Cilic crashes out of Maharashtra Open

Gilles Simon of France celebrates after beating Cilic.
Gilles Simon of France celebrates after beating Cilic.PHOTO: AFP

PUNE, India (AFP) - Top seed Marin Cilic of Croatia crashed out of the ATP Maharashtra Open on Friday (Jan 5), losing in three sets to lowly-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon at the semi-final stage.

Cilic, the world number six and overwhelming pre-tournament favourite, comfortably took the first set 6-1 but Simon stunned the 2014 US Open champion to win the next two 6-3, 6-2.

Simon, the world number 89, will play Kevin Anderson in Sunday’s final after the South African overcame France’s Benoit Paire in a hard-fought encounter lasting almost two and a half hours.

Anderson lost the first set 6-7 (8/6) before narrowly taking the second 7-6 (7/2).

The 6 ft 8 in big hitter, seeded second in the hard court event, than claimed the third 6-1 as Paire started to tire.

The Maharashtra Open is being held in the western Indian city of Pune and has total prize money of US$500,000 (S$630,000).

It is viewed as a key warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on Jan 15.