Fixture: (13) Cristian Garin vs Marin Cilic
Date: 27 March 2021
Tournament: Miami Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 64)
Venue: Miami, Florida
Category: ATP 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $3,340,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport
Cristian Garin vs Marin Cilic preview
13th seed Cristian Garin kicks off his 2021 Miami Open campaign against Marin Cilic in the second round on Saturday.
While Garin received a bye in his opening round by virtue of his seeding, Cilic faced Federico Coria in the first round. The Croat faced a stiff challenge but he eventually managed to outlast Coria 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
Cristian Garin is coming off a title win at Santiago, where he played some lights-out claycourt tennis. But the Chilean's hardcourt form is not quite in the same ballpark.
Garin has played just one hardcourt match in 2021, losing in the opening round of the Delray Beach Open to Chris Harrison. To make matters worse, the 24-year-old hasn't won back-to-back matches on the surface since the 2019 Paris Masters.
Marin Cilic is undoubtedly the more accomplished hardcourt campaigner of the two. He is also the only Slam champion left in this year's draw, after the withdrawal of a string of top players.
On Thursday, Cilic rolled back the years against Federico Coria, producing a serving masterclass to come through in the third set. The Croat won all 16 of his first-serve points in the decider, not giving Coria a whiff of an opportunity when the stakes were the highest.
Cristian Garin vs Marin Cilic head-to-head
Marin Cilic leads Cristian Garin 1-0 in the head-to-head. Their only meeting came at the Queen's Club Championships in 2019, with Cilic winning 6-1, 7-6(5).
Cristian Garin vs Marin Cilic prediction
This is a very tricky match to call, given that Marin Cilic and Cristian Garin both have certain factors working in their favor.
Cilic usually thrives on hardcourts, given his ability to serve big and hammer powerful groundstrokes. However, the courts in Miami this year are noticeably slower than usual. Add to that the heat and humidity in the Floridian city at this time of the year, and Garin is suddenly presented with conditions reminiscent of South American claycourt events.
It is also pertinent to note that even though Garin is not the biggest of servers, he racked up 34 aces in four matches at the Santiago Open. And given Cilic's recent struggles against quality serving (Grigor Dimitrov, Alexei Popyrin and Sebastian Korda), Garin could well do some damage in this area.
Cilic isn't as effective from behind the baseline as he once used to be, and now looks to take a few steps inside the court to unleash his big shots. So if Garin can hit deep returns consistently, he can take time away from the Croat and elicit some soft responses.
That said, if Cilic's first serve hits the spots consistently, he might be able to blow Garin off the court.
Prediction: Marin Cilic to win in three sets.