Cilic delivers bagel then holds off Auger-Aliassime at Paris Masters

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Marin Cilic battles past Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets on Monday evening in Paris. Cilic is through to a meeting with Corentin Moutet.
  • Rolex Paris Masters, first round

  • Cilic Auger-Aliassime 6-0, 3-6, 6-3

  • Key info: Cilic struck 14 aces and saved seven of nine break points.
  • You will also learn: The Croat has never been past the semi-finals in Paris in 11 appearances.
  • Why you should read this story: On paper it was one of the best first-round matchups, and it didn’t disappoint.

Marin Cilic capped off the afternoon session at the Rolex Paris Masters with a three-set victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime on Monday. Cilic struck 14 aces on his way to advancing through this first-round showdown two hours and 27 minutes.

First-set bagel

The 32-year-old came out on fire, refusing to lose even a single game in the opening set. He broke serve right away and just one break would have been enough, because Cilic completely dominated on serve early. In fact, he dropped only four service points in the entire set. Auger-Aliassime, meanwhile, was doomed by winning a mere 25 percent of the points even when he put his first serve in play.

A battle the rest of the way

Recovering nicely from the initial humiliation, Auger-Aliassime started to sink his teeth into the match with a break at 3-2 in the second. Although he gave it right back one game later, the 20-year-old Canadian regained control of set two by breaking again at 4-3 in a game that went to a ridiculous 11 deuces. He proceeded to dig out of a 0-40 hole at 5-3 and held to force a decider.

Just one break proved to be the difference in the third, and it went to Cilic in the sixth game. The world No 43 failed to capitalize on two break chances with his opponent serving to stay alive at 2-5, but he had no trouble serving things out one game later.

Cilic has struggled in 2020 and is trying desperately to end the season on a high note, but it won’t be easy because this is a tournament at which he has never excelled. The 2014 US Open champion is just 15-11 lifetime on the indoor hard courts of Paris and he has never advanced past the quarter-finals in 11 trips.

Next up for him on Tuesday is French wild card Corentin Moutet, who overcame qualifier Salvatore Caruso 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

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