Spain’s Rafael Nadal (R) is given medical attention during his men’s singles quarter-finals match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 23, 2018. SAEED KHAN / AFP
Rafael Nadal succumbed to hip injury and retired in the fifth set to hand Marin Cilic victory with the score of 3/6; 6/3; 6/7(5); 6/2; 2/0 in a duel that lasted 3 hours and 47 minutes. Earlier in the day, Kyle Edmund of Great Britain recorded an upset by defeating third seed, Grigor Dimitrov 6/4; 3/6; 6/3; 6/4.
Nadal opened the match in the first set and held serve to lead 1-0. Cilic quickly held to level, in a pattern for the first four games. A single service break gave Nadal the first set. In the second set, both players held their service games to 2-all.
In the fifth game, the Chair Umpire pronounced a time code warning as Cilic was about to serve down 15.40. He protested audibly about the timing and proceeded to hit a double-fault to hand Nadal a break of serve. However, Nadal could not consolidate the break but lost three consecutive games and the set 6-3.
The third set was a see-saw that was decided in a tie-breaker that Nadal won by 7 points to 5. Cilic delivered of his 20 aces and broke Nadal twice to win the set 6-2. The lanky player from Croatia served first in the fifth set. He won the first point on a missed backhand by Nadal and then delivered three consecutive aces to register 1-0 lead. Serving to level, Nadal made two unforced errors off both wings to face three break points at 0-40. He then hit two forehand winners and forced an error off his opponent to reach deuce.
Cilic got first advantage point but c lost it. Nadal got the second and third but made unforced errors to lose them. Cilic won the game on his second opportunity and he had the break to lead 2-0. At that point, Nadal went to the Chair Umpire to express his was retiring on account of injury.
It was a dramatic end to a tough encounter. Cilic qualified for the semi-finals for the first time since 2010. Nadal lost to Roger Federer in the finals last year and had last won the Open in 2009. For this victory, he delivered 20 aces to Nadal’s 3 although he made 8 double-faults to his opponent’s 2.
Nadal had to work hard in his service games though he achieved a higher percentage of deliveries; winning only 83 points off 123 first serves. In all, Cilic hit 83 outright winners to Nadal’s 39. By the time Nadal threw in the towel, his opponent amassed a total of 215 points to Nadal’s 197. Truly Cilic was dominant and earned his victory.
The 23-year old Edmund, from Beverley in Yorkshire, symbolically expanded the Union Jack in the corner of Australia’s flag with his stunning upset of Grigor Dimitrov. One break of Dimitrov’s serve in the ninth game handed the Briton the opening set. However, a string of unforced forehand errors resulted in Dimitrov taking the second set 6-3.
Time after time, Dimitrov hit to that flank and elicited mis-hits by his opponent. Edmund capitalized on Dimitrov’s weak second serve to string points together and clinch the third set.
In the fourth set, Edmund broke Dimitrov’s serve to lead 3-2 but immediately lost his own serve. Edmund broke his opponent’s serve in the ninth game and consolidated by winning the tenth with a closing ace.
The victory was a reversal of their scores in the Brisbane warm-up tournament, when Edmund lost to Dimitrov in the quarter-finals. In the previous round, Dimitrov defeated Nick Kyrgios who had dethroned him in that same tournament.