Croatian Marin Cilic went through a dry run for next month's Davis Cup final on Friday as he crushed an Argentine opponent with ease to reach the semi-finals of the Japan Open and boost his chances of qualifying for the season-ending championships.
While the 89th-ranked Juan Monaco is unlikely to figure heavily on a squad which will be headed by Juan Martin del Potro, victory will still boost the confidence of Cilic, who hopes to help his nation to a second Davis title after a maiden win in 2005.
The fourth seed Cilic hammered Monaco 7-5, 6-1 to reach the Tokyo final four, finishing with a backhand passing winner. Cilic will play his semi-final against fifth seed David Goffin after the Belgian defeated Joao Sousa 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Sixth seed Nick Kyrgios also turned in an efficient win at the Ariake Colosseum, beating Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2.
The colourful Australian is chasing his third title of the year and stands 36-14 on the season as he faces his sixth semi-final of 2016.
Cilic will be point man for Croatia in the November 25-27 Davis final in Zagreb. He is also striving to reach one of the eight spots in the ATP World Tour Finals, to be played in London during the week before the Davis showdown.
Cilic currently stands provisionally 10th in the race to the eight-man field. By winning the Tokyo title he can move to ninth in the chase.
Monaco has been troubled by a run of injuries including wrist, shoulder, back and knee injuries; he was aiming for his first hard-court semi-final in more than two years.
"It was a tough first set. I was up a break but I made some unforced errors. It was not easy to hit the ball past him," Cilic said.
"But after I broke him early in the second set, he was more or less out of the match. That is always a good way to finish it."
Cilic will have revenge in mind when he plays Goffin, who has beaten him twice this year.
"He's playing well, I need to take a different approach than in our other matches. My serve was a bit up and down today, so I need to bring my good serve to this match."
Friday, March 18, 2016 - 00:42
Sunday, September 18, 2016 - 20:20
Saturday, October 8, 2016 - 10:11