Cilic overpowers Paire; Almagro pulls out with illness
TOKYO (AP) Maran Cilic advanced to the second round of the Rakuten Japan Open with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win Monday over last year's finalist Benoit Paire.
The fourth-seeded Cilic had five aces on his way to securing the opening set in only 20 minutes at Ariake Colosseum.
Paire broke the Croatian only once, in the seventh game of the second set. The Frenchman then saved five breakpoints to take a 5-3 lead and forced a deciding third set.
Cilic regained control with a decisive break in the sixth game of the third. Paire saved two match points in the ninth game before Cilic served it out.
He'll meet either Japanese qualifier Go Soeda or Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the second round.
Joao Sousa earlier rallied to beat Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to move into a second-round match against either top-seeded Kei Nishikori or American Donald Young. Nishikori had been scheduled to open against Nicolas Almagro, but the Spanish player withdrew because of illness.