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Nadal vs Cilic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal targets his first semifinal appearance at the Canada Masters for five years

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 10 Aug 2018
  • Rafael Nadal faces Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals of the Canada Masters on Friday
  • Nadal vs Cilic is live from Toronto on Friday at 8pm local/1am BST
Rafael Nadal (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal is out to book himself a place in the semifinals of the Canada Masters for the first time in five years as he takes on Marin Cilic in Toronto on Friday.

After withstanding some of Stan Wawrinka’s best tennis to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup, Rafael Nadal prepares to face Marin Cilic in a rematch of the Australian Open quarterfinals in Toronto on Friday.

Nadal retires against Cilic at the 2017 Australian Open (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Returning to competition for the first time since suffering a tight loss to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Wimbledon – Nadal’s best run, and by far his best chance of winning the tournament again, for some years – the world no. 1 had a relatively easy outing after a first-round bye against Benoit Paire, although he did drop serve a few times. 

But things escalated quickly as Nadal took on Stan Wawrinka in the third round on Thursday night. While Nadal once dominated the head-to-head with Wawrinka 12-0, he has only won four of seven played against the Swiss since his late-career bloom in 2014 and has lost some big matches to Wawrinka. And, while Wawrinka has mainly looked like a shadow of himself throughout the year as he struggles to recover from multiple knee surgeries last autumn, he has also had moments of playing like his old formidable self, beating Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon and Nick Kyrgios in the first round here. 

It was Stan ‘the Man’ who Nadal faced on Thursday night – not consistently or relentlessly so, to be sure, but producing enough lightning storms of virtually unplayable brilliance to push Nadal extremely hard. Wawrinka had 0-40 on the Nadal serve at 4-4 in the first set and although he could not capitalize, who knows what might have happened had a 46-minute rain delay not intervened with the Swiss player about to serve to take the first set to a tie-break at 5-6. Nadal broke on the resumption and initially led 2-0 against a demoralized Wawrinka, but the Swiss gathered himself, reeled off four straight games and took the second set to a tie-break. Nadal edged it for a magnificent 7-5, 7-6(4) win, but it was a close-run thing.

‘It was a good match. Of course, a very positive victory for me against a very tough opponent. Happy to see Stan playing that well again,’ Nadal said. ‘So I am very pleased. That's what I needed, a match like this to be a little bit more confident and I did it.’

With Novak Djokovic going out to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the bottom half of the draw and no Andy Murray or Roger Federer, that leaves three-time champion Nadal and defending champion Alexander Zverev very much the firm favourites in Toronto, where Nadal is playing for the very first time since 2010. 

The world no. 1 moves on to face Marin Cilic, the sixth seed, who has been little talked about so far at this event.

Marin Cilic (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Cilic was for many years a significant under-achiever at Masters 1000 Series events, but has improved his record in recent years, claiming a maiden title in Cincinnati in 2016 and making three subsequent semifinals, most recently at the Rome Masters. Hard courts are, no doubt, his best chance for a second Masters 1000 Series title, and he has flown under the radar so far in Toronto, where he has made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. 

Part of that is no doubt because the last time Cilic was feted as a contender, he crashed out in bizarre fashion. I’m talking of course about Wimbledon, where many people tipped the 2017 runner-up as a potential champion after momentum built up during a solid clay-court season and the tennis he played to win Queen’s Club. But the Australian Open finalist suffered instead one of the worst defeats of his career, losing to world no. 82 Guido Pella after leading by two sets.

Cilic has not played since, but he has come past two potentially testing opponents in Toronto to make the quarterfinals, first defeating compatriot Borna Coric 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 and then Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-2. The 2014 US Open champion has plenty to prove after that Wimbledon defeat and he will want to prove it against Nadal – but their head-to-head does not make encouraging reading: Cilic beat Nadal in their first encounter, on hard courts in Beijing in 2009, but his only subsequent victory in six meetings came at this year’s Australian Open when Nadal retired trailing 0-2 in the fifth set. 

Nadal’s serving, in particular, has not looked great so far in Toronto and Cilic’s own serve can be a very nearly unplayable weapon when he is feeling good on that shot, so it’s by no means impossible that Cilic could get the win on Friday night. But Nadal has been tested and hardened by that Wawrinka match, and he appears poised to make his first Canada Masters semifinal for five years.

Nadal vs Cilic quarterfinal tennis is live from Toronto on Friday at 8pm local/1am BST

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Nadal vs Cilic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal targets his first semifinal appearance at the Canada Masters for five years

Rafael Nadal vs Marin Cilic live streaming, preview and predictions for the Rogers Cup Toronto quarterfinal match on Friday 10 August 2018: Nadal aims to build on a brilliant win over Stan Wawrinka to avenge his Australian Open defeat to Cilic

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