By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Second seed Daniil Medvedev overturned a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to grind down former runner-up Marin Cilic in a bruising third-round clash at Wimbledon on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Russian looked flat in the opening two sets as Cilic used his powerful serve and forehand to great effect but Medvedev calmly wrestled back control to neutralise his opponent's game and claim a 6-7(3) 3-6 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory.
Having enjoyed his longest career runs at this year's Australian Open (runner-up) and French Open (quarter-final), Medvedev has now posted a new Wimbledon best by reaching the last 16 where he will face Poland's 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz.
Cilic edged the opening set on a tiebreak and when he bludgeoned a forehand winner to carve out a set point in the second, and was then gifted a Medvedev double-fault, it looked like the Croatian 32nd seed was in total control.
But the heat went out of Cilic's game as the evening dragged on and Medvedev patiently clawed his way back from the brink.
The Russian broke serve at 2-2 in the third set when Cilic missed a forehand down the line and got the double break when he chased down a dropshot to hit a deftly-angled winner.
It was a similar story in the third set as Medvedev began to dictate the points with his relentless accuracy and by the time the fifth set started Cilic looked totally deflated, asking the chair umpire how much light there was left for play.
The 32-year-old Croat perhaps wanted the roof to be closed to halt the Russian's charge but Medvedev was ruthless in the decider as he stormed into a 5-0 lead.
Medvedev double-faulted twice on match points in the next game as he briefly lost focus to give Cilic a slender lifeline.
Suddenly Cilic looked fired-up again as the crowd got behind the 2017 finalist but Medvedev put down the mini rebellion with a powerful first serve to end the contest.
With Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev already through, it is only the third time in the professional era that a Grand Slam tournament has had three Russian men in the last 16.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)