Top seed Cilic battles into Moscow quarter-finals

Kremlin Cup top seed and defending champion Marin Cilic battled through to the quarter-finals with a hard-fought three sets success over Uzbek Denis Istomin in Moscow on Thursday. The 27-year-old Croat, seeking his first win of the season and career 14th title in Moscow, prevailed 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3 in two hours to record his sixth win over Istomin in seven meetings.

In the deciding set Cilic, 14th in the ATP rankings, moved up a gear to race to a 4-0 advantage which let him to book a place in the quarter-finals.   -  Getty Images

Kremlin Cup top seed and defending champion Marin Cilic battled through to the quarter-finals with a hard-fought three sets success over Uzbek Denis Istomin in Moscow on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Croat, seeking his first win of the season and career 14th title in Moscow, prevailed 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3 in two hours to record his sixth win over Istomin in seven meetings.

After taking the opening set in a tiebreak in 56 minutes Cilic lost his grip in the second allowing the 29-year-old Istomin to break twice to level at one set all after one hour 30 minutes on court.

But in the deciding set Cilic, 14th in the ATP rankings, moved up a gear to race to a 4-0 advantage which let him to book a place in the quarter-finals.

“In the last few matches with Denis (Istomin) I always experienced problems as his style of play doesn’t suit me,” Cilic said.

“Today it was another very tough match as in the first two sets I didn’t have any break points.

“In the third set I felt that his game dipped a little and that was enough for me to make the deciding advantage.

“I feel that I’m not too far from my top form and I hope in the near future I will be able to play much, much better.”

In the WTA section fifth seed Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, the last seeded player in the field, crashed out 6-1, 6-2 to Russian qualifier Daria Kasatkina.

“Today I had a really bad day,” Suarez Navarro said.

“I tried to play my normal tennis, to be focused on my game, but she (Kasatkina) played tactically good and I just couldn’t be aggressive.”

With Suarez Navarro’s defeat the Czech Lucie Safarova secured the eighth and final spot in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.

Safarova, this season’s Roland Garros runner-up, joined Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Flavia Pennetta and Angelique Kerber in the October 23-November 1 tournament.

“I am really excited to qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time,” Safarova said.

“It has been a dream year and to be one of the eight qualifiers in singles and also compete in the doubles is something that makes me very proud.”

In the all-Russian semi-final Kasatkina will face defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who saw off compatriot Margarita Gasparyan 6-1, 6-3.