Marin Cilic reflects on thrilling US Open win over Alex de Minaur

It took eight match points before Marin Cilic won his third round match against Alex de Minaur

It took eight match points before Marin Cilic won his third round match against Alex de Minaur

Cilic rallied behind his big serve but De Minaur made the Croatian work hard for every point all the way to the bitter end at 2.22 a.m. local time (0622 GMT), only a few minutes short of the latest ever finish at the U.S. Open.

De Minaur saved five match points in the eighth game, another in the ninth and a further one in the last game before Cilic finally delivered the killer blow.

Runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon past year and again at the 2018 Australian Open, Cilic was finally the last man standing after mounting a ferocious fightback. Kyrgios freely admits to lacking concentration at times; De Minaur, however, rarely lets a game - let alone a set - go by with a lapse in focus.

"A great learning experience for me", the Australian called it.

Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champ, dropped the first two sets and seemed headed home from Flushing Meadows.

The Croatian was getting frustrated by de Minaur's exceptional defense and movement early on in the match. De Minaur broke there to get back on serve, then held for 5-all. But finally, on his eighth match point, Cilic hit a crosscourt forehand victor to seal a Round of 16 date vs. David Goffin.

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"Didn't manage to finish it off", de Minaur said, "but I left it all out there".

His reward is a fourth-round date on Monday with Belgian 10th seed David Goffin.

"Alex showed incredible fighting spirit, he played his heart out", said Cilic who had squandered a 5-2 lead in the final set.

Maybe the mental aspect of tennis, though, the focus that De Minaur has in matches, is what separates him the most from his 23-year-old countryman. "I was ahead 5-2 and there was some wonderful tennis", said the big Croatian after his sixth career comeback from two sets to love down.

"He played some awesome tennis and he really was a couple of points away from the victory and I was just a little bit lucky today".

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