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Nadal Blasts Into Second Shanghai Final

Rafael Nadal was made to work, but the top seed advanced to the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on a crisp Saturday evening in the Chinese metropolis.

Nadal overcame a dogged effort from Marin Cilic to secure the semi-final victory 7-5, 7-6(3), reaching his 111th final and 10th of the year. It marks the fifth time in his career that he has contested at least 10 title matches in a single season.

Rafael Nadal is in search of his first Shanghai crown.
"Very happy. Of course I played I think a very high level of tennis," Nadal said. "[It] was a great match again. I don't know what he said, if he already talked or what he's going to say later, I don't know, but in my opinion, he played well, too. Was a great, good quality of tennis this afternoon."

With the victory, the 871st of his career, Nadal moves past Andre Agassi for solo sixth place on the Open Era wins list. He will bid for a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title against either Roger Federer or Juan Martin del Potro.

On Saturday, Cilic unleashed his forehand with punishing blows to break down the Nadal defence, but could not sustain the level in the critical moments. Nadal benefitted from 40 unforced errors, while striking 23 winners of his own, to reach his second Shanghai final. He previously finished runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko in 2009. The Croatian credited Nadal for his play.

"I was hitting unbelievable shots off the ground, and against other guys they would be winners," Cilic said. "Or just with serving, serving well, that would be either an ace or winner, and he makes you play another shot."

Cilic's serve came under fire immediately and he would be forced to save six break points in his opening two service games. The fourth seed would survive the onslaught, but evenutally conceded the critical break with the set on the line. Cilic squandered a trio of set points at 5-all and Nadal capitalised in the very next game, seizing the initial break and closing out the opener after 67 minutes.

The pair exchanged breaks midway through the second set, but it was Nadal who came up clutch at the business end. The top seed would strike the shot of the match at 4-4 deuce - a running forehand winner off a Cilic sky hook backhand. His Croatian opponent did well to fight back with Nadal serving for the final at 5-4, crushing a forehand winner down the line to draw level. But Nadal hit all the right buttons in the ensuing tie-break, firing a service winner to close it out after two hours and 12 minutes.

"We are at the highest level of our sport, so nobody wins easy," Nadal said. "If you want to compete in the most important events of the year and try to go for the victories, for sure you're going to have tough matches, and today was one of them."

With an eye on year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the Manacor native extended his win streak to 16 straight, having most recently lifted trophies at the US Open and China Open in Beijing. He is now 5-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Cilic, earning his second win of the season (Acapulco SF).

Cilic, meanwhile, remains in search of a coveted spot in the Nitto ATP Finals. Currently in fifth position in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with 3,535 points, he is on the brink of punching his ticket to The O2. The 29 year old was appearing in his fifth semi-final in his last six tournaments entered.

Source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/shanghai-2017-saturday-nadal-cilic

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