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Struggling Rafa fights through the Cilic test

Varun Khanna
475   //    11 Aug 2018, 14:31 IST

Toronto once again hasn't disappointed as the fourth Quarterfinal played between Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic was as entertaining as expected. It was not a comfortable match for the 17 time Grand Slam champion as he anticipated stating "It would be impossible to beat Marin Cilic if he is not at his best." This was the first match between the two after the Australian Open quarterfinals earlier this year, Nadal took a perfect revenge of their last meeting beating the dangerous Croatian 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, through to the semi-finals as he continues his Roger Cup campaign and extending his head to head against Cilic 6-2, 5 of which came on Hardcourts.

In the first set, it was the deadly Croatian who dismantled the World no. 1, 6-2, with his ferocious forehand and backhand winners. It was a completely one-sided set as the score suggest as Nadal couldn't do anything to get through the 2014 US Open champion. With only 49% of first serve percentage and two double faults, Nadal was broken twice in the first set. Cilic was in complete control throughout the first set and was at his peak with a perfect combination of service, forehand, and backhand as it was one of the best sets he has ever played.

In the second set Nadal was more aggressive and stable as he was a break up serving for the set 5-3 but a loose game by Nadal gave Cilic a chance to serve to stay in the set but Cilic with a double fault and overhead smash miss lost his service game with Nadal taking the set 6-4.

The final set was an equal one with both the players hitting perfect groundstrokes and defending their service game till 4-4. Nadal serving well in the third set didn't give any chance for Cilic to break his serve. Nadal got a chance to break Cilic earlier in the set but couldn't grab it. Cilic was serving to stay in the match as Nadal was leading 5-4. By stats it was looking like Cilic would get through his serve but the 17 time Grand slam champion had other plans as he looked calm and stable earning 3 break points and match points for himself. Cilic saved two match points with a ferocious backhand winner in pressure but an unforced error by the Croatian couldn't save the third match point with Nadal winning the match after 2 hours and 20 minutes of a marathon run.

With this victory, the 32 time ATP 1000 champion has become the first player on the tour to secure his place at the Nitto ATP Finals. It is for the 14th time in his career that the Spaniard has qualified for the Final tournament of the season. Nadal had to work hard to win this match as he is eyeing for his 33rd ATP 1000 Master title and his 4th Rogers cup title. Nadal extending the gap between him and the Swiss Maestro Roger Federer in ATP rankings will face the Russian Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals who is coming through a comfortable victory over Robin Haase 6-1,6-3 in the quarterfinals. The two will meet only for the 4th time (2nd time on hard court) in their career with Nadal winning all the 3 previous meetings between the two. It would be a tough test for the World no. 38 to go through the finals as the World no. 1 looks in good shape and has gained a lot of confidence after two back to back solid matches.


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Varun Khanna
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