In one of the most stunning upsets so far, third seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, one of the pre tournament favourites crashed out in the second round on Thursday as little known Argentine Guido Pella came from two sets down overnight to score a 3-6,1-6,6-4,7-6(3),7-5 win. Cilic, who last year lost to Roger Federer in the final, went in as the second favourite and had won the ATP 500 event at Queen’s Club beating the three time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
The match which was suspended yesterday by rain with Cilic overpowering the left handed Pella to claim the first two sets with ease and with Pella leading 4-3 in the 3rd set. Pella won the set 6-4 but Cilic got an early break in the fourth set. The Argentine fought back to level and won the tie-break easily against the Croat who was feeling the pressure of huge expectations.
He did save two match points with blistering serves in the tenth game, but the Argentine got the lone break in the twelfth game winning on his fourth match point. Cilic squandered three break point chances and served 27 aces in the match, but 37 unforced errors cost him dearly. Cilic won 150 points against Pella who won 140 points in the three hour thirteen minute match on court number One.
There were no such problems for the two time champion Rafael Nadal who defeated Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4,6-3,6-4. Even more impressive was the three time champion Novak Djokovic who won 6-1,6-2,6-3 against Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. It was a day of mixed results for Argentina as fifth seeded Juan Martin Del Potro won 6-4,6-1,6-2 against the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, playing in his record breaking 66th consecutive grand slam tournament. In a minor upset, Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic took out the fourteenth seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3,6-4,7-6(3).
Other winners on Day Four were the Australians Nick Kyrgios and Matthew Ebden. The unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire continued his recent good form to take out the 26th seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada despite being bageled in the first set before winning 0-6,6-2,6-4,7-6(3). 24th seeded Kei Nishikori triumphed 2-6,6-3,7-6(7),7-5 against the Australian Bernard Tomic. The Latvian Ernests Gulbis, once ranked in the Top 10 accounted for the 27th seeded Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina to win 6-3 in the fifth set.
The Russian Karen Khachanov survived a tremendous fightback from the colourfull Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus who came from two sets down to force the decider which Khachanov won 7-5. The American Frances Tiafoe beat the veteran Frenchman Julien Benneteau in four sets, while the young Australian Alex De Minaur beat another Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, also in four sets. Giles Simon, a former Top Ten player also from France, beat the Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3,7-6(4),6-2.
In other matches which were suspended yesterday, the Italian Thomas Fabbiano ended the hopes if the three time grand slam champion Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6(7),6-3,7-6(6). Kevin Anderson completed a four set win against the Italian Andreas Seppi, while Phillip Kohlschreiber won three tie-breaks against the left handed Giles Muller of Luxembourg who had taken out Nadal last year in an epic five set match in the Round of 16.
John Isner, who blew a two sets lead against the Belgian left hander Ruben Bemelmans before winning 7-5 in the fifth set, but another American Jared Donaldson was beaten by the 31st seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 6-3 in the fifth set.
The following is the list of matches to be played in the Top half of the men’s draw with my pick mentioned first:-
Roger Federer (1) v. Jan-Lennard Struff (-)
Adrian Mannarino (22) v. Daniil Medvedev (-)
Sam Querrey (11) v. Gael Monfils (-)
Kevin Anderson (8) v. Phillip Kohlschreiber (25)
Guido Pella (-) v. Mackenzie McDonald (-)
Milos Raonic (13) v. Dennis Novak (-)
John Isner (9) v. Radu Albot (-)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (31) v. Thomas Fabbiano (-)
In the ladies section of the draw, top seeded Simona Halep of Romania beat Shuai Zhang of China 7-5,6-0, while the former world number one Angelique Kerber came from a set down to beat the American Claire Liu 3-6,6-2,6-4. The Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1,6-3. There was disappointment for the home crowd as Johanna Konta of Britain lost to Dominica Cibulkova of the Czech Republic 3-6,4-6, while the eighteenth seeded Naomi Osaka beat Katie Boulter by the same scoreline.
Other winners on Day Four include the Estonian Anett Kontaveit, Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, Vitalia Diatchenko and Daria Kasatkina of Russia, Elise Merterns of Belgium, Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, Daria Gavrilova and Ashley Barty of Australia and Barbara Strycova of the Czech Republic. Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic beat the Tunisian Ons Jabeur 5-7,6-4,9-7, while the last remaining Swiss in the women’s draw Belinda Bencic edged the American Alison Riske 1-6,7-6(10),6-2.
The defending champion Garbine Muguruza has been surprisingly knocked out of the tournament after the third seed was beaten by Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 7-5,2-6,1-6 in a match that finished late in the evening on Thursday.
In the men’s section top British player Kyle Edmund had an easy 6-4,7-6(0),6-2 win over the American Bradley Kahn, while in an all Italian match up Fabio Fognini won in straight sets against Simone Bolelli 6-3,6-4,6-1. There maybe an upset in the making as the fourth seeded German Alexander Zverev trails by 1-2 in sets to the American Taylor Fritz. Zverev took the first set 6-4, but Fritz has fought back to claim the next two sets 7-5,7-6(0).
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]