x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cilic forced to go the distance

Marin Cilic becomes the first Croatian male to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open after he fends off Andy Roddick.

Marin Cilic has been taken the distance three times so far at this year's Australian Open.
Marin Cilic has been taken the distance three times so far at this year's Australian Open.

Marin Cilic became the first Croatian male to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open after he fended off an impressive Andy Roddick comeback in five sets. 14th seed Cilic won an epic last-eight battle 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 3-6 2-6 6-3 in a match which lasted just under four hours at the Rod Laver Arena. It was the third time in five matches that Cilic has been taken the distance at Melbourne Park this year. Cilic's victory was finally sealed when Roddick pushed a backhand volley wide to prompt the Croatian to fall to his knees in delighted exhaustion. "It wasn't easy. I've got experience to be here in this situation now," Cilic said. "I just had a few extra gears in the last set. It wasn't easy.

"I was struggling on serve, he was putting pressure on me and I didn't know what to do. "But point-by-point I worked back." The 21-year-old, who is the youngest player left in the draw, will play the winner of the blockbuster encounter between the defending champion Rafael Nadal and the fifth seed Andy Murray. After reaching his first-ever semi-final Cilic believes he still has the energy to reach the final, despite his protracted matches so far. "I can go one more," he said. "Why not?"

Cilic has a good record against both his potential rivals in the last four having beaten Nadal in straight sets their only meeting at Beijing last year. The Croatian also eliminated Murray in their most recent meeting at the US Open in September when he upset the Scot in the fourth round. * PA Sport