Marin Cilic didn’t have things all his own way at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia when Andrea Basso and the home crowd ensured it was far from easy.
In a match featuring seven breaks of serve, ninth seed Cilic recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the first set and a second-set comeback from 25-year-old Basso, making his ATP Tour debut, for a 6-1, 7-5 first-round victory over one hour and 39 minutes.
The Croatian, who has recovered from food poisoning that prohibited him from competing in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals against Novak Djokovic, tightened up his game at 5-5 in the second set, returning with depth to break Basso en route to his eighth win in 14 matches this season.
Last year's Rome semi-finalist awaits the winner of Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.
Earlier in the day, Moldova’s Radu Albot knocked out Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-2 in 87 minutes for a meeting against Italian No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini at the Foro Italico. Albot’s best performance in his seven previous ATP Masters 1000 tournament appearances came in March at the BNP Paribas Open, where he advanced to the third round (l. to Edmund).