Fixture: Marin Cilic vs Steve Johnson
Date: 19 October 2020
Tournament: Bett1Hulks Championship 2020
Round: First round
Venue: Cologne, Germany
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: €325,610
Match timing: Approx. 8 pm CEST, 11.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Marin Cilic vs Steve Johnson preview
World No. 40 Marin Cilic takes on America's Steve Johnson in the first round of the Bett1Hulks Championship in Cologne on Monday.
Cilic's form in 2020 has been a far cry from the results he produced a few years ago. The Croat is yet to win four matches at any tournament this season, and has struggled with inconsistency on all surfaces.
After a below-par run on American hardcourts and European clay, Cilic arrived in Cologne last week looking to use his big serve and groundstrokes to do some damage on the indoor hardcourts. But he couldn't sustain his level against the unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the quarterfinals, losing the match despite taking a one-set lead.
The former US Open champion will be looking to do better in Cologne at the second time of asking, given the risk he runs of falling out of the top 50 of the world rankings.
World No. 68 Steve Johnson on his part will also be hungry to perform well in Cologne following a very ordinary 2020 season. The first round win he registered over fifth seed Filip Krajinovic last week would have given him some confidence to do just that.
Marin Cilic vs Steve Johnson head-to-head
The meeting in Cologne is the sixth between the two players, and Marin Cilic currently leads the head-to-head 5-0 over Steve Johnson.
The pair last met at Roland Garros in 2018, where Cilic won 6-3 6-2 6-4. The Croat has lost just one set to Johnson in their five matches, which suggests that his game matches up well to the American's.
Marin Cilic vs Steve Johnson prediction
Given their head-to-head record, Marin Cilic comes into this match as the clear favorite. But there are certain frailties in Cilic's game right now which Steve Johnson would look to exploit.
The Croat has a big serve and flat groundstrokes that are particularly effective indoors, but he is susceptible to mid-match mental collapses. Johnson has a pretty good serve himself, so any lapses from Cilic on Monday could prove to be costly.
The American would also look to move Cilic up and down the court with his slice; the Croat needs to be ready for a lot of variations from the other side of the net on Monday. That said, if Cilic is on his game, he should have enough firepower to see off the threat posed by Johnson.
Prediction: Marin Cilic to win in three sets.Published 19 Oct 2020, 02:11 IST