Chennai: Strong title contenders Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka, who was also the defending champion, were knocked out of the Chennai Open by their respective opponents, here on Friday.
French fifth seed Benoit Paire handed two-time champion and third seed Cilic a 6-4 1-6 7-5 defeat in the quarter-final, which lasted one hour and 54 minutes. Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene put paid to the hopes of world number 17 and fourth seed Swiss Wawrinka with an impressive 6-2 7-6(6) win that came in one hour 31 minutes.
Wawrinka broke back immediately after dropping serve in the very first game of the match but Bedene tired him out by engaging him in long rallies. Bedene's forehand passing shots stood out as he broke Wawrinka in the fifth and seventh games to race away with the opening set. The second set was fought fiercely and was stretched to the tie-breaker in which Beden held his nerves to prevail over Wawrinka. The scores were 6-6 in the tie-breaker when Bedene's accuracy with the first serve paid off as he reeled off points in a jiffy to oust Wawrinka.
In the other match, Paire and Cilic traded early breaks in the first set but teh French man broke the Croat one more time for a 4-3 lead and then wrapped up the set 6-4 in 40 minutes. In the second set, Cilic fought back amazingly as he conceded just one game and drew parity. His booming forehands were too hot to handle for Paire. The Croat led 2-1 and then broke Paire in the fourth and sixth games to take the match to the decider. Cilic went in the decider with momentum and broke Paire in the first game. But the advantage was lost when he dropped his serve in the fourth game. The scores were 5-5 and with Paire holding serve in the 11th game, Paire led 6-5. Cilic badly needed a hold in the 12 game to stay alive but crumbled under pressure.
Cilic struggled to control his unforced errors and Paire cashed in on the two break chances to walk out triumphant.