Marin Cilic began his quest for a ninth indoor ATP Tour title on Wednesday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Taro Daniel at the Singapore Tennis Open.
The former World No. 3 claimed 82 per cent of his first-serve points (27/33) and saved three of the four break points he faced to overcome the Japanese in one hour and 40 minutes. Cilic is aiming to capture his 19th tour-level crown this week and move one title away from the exclusive ’20 Club’. Roger Federer (103), Rafael Nadal (86), Novak Djokovic (82), Andy Murray (46) and Juan Martin del Potro (22) are the only active players to win 20 or more tour-level events.
“It is the beginning of the season and my third match of the year, so I am still feeling a little bit rusty… Overall, it was a solid match,” said Cilic. “[It is] something I definitely needed for the start of the tournament.”
Cilic will face eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea in the quarter-finals. The 23-year-old improved to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback win.
Fourth seed Alexander Bublik needed just 53 minutes to book his place in the quarter-finals. The Kazakhstani landed 10 aces en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek.
Bublik will meet fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka for a spot in the semi-finals. Nishioka won 62 per cent of second-serve return points (18/29) to move past Maxime Cressy 6-4, 6-2.
Roberto Marcora and Matthew Ebden sealed their places in the second round on Wednesday. Marcora defeated Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-4 to book a clash with top seed Adrian Mannarino, while Ebden beat Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-6(3) to confirm a meeting with second seed John Millman.
In the final match of the day, Alexei Popyrin overcame #NextGenATP Bulgarian Adrian Andreev 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 to reach his second ATP Tour quarter-final. The Aussie will meet the winner of Millman and Ebden’s second-round encounter in the quarter-finals.