By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marin Cilic made a strong start in defense of his U.S. Open title by powering past Argentine qualifier Guido Pella 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3) in Monday's opening day at the U.S. Open.
The ninth-seeded Cilic registered 13 aces and seven service winners in dismissing 94th-ranked Pella, who fought gamely and was broken only twice in the two-hour match at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
"I think Guido played really, really good today," Cilic said in an on-court interview. "He was causing me trouble with his serve. Today was a bit gusty so it was not easy to put my returns in, but I managed somehow and I was pretty happy with my serve."
The 26-year-old Croatian raised his game in the tiebreakers, to avoid the fate suffered by his 2014 finals' opponent, Japan's fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who fell in five sets to Benoit Paire of France.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)