Marin Cilic is still trying to secure a spot at the ATP year-end championships with one week of regular-season play left, and he took a giant step towards his goal on Sunday by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 7-6(5) in the final of the Swiss Indoors Basel.
It was the second title of the year for the Croat and the 16th of his career. He improved to 2-2 in finals this year and 16-11 for his career.
Serving into the body proved effective for Cilic against Nishikori in the first set, holding and breaking serve to race to a 6-1 win. In the second set both players saved key break points. Cilic kept three from fleeing while serving at 4-5. Nishikori in the tiebreak double faulted at 5-6 to hand the Croat the match.
“Being in the final of a 500 tournament against someone like Kei, who has been playing good tennis during the week, I knew it was going to be important to have energy straight away,” Cilic said. “I was playing well in the first set, with my shotmaking and I was serving smart.
“I felt that even during most of the second set I was playing well and creating opportunities for myself. In those situations you can expect a player like Kei will try and create his own opportunities. I did well to fight off his chances. At the end of the set, his game was rising and it was quite a good battle.”
Nishikori, already into the ATP year-end championships, fell to 1-4 in finals this year and 11-9 career.
“In the second set, I was a little tight,” said Nishikori. “I had a couple set points and couldn’t convert. He played good tennis today…It will be important to have another good week in Paris and again in London. That will be my last goal of the year.”
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