U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic reached the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup after grinding out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Russian wild card entrant Evgeny Donskoy on Wednesday.
The second-seeded Croatian struggled at times on his way to victory in 1 hour 52 minutes, his first match of the tournament after receiving a first-round bye.
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Cilic was broken to love in the first game of the deciding set, but immediately broke back and soon closed out the match.
"I’m satisfied with my game. You are always a little bit rusty in the first match," Cilic said.
"From the back of the court I felt I could have been hitting the shots a bit better and, the serve, on some occasions I was feeling it really well, and some I was a little bit up and down."
He next faces either sixth-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain or Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic.
Cilic has yet to qualify for the season-ending ATP Tour Finals in London and a good showing in Moscow could prove important.
Fifth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut won his second-round match against big-serving Australian Sam Groth 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).
In the quarterfinals, Bautista Agut will meet top-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic if he beats Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.
Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, the world No. 27, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over compatriot Viktor Baluda, ranked 439 places below him.
Italy’s Andreas Seppi, the 2012 Kremlin Cup winner beat Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the second round.
There was an upset in the women’s draw as second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova exited her hometown tournament in the second round, losing 6-4, 6-4 to Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.
"Begu played very well today," Makarova said. "I was obviously worried, I won’t hide that. I really wanted to play well at home, so I had some emotions."
Begu next meets either Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova or Moscow-born Serbian, Aleksandra Krunic.
Third-seeded Flavia Pennetta also fell, losing 7-6 (4), 6-4 to fellow Italian Camila Giorgi in their second-round match.
Also in the quarterfinals is fourth-seeded Lucie Safarova, who ousted Serbia’s Alja Tomljanovic 7-6 (4), 6-2, while Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia rallied to beat Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.