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4 key moments in the Nadal-Cilic rivalry

Aug 10, 2018
written by: carolineanderson
written by: carolineanderson
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Toronto’s Aviva Centre will be the backdrop for the eighth showdown between world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic, as the two prepare to meet on Friday evening at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

Nadal and Cilic have faced off seven times over the course of their careers, with the top-seeded Spaniard owning the dominant 5-2 lead in their head-to-head.

However, the Croatian No. 6 seed secured wins in both the first and last meetings.

1. Nine years ago, a fresh-faced Cilic triumphed over Nadal 6-1, 6-3 in the Beijing semifinals to reach his fifth career ATP final and halt the then-world No. 2’s attempt at a comeback from injury.

2. The last time Nadal and Cilic squared off was in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. That meeting also saw the towering Croat walk away with the victory. After dropping the first set, Cilic turned things around and managed to force a deciding fifth set – before Nadal retired while trailing 0-2 due to a late-developing leg injury.

3. On the ATP Masters 1000 stage however, it’s Nadal who has carried the show.

Last year on the outdoor hard courts in Shanghai, Rafa solved Cilic 7-5, 7-6(3) to advance to the final, before ultimately falling to Roger Federer.

4. Their other meeting on this stage came back in 2011 on Rafa’s speciality – outdoor clay. A quick 6-1, 6-3 romping in Rome saw Nadal advance to the final four and end Cilic’s run in Italy.

This Friday, however, remains anyone’s game in Toronto. It’s been an impressive showing so far for the No. 1 seed, in just his second tournament on hard court this year.

After a first round bye, Rafa’s road to the quarter-finals kicked off with a straight-forward 6-2, 6-3 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Thursday’s 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Stan Wawrinka presented a bit more of a challenge.

“Of course a very positive victory for me against a very tough opponent. Happy to see Stan playing that well again. As you say, it was a good quality of tennis tonight. So I’m very pleased, no?” Nadal said following the two-hour encounter.

“That’s what I needed, a match like this, to be a little bit more confident, and I did. So just happy to be in the quarterfinals already and tomorrow for another opportunity to play against a big opponent like Marin.”

That big opponent is heading into Friday’s action following his rendezvous on Thursday with No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman.

The straight-set win sent Cilic into his first Canadian quarter-final in 10 years, following his run to the Rogers Cup semis back in 2008. He will gear up to best those results during Friday’s primetime match.

Tickets are still available for the evening’s quarter-final action, and can be found here as  Rogers Cup presented by National Bank runs from August 4-12, 2018 in Toronto.