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October 11, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Cilic crushes Nadal to ease into final

RAFAEL Nadal's comeback came to a shuddering halt yesterday when the world No. 2 was crushed 1-6, 3-6 by Croatian Marin Cilic in the semifinals of the US$6.6 million China Open in Beijing.

Top seed Nadal had talked this week of getting back to the kind of form he displayed before knee and abdominal injuries disrupted his season but he could no nothing to counter the power of Cilic, who will meet Novak Djokovic today.

French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the highest surviving women's seed, beat fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-3 to ease into her fourth China Open final, where she will meet Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, who won 6-4, 6-3 against France's Marion Bartoli.

Cilic, the eighth seeded wildcard in his first meeting with Nadal, led 5-0 after just 15 minutes of the first set and allowed the Spaniard just two break points in the match, both in the second set.

"Cilic is good, is young and has a very good serve but if you are losing 6-1, 6-3 there are a lot of things you are doing wrong," said Australian Open champion Nadal. "Mentally I probably wasn't there.

"The worst thing for me is when I had a little bit of a chance to come back into the match in the second set I didn't play well."

Even the vociferous support of the center court crowd could not rouse Nadal and Cilic sealed victory with a rasping forehand on his fifth match point.

"I've played Djokovic three times and lost three times but this time I'm playing good," said the 21-year-old Cilic. "If I can put in a performance like today I'm sure I have a shot."

Second seed Djokovic took his place in the final by beating Swede Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-3 in a match that was closer than the scoreline suggested.

The Serb, now assured of moving above injured Andy Murray to reclaim the world No. 3 spot, outscored the sixth seed 6-4 in the ace count and kept his errors to a minimum.

"I had to be very patient and take my chances when they came. Another great win," said 22-year-old Djokovic, who has played eight finals this season, winning two titles.

Sixth seed Kuznetsova moved Petrova around the court to good effect and saved five of her compatriot's six break points in her 68-minute victory.

Radwanska was broken in the first game of both sets but quickly came back each time and preserved her unbeaten record against Bartoli, with the Frenchwoman returning long in the final stroke of the 77-minute match.

In Tokyo, second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France coasted into the final of the Japan Open with a 6-3, 6-3 win over compatriot Gael Monfils yesterday.

Tsonga broke Monfils with a forehand volley to go up 5-3 in the second set and then closed out the match in just 55 minutes with his ninth ace.

Tsonga will face Russia's Mikhail Youzhny in today's final at Ariake Colosseum.

Unseeded Youzhny had 10 aces on his way to a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 over Lleyton Hewitt in the other semifinal.


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