UMAG, Croatia – Marin Cilic will try to become the first home winner of the Croatia Open in 22 years when he takes on Marcel Granollers of Spain in the tournament final Sunday.
The second-seeded Cilic beat defending champion Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals Saturday, while Granollers upset top-seeded countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-7 (5).
With a win in the final, Cilic will become the first Croat since 1990 to win his home tournament. He has a 4-1 record against Granollers, who won their last clash in Valencia last year and is seeking his first career title.
Cilic started slowly as Dolgopolov broke twice for a 5-4 lead, but the Croat broke back amid a six-game winning streak which put him up a set with a 3-0 lead in the second.
Last year, Cilic lost to Dolgopolov in the Umag final.
"Dolgopolov is a really tough opponent, he proved that in the beginning of the first set," Cilic said. "But I knew I had to be patient, I knew it would stop."
Granollers, "is really great," Cilic said. "He knows exactly what should be done."
"(The final) won't be easy but I hope there will be a happy ending for me on Sunday."
Fourth-seeded Granollers broke twice to win the first set against Verdasco. Verdasco reached 5-3 in the second but Granollers forced a tiebreaker. Verdasco, the 2008 Umag champion, carried momentum into the third set by breaking immediately but Granollers broke back and never lost a game the rest of the way.
"Today I played against a very good player. Fernando is one of the best in the world," Granollers said. "That makes me even happier, I am very pleased with the way I played today."