Nadal vs. Cilic
|Date & Time||Monday January 22, 2018, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Marin Cilic and Rafael Nadal meet in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Australian Open.
Marin Cilic is coming off a four sets win over Pablo Carreno Busta that took 48 games to decide. In the victory, Cilic won 81 percent of his first serve points and 50 percent of his second serve points. Cilic was broken four times in his fourth round victory, but he hit 73 winners and came away with nearly every big point to prevail to his second ever Australian Open quarterfinal. Cilic is proving just how dangerous he can be with his shotmaking skills, but he has played a lot of tiebreaks this tournament, so fatigue may be an issue if this match is stretched out for a period of time. Cilic hopes to make his fifth career grand slam semifinal appearance. Cilic has lost six of his 10 career grand slam quarterfinal appearances. Cilic has won six of his last seven matches on hard court.
Rafael Nadal is coming off a four sets win over Diego Sebastian Schwartzman that took 40 games to decide. In the victory, Nadal won 68 percent of his first serve points and 50 percent of his second serve points. Nadal truly had to work to advance to the quarterfinals, as he was broken three times and had to win many long rallies, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he rebounds from such a demanding match that was tight nearly every set. Nadal has served well for the most part in this tournament, and when you combine that effort with his relentless defense, he’s always a tough out. Nadal hasn’t lost in a grand slam quarterfinal since the 2015 French Open. Nadal has Nadal has also won 10 of his last 12 grand slam quarterfinal appearances. Nadal has won six of his last eight matches on hard court.
These two have played six times and Nadal has won five of those meetings. The most recent match was in the 2017 Shanghai Masters, a match Nadal won in straight sets. Cilic’s only win over Nadal came in the 2009 Beijing Open, their first meeting. Nadal has won each of the last six sets played against Cilic.
I really want to pick Cilic here in an upset, as Nadal spent a lot of energy in his fourth round match and could be worn down assuming this is going to be another three hour match, even though he’s a machine and used to grueling performances. However, Cilic hasn’t been consistent with his return this tournament, often winning far less than 40 percent of his points, and that’s key against somebody like Nadal. You have to pounce on Nadal when given the chance, and if Cilic couldn’t do it against lesser players, it’s hard seeing him do it here. Nadal has also won seven of the nine sets played against Cilic on outdoor hard court, so even though Marin has the power and shotmaking advantage, Nadal has a good read and finds a way to prevail.
I have to side with Nadal in this match.