Cilic through to Kremlin final after hardfought Kukushkin win

Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:49pm EDT
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By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic overcame a spirited challenge from Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to win their Kremlin Cup semi-final 4-6 6-3 6-2 on Saturday.

Croatian Cilic, the world number eight who has qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, lost the first set but quickly recovered against the world number 74.

The 26 year-old stepped up a gear in the second set helped by a significant improvement in his serve and took the decider for the loss of just two games to reach the final.

"Mikhail was playing great tennis today," Cilic told reporters. "And I was not serving as good as yesterday."

Cilic will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the final after the 26-year-old Spaniard overcame Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4 6-4.

"The last time I played with Bautista was in 2002, but we are really good friends. It will be a very interesting match, as he improved a lot this season," Cilic said.

It will be Cilic`s fifth final of the year. He was victorious in the U.S. Open, won ATP world tour events in Zagreb and Delray Beach and finished runner-up in Rotterdam.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Croatia's Marin Cilic hits a return against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin during their Kremlin Cup men's semi-final tennis match in Moscow October 18, 2014.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor