Taiwan’s Chuang Chia-jung was knocked out of the quarter-finals of the doubles at the Citi Open in Washington on Thursday, while reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic edged a tight third-round men’s singles match with Sam Querrey.
Chuang and Liang Chen of China fell to a 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 defeat to Irina Falconi of the US and Monica Niculescu of Romania in 1 hour, 37 minutes in the US capital.
Falconi and Niculescu saved one of three break points and converted two of nine, winning 67 of the 122 points contested to edge the tight contest and advance to a semi-final against third seeds Lara Arruabarrena of Spain and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia.
In the men’s singles, Querrey gave Cilic all he could handle in the first set — until the tiebreaker. In the second set, too — until the tiebreaker.
Getting his hard-court game in gear a few weeks before defending his first Grand Slam title, Cilic edged 13th seed Querrey 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3) to reach the Citi Open quarter-finals.
“Pretty comfortable tiebreakers, but if one or two things would be a bit different, it could have been very, very tight,” third seed Cilic said.
How close was it?
Take away the tiebreakers and Querrey won more total points, 74 to 67. The American also compiled more winners, 32 to 25, and he even served for the second set while up a break at 5-3, but got broken.
“A little bummed right now. I felt like I didn’t necessarily outplay him, but I was right there,” Querrey said. “In that first set, I felt like I had all the chances, but the tiebreaker got away from me a little bit. The second set was similar. I needed to tighten things up a little bit when I was serving for the set.”
Down 1-0 in the first tiebreaker, Querrey put two first serves in, but lost both points by missing forehands, one into the net, the other wide.
“Right away, I was down 3-0... and against a guy like Marin, who’s got a great serve himself and is so solid, you feel like you’re a long way from the first set at that point,” Querrey said. “So it kind of sucks the wind out of you.”
With Cilic up 2-1 in the second tiebreaker, he smacked a running, down-the-line forehand winner and raised his left fist.
“That pretty much decided the match,” Cilic said.
The Croatian is the first reigning US Open champion to enter Washington’s hard-court tournament since Andre Agassi in 2000.
Next for Cilic is matchup with 18-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, the youngest quarter-finalist in the nation’s capital since Andy Roddick was 17 in 2000. Zverev got past 2012 Citi Open champion Alexandr Dolgopolov 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The man Cilic defeated for the title at Flushing Meadows last year, Kei Nishikori, played nearly mistake-free tennis to move into his 11th ATP Tour quarter-final of the season by beating 16th seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4, 6-4.
Second seed Nishikori made only seven unforced errors, half as many winners as he produced in the 1 hour, 30 minute victory.
Nishikori was due to meet Sam Groth for a berth in the semi-finals. Groth delivered 20 aces in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over seventh seed Feliciano Lopez.
“I’m going to have to play my game style. Nothing changes too much for me,” Groth said, looking ahead to facing Nishikori. “I’ve got to hold serve and I’ve got to build pressure around that, and I’ve got to make him feel uncomfortable. I’m going to attack the net. I’m going to be aggressive and I’m going to do what I do.”
Jack Sock and Steve Johnson set up an all-American quarter-final by eliminating seeded opponents.
Sock came back to beat fourth seed Richard Gasquet of France 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, while Johnson got past sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
In Thursday’s final men’s singles match, John Isner defeated 2014 runner-up Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).
Eighth seed Isner’s quarter-final opponent was to be world No. 86 Ricardas Berankis, a 7-5, 6-4 winner against Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Women’s singles winners included top seed Ekaterina Makarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Christina McHale.
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