Pune : Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson, the two Grand Slam finalists in 2017, raised the prospects of a title clash after reaching the semi-finals of the Tata Open Maharashtra, albeit, with contrasting wins, here on Thursday night.
Top seed Cilic from Croatia outplayed eighth seed Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-2 in 64 minutes but Anderson survived a mighty scare from a dogged Mikhail Kukushkin before edging past him 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2.
The US Open finalist from South Africa had to strategize and re-strategize against the Kazak in an intense quarterfinal, which lasted two hours and 30 minutes. His big serve, with which he fired 24 aces, was put to test by the Kazakh but eventually he found a way to win.
Up against Kukushkin, a great retriever, Anderson had to rely on serve and volley mid-way into the match and the strategy did work.
Kukushkin was a picture of determination and perseverance as he returned almost everything, refusing to be intimidated by six feet eight inch Anderson.
The South African came out blasting big serves in the range of 200 but Kukushkin’s anticipation was so spot-on that he got himself positioned nicely to return everything.
Cilic will now take on a very impressive French man Gilles Simon, who ended the run of Spanish qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara with a 6-2, 6-3 win.
The 89th-ranked Simon had knocked out defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round and maintained his rhythm by winning 89 percent points.