Marin Cilic won the battle of big men in the Istanbul final, while Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta couldn’t be touched in running to the Estoril championship on Sunday.
Cilic and Milos Raonic engaged in a battle of towering ball-hitters in the final of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open, where the Croat Cilic walking away 7-6(3), 6-3 with his first title of the year, and first on clay in five years.
“I’m on a good track and feeling very well,” said Cilic, who did not drop a set all week. “In these last three or four weeks on clay, it’s never easy, but I’m trying to get better with every match. This week was a big one for me and a good sign for the rest of the claycourt season. I hope I can improve in these upcoming three tournaments — two Masters 1000 events and the French Open.”
Cilic had nine aces and saved all seven break points he faced.
“The critical points came in the tiebreak,” said the 28-year-old Cilic who improved to 17-11 in career finals. “I managed to play a really good tiebreak and hit a few great backhands down the line. Then in the second set, getting that break and holding for 3-1 was definitely the deciding moment.”
Cilic hadn’t raised a trophy on clay since Umag in 2012, and will rise to No. 7 on the ATP rankings.
Raonic, in his first career claycourt final, fell to 0-2 in 2017 finals after Delray Beach, and 8-13 in career finals, seeking a first title since January of last year at Brisbane.
“The tennis was good and I achieved a lot of the things I would have liked,” said Raonic, who has battled a hamstring injury much of 2017. “Of course I didn’t achieve the ultimate thing, but I got a much better understanding of how I need to play on clay and I got to play four matches. These are all positive things at the end of the day…I didn’t serve very well…Credit to my opponent for playing well.”
Carreno Busta, the top seed at the Millennium Estoril Open, in the final beat No. 3 seed Gilles Muller 6-2, 7-6(5) for his first title of 2017, improving to 3-3 in career finals.
The Spaniard was runner-up in February in Rio de Janeiro to Dominic Thiem.
Carreno Busta didn’t drop a set all week, beating former Top 5 player Tommy Robredo, defending champion Nicolas Almagro, and No. 4 seed David Ferrer en route to the final. In the second set both players held throughout to force the tiebreak, where Carreno Busta held off a comeback by Muller to wrap-up the title.
For the big-serving Muller it was a career-first claycourt final. The 33-year-old from Luxembourg won his career-first ATP title this January in Sydney, and fell to 1-6 in career finals.
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