© Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Marin Cilic celebrates a third-round win over Steve Johnson at Roland Garros.

Cilic Powers Past Johnson In Paris

World No. 4 to face Fognini in Round of 16

Marin Cilic reached the Round of 16 for the fifth time in 12 visits to Roland Garros on Saturday, defeating American Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

"Everything felt quite good," said Cilic. "[My] movement and serving was great, [it was] very consistent serving... I felt that I was controlling most of the points."

The World No. 4 won 83 per cent of service points and dropped just one point at the net (11/12) to secure the win after one hour and 34 minutes. Cilic has now reached the Round of 16 at the Grand Slam level on more occasions than any other Croatian man (20), breaking a tie with former coach Goran Ivanisevic.

Cilic, who reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final on clay at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, improves to 10-4 on the surface this season and moves to 5-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Johnson. The 2017 quarter-finalist will face Italy's Fabio Fognini for a place in the last eight.

"Fabio (Fognini) is an amazing player on clay," said Cilic. "We have seen during the years so many matches of his where he played great tennis, and again today, he had an amazing battle with Kyle (Edmund)... It is going to be a big challenge, as well, for me to play him. He's one of the great clay court specialists that we have on the Tour... I just hope that I'm going to be, with my performance, on a high level to serve as good as I served today."

Fognini booked his place in the fourth round for the second time, beating Kyle Edmund 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"It was a pretty tough match," said Fognini. "Kyle (Edmund) started the year really well, so he has improved his game a lot... I'm happy, because it was a really tough match."

The Italian, who reached the quarter-finals in 2011, hit 41 winners, including seven aces, in the three-hour, 34-minute contest to join countryman Marco Cecchinato in the fourth round. Fognini and Cecchinato's success marks the first time since 1976 that Italy has had multiple representatives competing in the Round of 16 at the clay-court Grand Slam championship (Barazzutti, Panatta).

"Losing in five sets is tough. But I did the best I could today," reflected Edmund. "Sometimes it's just not your day... It's always tough when you put in lots of effort and emotion. It's what you train for. And it just wasn't my day."

Fognini has now won eight of his past 10 matches, having reached the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-finals and the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open semi-finals in his two most recent events before arriving in Paris. 

Did You Know?
Marin Cilic is bidding to become the 11th man in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals. Cilic won his maiden Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open (d. Nishikori) and has also reached the final at 2017 Wimbledon and the 2018 Australian Open, falling to Roger Federer on both occasions.

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