TOKYO — Marin Cilic and David Goffin advanced to the semifinals of the Japan Open on Friday, and they will play each other for a spot in the final.
The fifth-seeded Goffin rallied to beat Joao Sousa 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, while the fourth-seeded Cilic beat injury-plagued Juan Monaco 7-5, 6-1.
Goffin beat Cilic in Indian Wells early this year, and then again in a Davis Cup match for Belgium against Croatia. Those are their only two career meetings.
“That was when I played my best tennis this year,” Goffin said. “I can play fast against him and he doesn’t like that, because he’s a big guy and he doesn’t like to run. If I’m returning well, he struggles a bit.”
Nick Kyrgios also advanced to the semifinals, defeating Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 6-2. He will next face second-seeded Gael Monfils. The Frenchman beat Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6).
Cilic took an early lead against Monaco in the first set, but then let the Argentine back into the match. Monaco, who has been troubled by various injuries this season, became reluctant to chase down balls in the second set, allowing Cilic to advance.
“I felt today I was a bit up and down with my serve and I have to get that right from the start tomorrow,” Cilic said, looking ahead to Saturday’s match against Goffin. “He’s extremely quick around the court, plays very close to the baseline and pushes players back. It’s going to be important for me to serve well and get some free points.”
Karlovic took every set he played at this week’s tournament to a tiebreaker, including both sets against Monfils on Friday.
“It’s always difficult to play Ivo, there aren’t that many opportunities,” Monfils said. “A bit like today, I’m going to have to be patient tomorrow.”