I didn’t watch the match in the overnight hours here in the U.S., but wow! Marin Cilic pounded on Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-3 in the Beijing semifinals. For Cilic, easily one of his biggest and best career match wins.
“From the beginning of the match to end I didn’t let my level of play drop,” said Cilic. “I was aggressive when I had to be. In the second set when he came back the match wasn’t easy, but I think I kept with what I did in the first set and the best thing was that I didn’t back off and I was just [as] stubborn with my style of play.”
Nadal, who had destroyed Marat Safin just a day earlier, was never in the match. Cilic raced out to a 5-0 first set lead and then broke right away in the second set to maintain control handing Rafa his first career loss in Beijing in 15 matches.
“He played well and it was very difficult to play for me,” said Nadal. “I had a chance to come back in the match and I didn’t play very well. He didn’t serve that well. He gave me many chances to play and I was under pressure in the first game of the second set. I had a lot of pressure. I can do better next time. I must do.”
For Nadal it was also another bad loss. Since his return in July, Nadal’s last four defeats since have been lopsided, straight-setters. Warning sign? Maybe.
Is Cilic, who just beat Andy Murray a month ago at the US Open, ready to join the conversation at the top?
In the earlier semifinal No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic had no trouble with French Open finalist Robin Soderling, beating the Swede 6-3, 6-3.
“I’m very pleased,” said Djokovic. “You know I’ve been No. 3 for a while and Murray played well last eight months and got to No. 2 in the world. What makes best for me is that I deserve it.”
Djokovic has beaten Cilic in all three of their previous meetings, dropping just one of eight sets. Cilic, however, has never lost a tour final (3-0). That said, I’ll lean on Novak to win here.
In Tokyo, Jo Tsonga showed why he’s France’s premier player beating up on my man Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3. Tsonga now gets Mikhail Youhzny in the final. The Russian ousted Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
It’s encouraging to see Tsonga and Cilic stepping up and playing well down the homestretch of the year.
And in the women’s final in Beijing, what does a $6.6 million dollar women’s event in Asia yield? How about Svetlana Kuznetsova and Aggie Radwanksa. Maybe that’s a big draw in China but it’s probably not the marquee final the tournament investors had in mind when they plunked down big money for a big time tournament. But that’s the state of the WTA these days.
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