Nadal into Rogers Cup SFs after overcoming red-hot Cilic
World number one Rafael Nadal stood tall as he rallied to outlast sixth seed Marin Cilic for a spot in the ATP Rogers Cup semi-finals.
Nadal looked in trouble after being outplayed and overpowered by a red-hot Cilic in the opening set of Friday's quarter-final in Toronto.
But top seed and three-time Rogers Cup champion Nadal stormed home to see off the challenge of Cilic at the ATP 1000 tournament.
The pair were meeting for the first time since January's Australian Open quarter-final, when Cilic benefited from Nadal's retirement in an absorbing battle.
Cilic – runner-up at Melbourne Park – was virtually unstoppable and unplayable in a masterclass of ball striking in the first set.
The Croatian's powerful hitting troubled Nadal – who was pushed back beyond the baseline – as Cilic took a commanding 4-1 lead with a pair of breaks thanks to a rocket forehand.
Cilic had five chances to close out the set on Nadal's serve but the 17-time grand slam champion managed to save them all, though it only delayed the inevitable – the former converting at the eighth time of asking during the next game.
Nadal regrouped in the second, nullifying Cilic's power and precision as the Spanish star returned to his best to lead 4-1 and 5-2.
Cilic, however, refused to surrender by winning two successive games and breaking Nadal in the ninth game
But Cilic quickly spiralled out of control – a routine smash sailing past the baseline to help Nadal force a third and deciding set.
That moment unsettled Cilic and while he continued to fight until the very end, he never reached the heights of the first set as Nadal broke to secure a semi-final clash against Karen Khachanov.