Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic has lost in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters to Croat 9th seed Marin Cilic, with Cilic winning in straight sets – 6-4, 7-6 to progress to the semi-finals in Paris.
Djokovic managed only 3 aces to Cilic’s nine, and netted a couple of crucial shots. With Cilic taking an early break in the second, Djokovic fought back valiantly as he appeared to pull back the match from his rival, but it was Cilic who again broke at a crucial juncture to be able to wrest control back with a first set victory.
The agile, big-serving Cilic was in full athletic form today as he ran across court and played some attacking tennis against a flagging Djokovic. The Serb, whose World No. 1 title is now in even further risk; if No. 2 Andy Murray reaches the finals here, the Scot will become the 26th World No. 1 ranked men’s singles player.
Cilic, who is fresh off a title win at the ATP500 Swiss Indoors Basel, has been on good form today, ousting Belgium’s David Goffin earlier in the tournament; his victory over Goffin meant that Cilic sealed his participation at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
World No. 1 Djokovic, who is traditionally strong towards the end of the tennis season and was defending 1000 points at Paris-Bercy, has struggled significantly with form; the Serb recently brought on Spanish ‘love guru’ Pepe Imaz onto his team, with the former pro allegedly having ‘cured Novak’s older brother Marko of depression.’
Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych in his own hard-played quarterfinal last night, and will face Milos Raonic in the semi-finals; Raonic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.
Cilic will face American John Isner, who took a laboured 3 set win over compatriot Jack Sock.
The loss today puts Murray only two victories away from the top spot on the ATP rankings. Earning that ranking would make Murray the first British No. 1 since Fred Perry, prior to the Open Era.
In today’s quarter-final, Djokovic, trailing 5-7 and with Cilic leading 40-0, saved two match points to keep his own hopes alive in the match, but could not prove a match for Cilic, who played more relentlessly attacking tennis today.
Murray could set records
Murray, should he beat Berdych – and Raonic or Tsonga en route to the title, would break paths with a title win here. Not only would the Scot be the first Briton since Fred Perry to hold that ranking, he would also be one of the oldest first-time World No.1s on the ATP World Tour.