French Open: Marin Cilic battles past Andrey Rublev in fifth set tie-break to win epic quarter-final clash

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Marin Cilic is into his first Grand Slam semi-final for more than four years after he beat Andrey Rublev in an epic French Open quarter-final clash.

The 2014 US Open Champion was sensational as he dismantled world number two Daniil Medvedev in the previous round, but he was made to work significantly harder by Rublev in a 5-7 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 victory.

Neither player could find a break of serve in the fifth set as it went to a super tie-break, which Cilic won 10-2 to book his place in the last four at Roland Garros for the first time.

There were 33 aces and 71 unforced errors from the Croatian in a powerful, if somewhat erratic, display as Cilic held his nerve when it mattered most.

“The fifth set was an incredible battle,” Cilic said after the match.

“Andrey played incredibly well. One had to go down and today was my day.

“It was hard emotionally because he played some games very well. When you play this long there’s always some ups and downs so I had to keep my focus.”

Rublev played with accuracy in the first set, which he won with a break of serve in the 11th game having not faced a single break point.

Cilic picked himself up in the second set to break for 2-0 and held throughout, although he needed four set points before then levelling the match with an ace.

Rublev was thrown off balance and struggled to read the Croatian’s serve. He played too short, giving Cilic the opportunity to whip brutal forehands past the Russian, breaking for 4-3 in the third set.

But Rublev found some new energy in the fourth, playing more aggressively and with more power to break for 5-3 and hold to send the match into a decider.

Rublev saved a match point at 5-4 before yet another ace by Cilic allowed the Croatian to save a break point at 5-5 in a tense finale.

It went down to the super tie-break, in which Cilic added powerful returns to his huge first serve to prevail on the second match point when Rublev buried a backhand into the net.

Rublev has now failed to win any of his five quarter-finals at a major, while Cilic has reached the semi-finals at all four Grand Slams.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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