Cilic brings Nadal’s Beijing run to an end
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:47
Rafael Nadal saw his impressive 14-match unbeaten run at the China Open ended in emphatic fashion with a 6-1 6-3 semi-final defeat against Marin Cilic.
The No.1 seed, previously unbeaten in Beijing having claimed Olympic gold at the National Tennis Center in 2008 and winning the China Open in 2005, had no answer to the Croatian’s huge-hitting game in the pair’s first encounter.
Cilic dominated from the outset, securing two breaks of serve in each set to set up a final showdown with Novak Djokovic, who beat Robin Soderling 6-3 6-3 in the other semi-final.
That result ensures Djokovic will move above Andy Murray in the world rankings following next week’s Shanghai Masters 1000 and reclaim the world No.3 spot he lost to the Scot in May.
“It was another great win,” said the Serbian, who stretched his win tally in 2009 to 62. “The result is not really a picture of the whole match. He’s a big server and a big hitter and was aggressive throughout.
“I had to be very patient and take my chances when they came. I hope the title will be in my hands tomorrow.”
For that to happen Djokovic must beat the hard-hitting 21-year-old for a fourth time in his career, though the Croatian represents a formidable prospect in a season in which he has already claimed three ATP titles.
“I played good tennis today,” said Cilic. “I was hitting well, I didn’t give him too much time to adjust.”
“I’ve played Djokovic three times and lost three times but this time I’m playing good. I believe if I can put in a performance like I did today, I’m sure I have a shot.”
If he can recall the form that saw him inflict Nadal’s heaviest defeat since a 6-0 6-1 loss to Mikhail Youzhny in January 2008, the Croatian will have a chance.
Cilic powered through the opening set with six aces and set up match points on two separate occasions in game eight of the second with unreturnable serves.
Nadal saved them both and broke to stay in the match at 3-5, but the world No.15 broke back immediately, seal victory with a flat forehand winner on his fifth match point.
The Spaniard was competing for the first time since the US Open in which he struggled with an abdominal injury.
“Cilic is good, is young and has a very good serve but if you are losing 6-1 6-3 there are a lot of things you are doing wrong. Mentally I probably wasn’t there,” conceded Nadal, who will head to Shanghai as top seed in Roger Federer’s absence.
“He played very fast at the beginning, played very well. It was very difficult for me, he was serving unbelievable, returning very fast and playing winners almost all the time.
“The worst thing for me is when I had a little bit of a chance to come back into the match in the second set I didn’t play well.”
In the doubles, last year’s singles champion Andy Roddick and Mark Knowles will face Bob and Mike Bryan in the final after posting a 4-6 6-2 10-7 win over Lukas Dlouhy and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The Bryans beat French pair Julien Benneteau and Jeremy Chardy 6-2 6-1 in the other semi-final.