Cilic Advances As Nadal Retires with Injury in Fifth Set, Edmund Upends No. 3 Dimitrov To Reach Australian Open Semis
(January 23, 2018) Marin Cilic has reached his first Australian Open semifinal since 2010 when world No. 1 Rafael Nadal was forced to retire with a hip injury with the Croatian leading 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-2, 2-0.
Nadal, who won the title in 2009, began feeling pain in his hip in the fourth set. He took a medical time out in the fourth set and in the fifth set. He appeared to be limping and retired after two games in the final set.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor, always gives his best, and it was very unfortunate for him to not finish this match,” Cilic said in his on-court interview with Jim Courier after the match.
This is only the second time Nadal has retired from a match during a major tournament.
Nadal who limped into the media interview room, talked about his injury during his news conference: “I can’t say how bad it is. It happened just minutes ago, it’s difficult to say with this injuries. I’m very sorry, I can’t remember now, I started to feel the muscle tired in the third, then one drop shot in the fourth, something happened.”
“Tomorrow afternoon we’ll let you know what happened, now we don’t know, I need MRI, now it is impossible to say.”
“Tough moments. Is not the first time an opportunity that is gone for me. I am a positive person, and I can be positive, but today is an opportunity lost to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and fight for an important title for me, no?
“In this tournament already happened a couple of times in my life, so it’s really I don’t want to say frustration, but is really tough to accept, especially after a tough December that I had without having a chance to start in Abu Dhabi and then Brisbane.
“Yeah, I worked hard to be here. We did all the things that we believed were the right things to do to be ready. I think I was ready. I was playing okay. Yeah, I was playing a match that anything could happen: could win, could lose. I’m being honest. He was playing good, too. That’s the real thing.
“But I was fighting for it. I was two sets to one up. Yeah, just accept, recover, come back home, stay with my people, and keep going. That’s all. Always in the tough moments, even if difficult to think about it, there is so many positive things that happened in my career.
“It’s a negative thing, but I don’t going to complain because happened to me more than others. But on other hand I was winning more than almost anyone. That’s the real thing. But who knows, if I didn’t have all these injuries…”
Nadal adds to the list of top players hampered by injuries. Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is back after six months, still nursing an elbow injury. 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka returned to the tour from knee surgery skipping the second half of 2017, losing in the second round. Five-time finalist Andy Murray underwent hip surgery just before the Australian Open.
“In the end very unfortunate because Rafa is always fighting really hard, always giving the best on the court,” said Cilic. “I guess in the pre-season he had some troubles with the injuries, but he came here prepared really, really well. He played a very good tournament. Obviously very sad for him to finish the way he did.”
Unfortunate scenes here with the world No.1 Rafael #Nadal retiring hurt in the QF ?@Cilic_Marin progresses through to the SF. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/IEjPruzvdi
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2018
It was a day on unexpected wins for the men as earlier in the day Kyle Edmund advanced to the final four.
Kyle Edmund became the sixth British man in the Open Era to reach the semifinals of a major when he upset third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund said. “I’m 23 years old, my first Grand Slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world. To beat a quality of player like Grigor. Of course, all these things I’m aware of. They’re great feelings. You don’t obviously play in the semifinals of a Grand Slam every day, or a quarters like today.
“So, yeah, I just try to enjoy it as much as possible, like I said. I knew I was in a good place. There’s no reason why my tennis wasn’t good enough to win. It’s obviously about going out there and doing it.”
Edmund was the only British male player in the main draw when Andy Murray withdrew to have hip surgery. Murray has lost five times in Australian Open final over the years.
Edmind dictated play, nailing 46 winners to Dimitrov’s 32.
“Kyle deserves all the respect,” sad the Bulgaria who beat Edmund in Brisbane two weeks ago. “He deserved to win, simple as that. He’s been working so hard the past months. I’ve seen that. Played him a couple of times.
“I take full responsibility of my match today. There’s no point for me to say what I did wrong because I can sit here and talk about it, but it’s all about him right now. He’s the winner.”
Questioned about whether he was drained physically from his fourth round match against Nick Kyrgios, Dimitrov said: “I would say all the matches out here, especially I think from day one I was not playing well. It took me a lot of work to get back to playing a decent match once again.
“Against Nick, for sure, you played the crowd, you played him, you played your own expectations. There’s a lot of components that come into the game.
“In the same time, I was at least happy I found the way. But all that behind the scenes, what you do in order for you to feel better on the court, takes a lot out of you. Doesn’t matter how fit I am, I think also mentally I was just a little bit tired. With each match, you’re draining up. You try things the next day to kind of get better, get into a better shape, in a better head space.
“Yeah, today was just one of those days that I just couldn’t find a way. Simple as that. You have days like that. In a way, I need to also see what exactly had happened. I mean, I kind of felt okay, but still there’s a lot of factors out there right now.”
Asked about what made the difference in the match, Edmund said: “Not too much. The match in Brisbane was tight. Not too much in it. Today was sort of similar. I don’t know. Maybe just in the key moments I maybe stepped up well and was brave, really went for my shots, and they came good. I believed that I could pull off some good stuff.
“The last two sets were sort of more about that. I started well in the first set. That was more of my start, though, to the match that got me that set.
“In the second, to break him, then serve it out, to play a good game like that… Okay, I broke, got broken back, but I thought I played good tennis, took the ball on when I needed to, and it came good for me.
To serve out the match was also really good for me under that sort of pressure, I guess.”
For me, 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, played great tennis. He’s also very entertaining to watch. Big hitter, great serve, great forehand. Plays great on the hard courts.
“For me, another good opportunity. Obviously on the paper probably easier to play him than Rafa. But still he deserved a lot to be here at the spot where he is.
“For me a big focus is to continue with my own game. I cannot influence him much across the net, but going to try to take care of my things on my part of the court. Hopefully I’m going to have another great match.”
More to follow…