Pune: Top seed Marin Cilic put up an exquisite display on Thursday at the Tata Maharashtra Open as he sailed into his first semi-final of 2018 with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in 64 minutes.
The World No 6 started the match with a love-hold, which included two aces — an ominous sign for his opponent. Two-time doubles Grand Slam champion Herbert was playing against Cilic for the first time in his career and he was on the receiving end of a schooling from the Croatian.
Serving at 2-3, Herbert missed a few first serves to fall behind 0-40. Cilic pounced on this opportunity and drilled a forehand winner past a hapless Herbert to break for the first time in the match.
The one break of serve was enough for Cilic to clinch the opening set as he was almost untouchable on his own serve. Cilic ended the match with seven aces, winning 23 out of his 24 first-serve points and never facing a break point.
The top seed looked in great touch and only stepped things up a notch in the second set. Cilic barely put a foot wrong and had everything going his way — he made outrageous service return winners at full stretch, covered the net with beautifully-struck volleys, painted the lines with his forehand and consistently served over the 200 kmph mark.
Herbert’s serve, which had been getting him out of trouble all week, deserted him in the seco...