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Watch highlights as Gael Monfils returns to defeat top seed Marin Cilic in the second round of the Rio Open presented by Claro. Dominic Thiem, Aljaz Bedene and Fabio Fognini also advanced. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo Credit: Rio Open.

Monfils Barely Raises A Sweat In Four-Point Cliffhanger

Frenchman survives set point to complete rain-interrupted win over top seed

A little frustration from Gael Monfils would be no surprise after rain postponed overnight the completion of his second-round victory over top seed Marin Cilic at the Rio Open presented by Claro. The unseeded Frenchman had already let a match point slip the day before against the Croat and faced a set point after the resumption of play on Thursday.

Fortunately for Monfils, however, the pair returned to court for just four more points, as he completed the upset on his second match point, 6-3, 7-6(8). The win extends Monfils’ FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the Australian Open finalist to 3-0. He had beaten Cilic once before in Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Olympic Games.

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Next up, he faces Argentine sixth seed Diego Schwartzman for a semi-final berth. Monfils won the pair’s only prior clash at Roland Garros three years ago.

“I don't think I feel very good, it's not about numbers,” Monfils said. “I think I'm not in my best shape yet, I'm fighting for every point.  Tomorrow will be a great match, Schwartzman is a very fast player. I will have to play more aggressive.”

Second seed and defending champion Dominic Thiem was earlier handed a comfortable passage through to the quarter-finals when his opponent, Spain’s Pablo Andujar, retired trailing 2-4 with a right shoulder injury. The Austrian will take on another Spaniard in the quarter-finals after Fernando Verdasco rebounded strongly for a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-0 win over Argentine Nicolas Kicker.

“Never played him on clay, only on grass and fast hard court last year at Bercy [Paris],” Thiem said. “It’s going to be very tough. He’s fit and he’s fresh as we saw today. He played a long match...  I have to watch out that I am the one dictating the game because once you let him dictate with his forehand, the point is almost over.”

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The 2015 runner-up and No. 5 seed Fabio Fognini prevailed in a three-set thriller against American Tennys Sandgren 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(6). The Italian will next meet Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, a player he owns a perfect 7-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against.

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Bedene continued his impressive form of late with an upset of No. 3 seed Pablo Carreno-Busta, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. The World No. 43 reached his third ATP World Tour final last week in Buenos Aires where he fell to Thiem.

“Never easy to face someone that defeated you in all seven matches,” Bedene said of facing Fognini. “But this time I'm playing better. I have been playing some really good tennis and now I have my best ranking on ATP … so, yes, I consider this the best moment of my career.”

Seventh seed and 2016 champion Pablo Cuevas booked an all-South American quarter-final against Chilean Nicolas Jarry. The Uruguayan saw off lucky loser Gastao Elias of Portugal 7-5, 6-1.

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