By Ann Liguori
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Marin Cilic is in the US Open semifinals for the first time.
The 14th-seeded Croatian was impressive during his 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over No. 6 Tomas Berdych on Thursday, serving 19 aces and smacking 46 winners.
A year ago, Cilic did not play the US Open. He pulled out of Wimbledon, claiming he had a knee injury, but it was later revealed that he had failed a drug test. He said he ingested it unintentionally and never intended on taking anything to enhance his performance.
Cilic ended up serving a four-month suspension after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
But now, with all that behind him, he finds himself playing on the final weekend of the US Open.
As sharp as Cilic was on Thursday, Berdych helped him out by playing flat during the first two sets. He finally woke up in the third, racing to a 3-0 lead.
But Cilic was too determined.
Berdych eventually let his emotions get the best of him. Up 4-2 and 30-15, he chased down a shot, but the court umpire called it a double bounce, a ruling the television replay later confirmed. However, since the replay challenges only pertain to line calls (and are computer-generated animation of line calls), Berdych did not see a replay and insisted he hit the return after only one bounce. He ended up losing his serve and continued to argue with the umpire during the change-over. The anger over what he thought was a bad call certainly impacted that game.
Cilic continued to shine during the tiebreaker and ended the match with another ace and a forehand winner.
The 25-year-old from Croatia, who is coached by countryman and former world No. 2, Goran Ivanisevic, will next have to contend with either Roger Federer, who he has never beaten in five attempts, or Frenchman Gael Monfils, who Cilic last beat in 2009.
Federer and Monfils were set to highlight Thursday’s night session.
Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori
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