1st round : Marin d Alberto Martin : 6/3 6/4 6/4
2d round : Marin d Querrey : 4/6 7/6 6/3 6/7 6/4
The battle of the big hitters between California and Croatia went the way of Europe in the late evening on Centre Court when Marin Cilic outlasted Sam Querrey in a five-set marathon 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 in three hours 24 minutes.
Cilic, at 20 a year younger than the American, recovered from an uncertain start that could easily have seen him fall two sets behind. Instead he mounted a brave recovery in which Querrey was eventually the first of these 6ft 6in athletes to blink, going match point down on his third double fault before striking a backhand long as Cilic sank to his knees in a mixture of exhaustion and delight.
For much of this gripping encounter, it was Querrey’s ability to produce an ace – he hit 24 of them – that kept the eager Croatian at bay when he mounted his recovery after dropping the opening set in 37 minutes
That recovery did not get under way until dangerously late in the second set when Querrey had established a seemingly unassailable 5-2 lead. The 11th-seeded Cilic needed a touch of good fortune, and found it when he broke the Querrey serve with an outrageously lucky net cord that fell dead into the American’s side of the court.
Having extended the set to a tiebreak, Cilic ran away with it by seven points to three and he kept up the momentum by taking the third set comfortably and then breaking Querrey at the start of the fourth.
It was time for Querrey to live up to his reputation of power man, and he duly obliged. This was the player who once served 10 aces in a row and 34 in all to beat James Blake in 2007, so it was no surprise as the aces piled up.
Cilic’s authority started to waver and then cracked in the second tiebreak of the match, which Querrey won by seven points to four.
All square after two hours and 52 minutes. It had now become a question of whether darkness would end this battle before one of them suffered a break of serve. Then, with a 5-4 lead to Cilic, it was Querrey who turned out to be the victim of the dagger thrust.