Defending champion Cilic advances in straight sets

Mon Aug 31, 2015 5:13pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marin Cilic made a strong start in defense of his U.S. Open title by powering past Argentine qualifier Guido Pella 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3) in Monday's opening day at the U.S. Open.

The ninth-seeded Cilic registered 13 aces and seven service winners in dismissing 94th-ranked Pella, who fought gamely and was broken only twice in the two-hour match at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

"I think Guido played really, really good today," Cilic said in an on-court interview. "He was causing me trouble with his serve. Today was a bit gusty so it was not easy to put my returns in, but I managed somehow and I was pretty happy with my serve."

The 26-year-old Croatian raised his game in the tiebreakers, to avoid the fate suffered by his 2014 finals' opponent, Japan's fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who fell in five sets to Benoit Paire of France.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Marin Cilic of Croatia serves to Guido Pella of Argentina during their match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar