Marin Cilic has broken his bad run of first round defeats at the Singapore Tennis Open which is being played for the first time since 1999 on a one year’s only licence, by beating Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-5 6-4 to progress to the quarter-finals of the 250 ATP event.
But I'm happy with the win and it gives me good confidence. Overall, it was a solid match and something I needed for the start of the tournament Marin Cilic
It will no doubt come as a great relief to the Croat after losing in the opening round of his last three events in what were not the most ideal conditions during the 90-minute contest.
On arrival Cilic had to get accustomed to the uneven lighting on the OCBC Arena court which meant he lost sight of the ball around the baseline.
The 2014 US Open champion saved three of four break points to secure his first win since last November’s second round of the Paris Masters.
“I had quite a good pre-season but when you play a match, things are a bit different in terms of decision-making and adjusting to some situations, like today, I had difficulty seeing the ball properly in the beginning.
“So adjusting to that, adjusting to the opponent and just playing your own game, it’s not easy to put everything together without many matches. That’s something that I was lacking in these last six months.
“But I’m happy with the win and it gives me good confidence. Overall, it was a solid match and something I needed for the start of the tournament.”
The former world No. 3, whose last title was the 2018 Queen’s Club Championships, added: “I feel I can play really well, especially in practice. I’m feeling quite good. For me, today was important to compete well.
“It’s important you go on court and accept that some mistakes are going to be made and you might miss some balls that you usually don’t.”
Pointing to the first set, when he broke Daniel’s serve to go 2-1 up only for Daniel to break back and level the set at 4-4, Cilic noted: “You just have to accept it and say OK fine, you’re even in the score, let’s keep going.
“It’s difficult to ask from yourself a lot in this kind of situation, so I did that well and that was with the right mindset and right preparation.”
His next opponent will be either Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama or South Korean eighth seed Kwon Soon-woo, who came from behind to win 4-6 6-3 6-4 against American qualifier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski on Wednesday.
Other seeded players who booked their spot in the last eight of the US$300,000 tournament include Kazakh fourth seed Alexander Bublik and Japanese fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka, who both won in straight sets.
Bublik needed just 53-minutes while serving 10 aces to convincingly beat Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek 6-2 6-2, while Nishioka downed Maxime Cressy of the US 6-4 6-2.
Also through is the 21-year-old Alexei Popyrin who will compete in the first ATP quarter-final since Atlanta 2019 following a 6-1, 5-7 6-3 triumph over Adrian Andreev in 111-minutes.