Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nadal gets crushed in Beijing semis, Next stop Shanghai

Rafael Nadal's perfect record in Beijing got shattered on Saturday after the world number two suffered a humbling 6-1, 6-3, loss to 8th-seed, Marin Cilic in the China Open semifinals on Friday.

The Spaniard, who won the China Open title in 2005 and the Gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year, couldn't match his excellent performance that saw him oust Marat Safin in the quarters, as Cilic proved too strong of an opponent for him.

"I played worst for sure than the last 2 days and he played well. First he didn’t give me lots of options. I can lose for sure against one player. Cilic is good and has good serve. I can accept to win and I can accept to lose but mentally probably I wasn’t there. If you’re losing 6-1, 6-3 then there’s something wrong," said Nadal after his loss.

"I can do better next time. I must do."

Meanwhile Cilic believed his resilience was the main key to his success against Rafa:

"He [Rafa] played some great tennis. From the beginning of the match to end I didn’t let my level of play drop. With more confidence and not giving him too much time to adjust. And 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 stubborn with my style of play."

Cilic, who reached the quarterfinals at the US Open last month, will face 2nd seed, Novak Djokovic, in the final.

The tour's next stop is the ATP World Tour 1000 event in Shanghai (no longer home of the Masters Cup).

Rafa could have a tough first match in Shanghai since he awaits the winner of the first round clash between James Blake (who gave Rafa a tough time in Beijing) and serving machine, Ivo Karlovic.

The top seed could face the likes of Gael Monfils or Fernando Verdasco in the quarters should he make it that far, and could face Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, or Robin Soderling in the semis.

On the other side of the draw, second seed, Djokovic, could face a tricky second round opponent, Ernests Gulbis. The Serb's quarter of the draw also includes Tommy Haas (potential 3rd round opponent), Marat Safin, Gilles Simon, Cilic, and Tomas Berdych, who are all possible quarterfinalists up against Djokovic.

Should Djokovic follow up his strong showing in Beijing with another one in Shanghai, the soon to be world number 3 might have to overcome the likes of Nikolay Davydenko or Andy Roddick in the semis first.

Interesting first round match-ups in Shanghai include:

David Ferrer [16] vs Richard Gasquet
John Isner vs Lleyton Hewitt
James Blake vs Ivo Karlovic
Juan Carlos Ferrero vs Radek Stepanek [13]
Marin Cilic [12] vs Tomas Berdych

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