Shanghai Rolex Masters, China
[CR7] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR9] Milos Raonic (CAN)
It does not get any easier for Nadal. He has been tested from the very first match. He faced the big serving Croatian, Ivo Karlovic. Despite never losing to Karlovic, Nadal expected to be tested. Things got a bit dicey after he won the first set, but Nadal found a way to pull off the three set victory. Today was no easier as he faced Raonic. Nadal lost their last encounter after he won the first set. Today was a combination of Nadal finding his form and Raonic struggling since his return from foot surgery. Nadal won the first set 6-3. The second set was more closely contested and would be settled in a tiebreak. Nadal lost their only other tiebreak, but not today, he won 6-3, 7-6(3).
He will face either Marin Cilic or Stan Wawrinka. The last time Cilic defeated Nadal was 2009; however, a lot has changed since then. Nadal can expect a battle and more big serves if Cilic is indeed his next opponent. Nadal leads their head-to-head 2:1. If it’s Wawrinka, Nadal will definitely have to elevate his game. Nadal leads their head-to-head 12:2; however, he lost their last two encounters. He certainly remembers that painful loss in the 2014 Australian Open Final. Expect Wawrinka to be attacking Nadal’s forehand with his ferocious one-handed backhand. Whoever his next opponent is, the outcome will give us a better indication of where Nadal’s game is currently. Will Nadal get to the semifinals?