Cilic saves match point vs. Djokovic to win Queen’s Club final

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LONDON (AP) Marin Cilic has gone from Queen’s Club runner-up 12 months ago to being the 2018 champion. Now he wants to do the same at Wimbledon.

The top-seeded Croat saved match point on his way to defeating Novak Djokovic 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the final on Sunday to claim his second title at the west London tournament.

Cilic was on the losing end of a similar result in last year’s final, as he spurned a match point in a loss to Feliciano Lopez, before greater disappointment followed as he lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.

Cilic said he was “feeling really confident about Wimbledon,” which starts July 2. “Hopefully,” said Cilic of a potential double grass-court triumph. “You know, if those things go like that every single time, that would be great.”

Although it was Djokovic’s first final in just short of a year, Cilic faced a formidable challenge as the Serb produced the kind of tennis that helped him amass 12 Grand Slam titles.

Having saved six break points, Djokovic struck with the first chance of his own to clinch a draining 67-minute first set, before a reversal of fortunes in the second.

The three-time Wimbledon champion wasted an early opportunity to break before Cilic saved a match point at 4-5 and then won six points from 4-1 down in the tiebreaker to level the match.

Despite soaring temperatures, neither player backed off in a tense deciding set, with Cilic finally earning the first break point opportunities in the eighth game.

Djokovic saved the first but Cilic quickly earned a second with the shot of the match, a dipping forehand passing shot up the line, and Djokovic then wilted with a tame backhand into the net.

Cilic’s 2012 Queen’s Club triumph came in bizarre circumstances as David Nalbandian was disqualified for injuring a line judge, but this time he finished in style, producing a nerveless service game to seal victory in just under three hours.

“I felt that when I’m going to raise my level of the serving, I’m going to be the one who can even take control of the match,” Cilic said.

Despite a rare grass-court defeat to Borna Coric in the final at Halle, Germany, earlier on Sunday, Cilic isn’t counting on any let up from Federer.

“I think Roger’s motivational level is just slightly better and higher on Grand Slams,” said Cilic, “and you can see that throughout so many years that he’s been showing the best tennis at Grand Slam levels.”

 

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.