Marin Cilic struggled through a five-set marathon capped with a closing burst of form to bury Andy Roddick 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3 and become the first Croatian to reach the men’s semifinal of an Australian Open.
“It wasn’t easy,” said the relieved 14th seeded winner. “But I had experience — it was his third five-set match of the tournament — during the week.
“In the fifth set I had a few extra gears. He started to play better and I struggled on serve.
“He was putting the pressure on and I didn’t know what to do. But point by point, starting win the first game when I held from 0-40 down, I managed.” Cilic, in his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal appearance, faces the winner from holder and second seed Rafael Nadal and Briton Andy Murray, seeded fifth and an outside title chance.
The holiday victory on the national day was hard-fought, with Roddick looking like packing it in after being treated for shoulder pain after losing a tiebreaker first set. The American former number one rallied from the depths to hang on and make a match of it against Cilic Cilic grabbed a 4-1 lead in the final set but had to hold on as seventh seed Roddick made a massive survival bid before finally going down. The American fired a return wide at the net to lost in just under four hours.
The Croatian produced 19 aces against 13 for the hampered Roddick, with Cilic breaking five times and finding 81 winners.
Roddick took a medical timeout after losing the opening set in a tiebreaker, telling the trainer he felt sharp pain in his right shoulder on big serves and high forehands. He added that the trouble may have begun during his night-time win less than 48 hours earlier against Fernando Gonzalez. But the former number played through it all.