One of My ‘Best Wins’

DUBAI — Marin Cilic has already built quite a reputation. The aggressive shot-maker is the tormentor on the ATP Tour. But little did the giant Croatian know that on Thursday an Austrian journeyman would stage what was indeed the comeback of the championships.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 1:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:55 AM

Cilic, the world number 9 and Austrian Open semifinalist, was in sensational form against the Austrian world number 31 as he quickly took a 4-1 lead in the first quarter-final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

But the 28-year-old Jurgen Melzer stunned Cilic with some remarkable tennis and forced a tiebreak against all odds. It gave him the confidence he needed and he soon caused the first upset of the day with a stunning victory.

One more seeded player had been left with a broken heart.

“I think I was a little lucky to hold serve at 4-1. He played really fantastic, I think, from when he just started the match,” the modest Austrian said about the quality of a player he just defeated in straight sets (7-6 7-5).

“It was hard hitting tennis. I could not find my length in the game. I was playing too short, and no spin, no height in my shots.

“But after that I mixed it up a little bit. I started playing a little serve-and-volley. I served better, and I took the chance to get back into the game, and I think then it was a real match.”

Melzer, who likes playing the backhand drop shot, had to change his tactics to get back into a match Cilic was threatening to run away with.

“Yeah, well, if you play a guy like Marin, if he starts to hit the ball clean on the racquet, you’ve got to do something or you’ll go down like 1 and 2. He’s not going to start to miss, so...

“I was lucky, as I said, to break back. Because then it’s not so easy to go for every shot. I changed the spin a little bit. I gave him different looks on the return. Like staying back, coming in. Well, just from my side do, I mean, if you consider those conditions, it was a very good match.”

Melzer, who is big fan of the Bayern Munich Football Club, said his good performances in recent tournaments also helped him reach the semis at the Dubai championships.

“Reaching the semis in Zagreb helped. But I think Vienna helped more (he beat Cilic in the final there). I knew that I could beat him in a really important match, so it helped more than Zagreb.

“In Zagreb, it was actually disappointing because I had a lot of chances in the first set. I was a break up in the tiebreak, and lost a set and he won the tournament. So it was a missed opportunity. And I said to myself today, if I get the chance I’m not going to let it go, and I did it.”

He did it and how. Later, Melzer didn’t shy away from admitting that Thursday was indeed one of best wins of his career.

“Well, I have never reached semis in the 500s before. It’s only started one-and-a-half years ago. So it’s very important to beat the good guys if you want to raise your game and raise your ranking. And I did this week, and hopefully there is still more to go.”

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