Five years ago, world no. 1 Rafael Nadal advanced into the semi-final in Toronto for the first time since 2010. Nadal ousted the 6th seed Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes in the quarter-final, improving his 2018 score to 38-3.
It was Nadal's 360th Masters 1000 victory, and he had to work hard to earn it. The Spaniard fended off 11 out of 14 break chances and overpowered the Croat after a slow start. Rafa raised his level after a shaky performance in the first set and crossed the finish line first despite taking three points fewer than Marin.
Cilic fought well until the third set's tenth game, losing serve and experiencing a tight loss. Rafa hit 16 winners and 23 unforced errors. At the same time, Cilic stood on a 38-43 ratio, attacking and making more errors as the match progressed, unable to maintain the level from the opener.
Marin was off to a better start, forcing Rafa's mistake in game three to score a break. He cemented the advantage in game five after a forehand return winner that pushed him 4-1 ahead. Nadal served at 1-5 and fended off five set points, including a volley winner on the last one.
Still, Marin fired a forehand down the line winner in the next game for commanding 6-2 after 41 minutes.
Rafael Nadal beat Marin Cilic in three sets in Toronto 2018.
The Spaniard saved a break chance in the second set's opening game with a service winner to end his downfall.
He gathered a boost and broke at love at 2-1 after Marin's forehand error, moving in front for the first time since the match's opening game. Serving at 3-1, Rafa repelled four break points with service winners to strengthen his lead, serving for the set at 5-3.
He got broken at 15 after Cilic's return winner, as the Croat prolonged his chances. It was not to be for Marin, though, wasting two game points at 4-5 and suffering a pivotal break after a forehand error. Mighty relieved, Nadal dropped six points behind the initial shot in the decider and kept the pressure on the other side.
The Spaniard clinched the crucial break at 5-4 following the rival's backhand error to emerge at the top and move into his 67th Masters 1000 semi-final.
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