Cilic threatens Rafa’s Melbourne quest
Originally published on: 24/01/11 03:57
Rafael Nadal faces the first major test in his quest to complete the ‘Rafa slam’ tonight with a crunch fourth round tie against world No.15 Marin Cilic.
Though the Spaniard – the leading contender for the Aussie Open crown – has comfortably swept aside the unseeded Marcos Daniel, Ryan Sweeting and Bernard Tomic in his three opening matches at Melbourne Park, the world No.1 admits he’s not yet back to 100% after illness earlier in the year.
“In Doha, I wasn’t feeling very well. Have fever and these things. Seems like after that my body is still not perfect,” said Nadal after beating Tomic on Saturday. “I am sweating much more than usual. I am more tired than usual when I’m playing.”
That could play into the hands of the ever-cool-on-court Cilic, who looks to be back in impressive form after winning a testing five-setter against John Isner on Saturday en route to the fourth round.
The 22-year old Croat made the semi-finals in Melbourne last year after winning five-setters against Bernard Tomic, Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick, but saw his flying start to the season tail away from him as he managed just two semi-final tournament appearances in the remainder of the year.
“I had a great run of 17 wins and one loss until the Dubai quarter-finals last year. I felt great and the tennis was going really good and then I got a little bit lost,” Cilic told tennishead. “The off-season was really important, I did some good things and I felt more comfortable after it.”
Now back in the groove and certainly not one to tire easily, could Cilic – who beat Nadal 6-1 6-3 in their only other tour meeting in Beijing in 2009 – be the banana skin the Spaniard has so-carefully avoided in his last three Grand Slams?
Watch this space, no, scratch that, watch Rod Laver Arena tonight at 7:30pm.