Cilic Halts Verdasco To Setup Raonic Clash

Marin Cilic recorded his 450th victory to deny Fernando Verdasco the 500th match win of his career on Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The second-seeded Croatian worked hard for a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over 2010 runner-up Verdasco in the final match of the day on Court Rainier III, the main show court. He will now compete against No. 14 Milos Raonic of Canada on Thursday. Cilic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1.

Cilic broke Verdasco’s serve for a 3-1 lead, then recovered from 0/40 in the seventh game of the 35-minute first set. Verdasco, who saved three match points against Pablo Cuevas on Tuesday, gained a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Cilic quickly restored parity.

It wasn’t until Cilic served at 3-4, that Verdasco was rewarded for his hard yards when a mis-timed drop shot landed in the net at 30/40 and handed the Spaniard an opportunity to serve for the set. However, Cilic regrouped and played aggressively to break to 30 for 5-5. He served out the tie-break to move within a match of returning to the quarter-finals (2015, 2017).

The World No. 3 is now 8-5 lifetime against Verdasco in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (1-1 on clay, also 2015 Mutua Madrid Open).

Earlier on day four, Raonic struck 16 aces past Marco Cecchinato in his third successive victory over the Italian on clay courts (also 2016 Monte-Carlo and Internazionali BNL d’Italia).

Raonic, who has 298 career victories and is now one win away from reaching the quarter-finals for the fourth successive year, won 7-6(5), 6-2 in 86 minutes.

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