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No. 3 Cilic defeats two-time NCAA singles champ Devvarman to win Chennai Open in India

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Third-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic (pictured) claimed his second career ATP singles title on Sunday by defeating wild card entrant and World No. 202 Somdev Devvarman, 6-4, 7-6(3), to win the Chennai Open title in India. Both singles titles Cilic has won to date have been on hard courts, winning his maiden title in New Haven in August 2008.

In an exciting 52-minute opening set, Devvarman had plenty of opportunities to take the lead, holding three break points in both the fifth and seventh games of the set, only to see the 6’6” Croatian eventually hold serve both times and win the set, 6-4. Things looked to be headed south for Devvarman when he got broken at love in the second game of the second set, but the former University of Virginia two-time NCAA singles champion responded by breaking back and sending the match to a tiebreak. The 20-year-old Cilic was able to use his big match tournament experience and jump out to an early 4-1 lead in the tiebreak and clinch the title in exactly two hours. Cilic smashed nine aces compared to only one by Devvarman and allowed the 23-year-old rising star from India only one service break in 10 opportunities.

“I've been working very hard during this off-season and I'm glad that the work has paid off so fast,” said Cilic. “I'm feeling well even if today wasn't my best performance during the week. But I played well at crucial moments, which is the most important thing.”

Currently ranked No. 27 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, Cilic lost only one set this week, losing 6-0 in the second set of his quarterfinal match against Serbian Janko Tipsarevic. For winning the title, Cilic earned a champion’s paycheck worth $73,000. Devvarman, who turned professional last year, was appearing in just his sixth ATP-level main draw and was vying to become the first Indian player to win an ATP singles title since Leander Paes won the Newport title in the summer of 1998. He was also looking to become the first former collegiate player to win an ATP singles title since Sargis Sargsian in 1997.

“This was a great week for me and I hope to play more tour events in the upcoming months,” said Devvarman. “It is my goal to move up further in the rankings and to become a better player.”

After an astonishing week of tennis that led to a runner-up performance, Devvarman walks away with a $37,000 paycheck, the biggest singles check of his career. Devvarman will move to approximately No. 153 in the new rankings that will be released on Monday morning. This upcoming week Devvarman is entered in the Australian Open qualifying tournament, looking to become one of the 16 players to earn main draw spots for the first grand slam event of the 2009 season.

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