Murray battles through
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:05
Murray appeared to be bothered by his long-standing knee problem and had to fight back from being broken early on, but he improved as the contest progressed and, with the help of a match-defining 10th game in the first set, he went on to claim a 7-5 7-6 (7/2) triumph.
Murray will now face either eighth seed Andy Roddick or Gael Monfils for a place in the semi-finals.
The world number four enjoyed a flying start to the Madrid Masters during his opening match against Simone Bolelli on Tuesday and was leading 6-0 2-1 before the Italian retired injured, but it was a different story against Cilic as he was broken in only his second service game.
It then looked ominous for Murray as the 6ft 6in Cilic powered down an ace on his second serve to go 15-0 up in the next game, and although the Scot hit back to claim the next two points, his opponent held to go 3-1 up.
There was little sign of the drama to come as the next five games went with serve before Cilic, with the score at 5-4 in his favour, looked poised to take the set as he raced into a 40-0 lead in the 10th game. But Murray went on to stage a brilliant recovery in what was almost certainly the turning point of the match as he rallied back to win the set.
The first seven games of the second set went with serve without too many problems, but the increasingly dominant Murray then established three break points in the eighth.
Cilic managed to save all three of them en route to winning four consecutive points, but Murray was not to be denied and he earned the first break of the set when the Croatian put a forehand into the net to see the Scot take a 5-3 lead.
Murray could not finish the match off on his own serve though as Cilic broke back immediately, and the world number 24 then held to send the set to a tie-break.
The tie-break was barely a contest though as the wilting Cilic made a series of unforced errors to enable Murray to cruise to a 7-2 win and victory.