Top seed Cilic downs compatriot

AP, MEMPHIS, Tennessee

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 19

Top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia was taken to three sets on Monday before defeating Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round of the US National Indoor Championships.

Cilic ranked 12th, got out slowly in the first set, but controlled the final two en route to the second round in the match that lasted one hour, 46 minutes.

Cilic was the only seeded player on the men’s side of the tournament to play on Monday. Third-seeded John Isner and Sam Querrey, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, were expected to open play yesterday.

On the women’s side, top-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium defeated Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-2, while second-seeded Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden downed Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova 6-4, 6-4.

In a late match on Monday night, No. 8 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France took just less than an hour to defeat wild-card entry Courtney Collins of the US 6-3, 6-1.

Cilic and Dodig grew up in the same neighborhood in Croatia and have known each other for years.

“We’ve practiced many, many times,” Cilic said, later adding: “I think we both knew each other’s games, maybe even more than enough on some occasions. It’s tough to find the right solution.”

Cilic said he had chances early in the first set to stay even with Dodig, but missed opportunities and a strong serve from Dodig early had him on the defensive until early in the second.

“He served extremely well, and I didn’t have many chances on the return to make something,” Cilic said of the first set. “Of the chances I got, I think he played extremely well, or I missed a couple of opportunities.”