Header Ads

Cilic Upsets Nadal, Faces Edmund In Australian Open SFs

Marin Cilic competed with absolute focus on Tuesday night to overcome World No. 1 and 2009 champion Rafael Nadal for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The sixth-seeded Croatian booked his place in a fifth Grand Slam championship semi-final (2-2 record), where he will meet Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, after Nadal retired due to an injury in the fifth set. Cilic was leading 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 2-0 after three hours and 47 minutes of play.

Nadal, who had been bidding to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the second successive year, received on-court treatment for a right leg injury at 1-4 in the fourth set. "[It's] really unfortunate for Rafa," Cilic told Jim Courier, in an on-court interview. "He is an unbelievable competitor. Always gives his best and it's very unfortunate for him to finish this way."

The 29-year-old Cilic hit 83 winners in total, including 20 aces and converted five of his 19 break point opportunities to record the 275th hard-court match win of his career.

“[I’m] extremely pleased with my own game," said Cilic. "Even in the other matches before this one, I played great tennis [at a] very, very high level. I had a tough match against [Pablo] Carreno Busta in the last round. Then today, the beginning of the match was not the best.”

“I only realised [about the injury] when [Nadal] took a medical time-out. It was at 4-1 in the fourth [set]. In the end, [it was] very unfortunate, because Rafa is always fighting really hard, always giving his best on the court. I guess in the pre-season he had some troubles with the injuries, but he came here [and] prepared really, really well. He played a very good tournament. Obviously, [it’s] very sad for him to finish the way he did.”

Marin Cilic advances to the semi-finals of the Australian Open when top seed Rafael Nadal retires in the fifth set.
With his five matches at Melbourne Park over the past nine days, Nadal will remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings when the new standings are published on Monday. While Cilic stays at No. 6 with his first victory over Nadal since the 2009 China Open in Beijing, should the powerful Croatian beat Edmund and then go on to capture his second major title (2014 US Open) he would rise to No. 3.
You May Also Like: Read & Watch: Edmund Powers Into Maiden Slam Semi-Final

Cilic will now prepare to meet Edmund for their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, four months on from their Rolex Shanghai Masters clash, which the Croatian won in straight sets.

“I'm going to prepare for that match like for any other one,” said Cilic. “Kyle had amazing run here. A lot of tough matches [and] played great tennis. He's also very entertaining to watch: [a] big hitter, great serve, great forehand. He plays great on the hard courts.

“For me, a big focus is to continue with my own game. I cannot influence him, much, across the net, but I’m going to try to take care of my things on my side of the court. Hopefully I'm going to have another great match.”

First Set
Cilic appeared to grow in confidence, when saving five break points at 2-3 in the first set as Nadal committed three backhand errors. The Spanish star then saved a break point in the next game, only for the pressure to shift back to Cilic at 3-4. Nadal brought up three break points with a backhand down the line and while Cilic struck an ace at 0/40, the Croatian hit a forehand wide on the next point. Nadal later converted his third set point opportunity with a whipped forehand winner to take the hard-fought 54-minute opener.

Second Set
With his sights set on reaching a fifth major semi-final, Cilic came through a tough hold at 1-1 in the second set, when he saved one break point with a smash at 30/40. But two games later Nadal’s courtcraft proved to be too much. Raising his playing level at 2-2, the top seed fired a forehand winner down the line to leave Cilic at 15/40. After incurring a time violation, Cilic struck a double fault to hand Nadal the break.

However, Cilic was not to be overawed. The World No. 6 got himself back in the match, winning four straight games and opening his shoulders to strike a number of winners (16 for the set). Nadal, who had twice come within one point of a 4-2 lead, had no answer to the devastating barrage. Cilic broke for a 5-3 advantage with a forehand that sent Nadal out wide, then, in the next game, completed the set with an ace.

Third Set
Cilic found his service rhythm in the third set, which saw Nadal save break points in the third (one) and seventh games (two). Pushing Nadal behind the baseline, Cilic started to play aggressively and made inroads. At 3-3, Nadal led 40/15, but dropped his racquet on a backhand volley, with Cilic deep behind the baseline. The Spaniard eventually won the game and, at the change of ends, handed a ball boy three of his racquets to be re-strung. At 4-5, 30/40, Cilic saved one set point by remaining aggressive and attacking the net for a forehand volley winner. Although Cilic regrouped from 0/2 in the tie-break, with two backhand crosscourt winners, Nadal hung tough and sealed the set with a smash.

Fourth Set
Cilic looked to make a move early in the fourth set, when he won the first six points. Targeting Nadal’s backhand, Cilic finally pierced the Spaniard’s armour at 1-2, 30/40 with a forehand winner to break serve. Nadal received on-court treatment for a right hip/upper thigh complaint and took tablets, after the fifth game. Upon the resumption of play, Nadal’s movement was impaired and he attempted to keep the points short. Although Nadal managed to save break point at 1-4, 30/40 with a backhand volley winner, Cilic was galvanised. Two games later, with Cilic leading 5-2 and Nadal serving at Ad-out, the Croatian struck his 77th winner of the match (a forehand) to take the pair’s seventh meeting to a deciding set.

Fifth Set
After 13 minutes of play in the fifth set, which saw Cilic take a 2-0 lead on his sixth break point opportunity, Nadal ended his fight against the pain and walked to the chair umpire to retire.


No comments

Powered by Blogger.