The Croatian star, who did not drop a set all week, struck seven aces to claim victory in the Stuttgart final that lasted one hour and 50 minutes.
Aged 32, Cilic is the third-oldest Stuttgart champion in Open Era (since April 1968) behind Roger Federer, 36, in 2018 and 33-year-old Barry Phillips-Moore in 1971. The World No. 47 is the lowest-ranked Stuttgart champion since No. 85 Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2011.
Cilic won 100 per cent of his first-serve points in three of his five matches this week and is now 3-3 in grass-court finals (19-14 overall). He will now travel to The Queen’s Club in London for the cinch Championships, which he has won twice in 2012 and 2018, and hope to improve upon his 15-10 match record in 2021.
In a lively start to their third ATP Head2Head meeting, both Cilic and #NextGenATP star Auger-Aliassime fended off three break points in their opening service games. Cilic was aggressive off the forehand side throughout the first set as he looked to manoeuvre Auger-Aliassime around the court. At 5-5, Cilic converted his ninth break point to move ahead. While he failed to serve it out, the former World No. 3 swept through the tie-break that ended when Auger-Aliassime hit a forehand long.
Both players were dominant on serve in the second set, with Auger-Aliassime winning 64 per cent (7/11) of his first-service points, while Cilic claimed 90 per cent (9/10) of points on his second serve. The match turned in the eighth game when Cilic broke to lead 5-3, with Auger-Aliassime unable to deal with his opponent’s powerful groundstrokes.
Cilic won at least one title in 11 straight seasons between 2008 and 2018, saving a championship point against Novak Djokovic in his 32nd and most recent final at The Queen’s Club in June 2018.
On defeat, Auger-Aliassime said: “Today I am not facing a final, I am facing Marin Cilic, it is two different things. There has been times when I have not played my best then I felt I was not playing well but this time around, I felt like it was close but overall I think he was a better player overall. This week, I don’t think, if I had played Marin in the quarter-finals or semi-finals it could have been the same result but definitely today I am facing a better player than me who deserved to win.”
Auger-Aliassime drops to an 0-8 record in ATP Tour finals. He also finished runner-up at the Murray River Open (l. to Evans) in February. He will next compete in Halle where he faces Hubert Hurkacz in the NOVENTI OPEN first round.