Marin Cilic got all he could handle from 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday, but the former World No. 3 clawed past the #NextGenATP Spaniard 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Millennium Estoril Open.
“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him and you could see in the end one or two points just decided the match.”
Alcaraz showed his fighting spirit by rallying from a break down twice in the third set, pushing the 2014 US Open champion to the limit. But the teen was unable to edge ahead of the Croatian, who broke for a third time in the decider to clinch his two-hour, 14-minute victory when Alcaraz missed a backhand long.
Cilic will now play former Mississippi State University standout Nuno Borges for a spot in the quarter-finals. Borges earned his first ATP Tour win on Monday against Jordan Thompson.
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In other action, Richard Gasquet battled hard to complete a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina in one hour and 49 minutes. The 2015 champion has played just four tournaments this year due to a leg injury. Gasquet will next play second-seeded Chilean Cristian Garin.
Another former Estoril champion, home hero Joao Sousa, was unable to advance. Cameron Norrie ousted the 2018 titlist 6-1, 6-3 to set a clash against Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez, who eased past fifth seed Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-0.
Italy’s Marco Cecchinato, the 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist, required 77 minutes to overcome Lloyd Harris of South Africa 6-3, 6-4 and now faces third-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert. In an all-French battle, Pierre-Hugues Herbert eliminated former Top 10 star Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-3.