Nadal downs Cilic in three sets

Basel, Oct 31 (IANS) Spaniard Rafael Nadal advanced to his ninth semi-final of the year at the Swiss Indoors Basel, surviving a three-set challenge from Marin Cilic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in their first meeting in more than four years.

An errant forehand from the Spaniard would give Cilic the first break of the evening and a 5-4 first-set lead on Friday. The smooth-stroking 27-year-old would subsequently consolidate the break and take control of the match. Nadal managed just one winner to Cilic’s 12 in the opening set.

Cilic, No. 13 in the rankings, would carry that momentum into the second set, breaking the World No.7 from the start and surging ahead 2-0.

But despite trailing by a set and a break, Nadal refused to yield, bringing the set back on serve at 2-all. With a break in the eight game, the Spaniard had turned the match around.

It marked the third consecutive three-setter for Nadal, who had previously gone the distance against Lukas Rosol (1-6, 7-5, 7-6(4)) and Grigor Dimitrov (6-4, 4-6, 6-3). But he looked anything but physically spent, breaking Cilic to both open and close the set.

Cilic has now lost 11 straight matches against Top-10 opponents, a stretch that traces back to his win over 10th-ranked Kei Nishikori in the 2014 US Open final.

Nadal will next play Richard Gasquet for a spot in Sunday’s final.

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