 2-0, before the Serb finally held serve.

In fact, Tipsarevic's service had been a weak link throughout the tournament, and the fourth seed had struggled with it in all his prior matches.

The Serbian was fortunate to have played opponents who couldn't take full advantage of this weakness. However, against Cilic, Tipsarevic's problems with his serve lay exposed.

The 25-year-old didn't manage to win a single service game (in four attempts) in the opening set, dropped serve in the opening game of the second (after leading 40-15) and then lost it again in the ninth game of the second set -- squandering a 40-15 lead again -- to seal the issue in the Croat's favour.

Cilic did to Tipsarevic what the latter had done to last year's finalist Somdev Devvarman a few days earlier -- exposed the frailties in his game.

The Serb, in the last three months, has made a final (Moscow) and a couple of semis (Vienna and here). But if he is to win that elusive maiden title, the 25-year-old has to ensure the presence of that one crucial element in his game -- consistency.

Bikash Mohapatra in Chennai