Shanghai Flashback: Rafael Nadal Edges Cilic, Sets Up Epic Clash with Roger Federer!

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Shanghai Flashback: Rafael Nadal Edges Cilic, Sets Up Epic Clash with Roger Federer!

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In a thrilling semi-final showdown at the 2017 Shanghai Masters, Rafael Nadal showcased his unwavering determination as he reached his 46th Masters 1000 final, marking his best performance in China since 2009. The world’s top-ranked player faced off against the formidable Marin Cilic and emerged victorious with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 triumph, a battle that lasted two hours and 11 minutes.

Nadal’s stellar performance in the semi-final propelled him towards the title match against none other than his arch-rival, Roger Federer. Rafa’s dominance in crucial moments of both sets secured his fifth consecutive win over Marin. Notably, Nadal’s efficiency from the baseline and his ability to fend off three out of five break opportunities proved to be the difference-maker.

On the return, Nadal exhibited remarkable prowess, creating 12 break chances and converting three of them, ultimately sealing the deal in straight sets. His stats reflected his control and precision, with 23 winners and 19 unforced errors, whereas Cilic struggled with a negative 31-40 ratio, opting for a more aggressive approach but making more mistakes in the process.

Despite Cilic’s impressive number of aces, he couldn’t establish a significant advantage in points that ended in four strokes or less. Moreover, Nadal outperformed Cilic in mid-range rallies, leaving fans on the edge of their seats as the two titans battled it out. The outcome of both sets hinged on the final stages, and it was Nadal’s brilliance that allowed him to avoid a decider, thus conserving his energy for the much-anticipated title clash against Federer.

The action kicked off with Nadal’s unwavering determination, creating substantial opportunities to grab an early lead by securing three break points in each of Marin’s initial two service games. The Croat, however, held on, taking ten minutes to close the first game with an ace and defending his service at 1-1, keeping him ahead after a grueling 23 minutes.

Afterward, Marin settled into a more comfortable rhythm, patiently waiting for an opening on the return. The golden opportunity presented itself when Nadal served to remain in the set at 4-5, granting Cilic three set points. Nadal responded with two service winners, and Cilic faltered, netting a straightforward forehand, allowing the Spaniard to level the score at 5-5 and extend the set.

Cilic was dealt a severe blow in the following game, committing a forehand error to give Nadal two break chances. The Croat then netted a backhand, falling behind 6-5. Nadal successfully closed the set in the 12th game, concluding an intense 67-minute battle and breathing a sigh of relief after escaping the ninth-game scare.

Nadal’s prospects brightened further in the second set when he broke Cilic’s serve in the third game. Rafa went on to confirm the break in the following game, edging closer to victory. However, he momentarily lost momentum in the sixth game, netting an easy volley and allowing Cilic to break back, narrowing the scoreline.

Undeterred, Nadal quickly regained his composure, breaking Cilic’s serve in the ninth game, securing a 5-4 advantage. Cilic, displaying unwavering determination of his own, saved a match point in the tenth game and broke back with a brilliant forehand down the line winner, leveling the score at 5-5.

As the tiebreak got underway with Nadal leading 4-3, the Spaniard asserted his dominance by scoring two mini-breaks and setting up three match points. With a service winner, Nadal converted the first match point, earning the right to face Roger Federer in the title match and pursue his first Shanghai Masters crown.

Reference

www.tennisworldusa.org

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