The retirement loss of Novak Djokovic on Sunday night is bound to get many more confident of their chances of the title but none more than Rafael Nadal, who plays Marin Cilic for a spot in the quarter-finals on Monday night. It would be a fourth US Open title for Nadal were he to be successful, adding to 2010, 2013 and 2017.
Cilic fought through a suspect 17 double faults to defeat John Isner in four sets. It was a case of who played the key points better but not in a bunch of tiebreaks as most would suspect. Cilic did win the one in the third set but the other three were settled before then. Cilic was an impressive 2/4 on his chances while Isner was denied by the Croatian on all but 1 of his 14 attempts. “You can’t do much when he’s serving like that. You have to just be positive and wait for your chance when it comes. Luckily it came at critical moment. I took it. That definitely influenced the match a lot,” Cilic said.
Nadal will have enjoyed the extra rest before his win over Hyeon Chung but the match itself wasn’t too taxing as he eased to a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win. Even better, he denied his opponent a single break opportunity during their two hours on court. “This court is so unique and special with the energy that the crowd brings.” said Nadal who seems to be home on this hard more than many others on the tour.
Cilic did win the last meeting between these two although that did come by retirement when the Spaniard was down a break in the deciding set at last year’s Australian Open. With no niggling injury doubts, Nadal should be fairly confident of advancing here barring a 2014 incarnation of Cilic turning up on court.
Prediction- Rafael Nadal in straight sets