Rafael Nadal Rallies Past Marin Cilic in Toronto, Becomes First to Qualify for Year End ATP Finals
(August 10, 2018) TORONTO – Another Masters tournament, and another Masters semifinal for Rafael Nadal. He edged past Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 Saturday night in front of a raucous Toronto crowd at the Rogers Cup. He will face Karen Khachanov Saturday night at 8pm Eastern time.
The match started as a very one sided affair as Cilic was returning incredibly well, and using his forehand to push Nadal around and open up space for winners. As Nadal struggled to hold serve, he had an even more difficult time returning, winning just five return points in the first set.
Slowly but surely Nadal rediscovered his form and his depth on the forehand wing, and some nervous errors from Cilic at key times allowed him to break in both sets to eventually take the match. The Spaniard was visibly relieved after the match and knew he was in for a tough comeback after dropping the first set. Nadal also becomes the first man to qualify for the World Tour Finals at the end of the season.
“Being in semifinals is great news at the start of the hard court season in a good way,” Nadal said during his news conference. “And winning three good matches in the first Master 1000, yeah, so important for me.
“And especially the way that he played in that first set was unstoppable, no? So I resisted. I play with the right tactic. I tried to find my solutions, but was so, so difficult.
“So that’s why it was an important celebration, no? It means a lot to me to be in the semifinals.”
“I’m in semifinals, man. That’s the most important thing,” Nadal continued. “I said before at the tournament, no, I was not — I didn’t practice a lot before here. I needed some period off.
“And coming here is always difficult. Was the first match for me on — first tournament on hard after a while.
“And all the facts makes the tournament difficult. But being honest, semifinals is a great result. Is a Masters 1000. And when 19 of the top 20 players have been playing here, so being in semifinals is great news. And without playing more or less well it’s impossible to be in that round.
“Already won a couple of good matches against tough opponents. So let’s see how the things go tomorrow. A tough opponent. He’s playing well. He’s dangerous. He hit the ball so hard too. So let’s see.
“I need to keep playing aggressive and keep serving well. Then we’ll see. I’m happy about the things and I’m happy about my result, and it’s an opportunity to keep going.”
Both Saturday semifinals will feature similar story lines, as the seasoned veterans Nadal and Kevin Anderson take on the lesser known exciting youngsters Khachanov and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively. Khachanov easily beat Robin Haase earlier in the evening, 6-3, 6-1 to advance to his first ever Masters semifinal.
All photos by Nida Alibhai.