Wimbledon 2018

Cilic joins exodus of stars

Croatia's Marin Cilic in action during his second-round match against Argentina's Guido Pella at Wimbledon yesterday, in which he suffered a shock 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 defeat.
Croatia's Marin Cilic in action during his second-round match against Argentina's Guido Pella at Wimbledon yesterday, in which he suffered a shock 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 defeat.PHOTO: REUTERS

Third seed falls to No. 82 Pella, as five of the top eight women's seeds also bite the dust

LONDON • Wimbledon 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic refused to blame the rain interruption for a break in his momentum after he suffered a shock 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 defeat by Guido Pella of Argentina in the second round yesterday.

The 29-year-old Croat, seeded third, became the latest of a slew of seeds to have crashed out thus far.

Cilic began the day two sets up but 4-3 down on Pella's serve in the third after Wednesday evening's halt for rain, and found his opponent very much up for the fight.

"Pella served well and came back into the match, so it became a different match," he said.

"It's a big disappointment to lose in the second round when I was playing well in the last few weeks.

"I felt not at the right level that I needed to be. He played solid, much better than yesterday. I had two levels between yesterday and today. There were many balls I was not executing well today."

Cilic, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's final, had been expected to mount a strong challenge for the Wimbledon title after winning the grass-court warm-up at Queen's Club two weeks ago.

He had only once before lost to a player ranked as low as world No. 82 Pella at Wimbledon, when he was beaten by world No. 145 Arnaud Clement 10 years ago.

But, after reaching the Australian Open final and French Open quarter-finals earlier this year, Cilic has now suffered one of the worst results of his career.

In other matches yesterday, Stan Wawrinka was also defeated 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) by Italian journeyman Thomas Fabbiano.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal eased past Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, while Novak Djokovic beat Argentina's Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.

Besides Cilic, the men's draw has notably already lost sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov, 10th seed David Goffin and No. 7 Dominic Thiem, the latter due to an injury.

The top women's seeds also continued to be scattered on Wednesday, with Caroline Wozniacki's exit meaning five of the top eight were gone before the end of the third day.

An unprecedented 11 men's seeds and 10 on the women's side failed to make it past the first round.

Second seed Wozniacki's defeat in the second round by Ekaterina Makarova, together with fourth seed Sloane Stephen's first-round loss on Monday, mean Romania's Simona Halep will remain as world No. 1.

The reigning French Open champion beat Zheng Saisai of China 7-5, 6-0 in the second round yesterday.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Caroline Garcia (6th) and Petra Kvitova (8th) have also been eliminated.

"There's just an abundance of talent but it's very unpredictable at the top," three-time Wimbledon champion Chris Evert said.

"There're 10 women who can win a Grand Slam. It's unpredictable. But it's still wonderful to watch."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Cilic joins exodus of stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe