The numbers all point to a Nadal victory. He’s won 15 straight matches dating back to August. He’s 4-1 against Cilic, and he won their only 2017 meeting, 6-1, 6-2, on a hard court in Acapulco. Rafa is also looking to shore up his lead in the race for the year-end No. 1 with Roger Federer before he has to face Federer himself in the Shanghai final. Plus, Cilic’s competition this week—Albert Ramos-Viñolas, Steve Johnson, Kyle Edmund—may not have prepared him for the leap in quality he’ll face in the semis. Still, in theory, Cilic, with his height, serve, and two-handed backhand, has a game that should trouble Nadal at some point. The fast courts in Shanghai may give this year’s Wimbledon finalist a chance.
Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin del Potro
Here’s a Friday the 13th story to scare tennis fans: Delpo falls and hurts his surgically-repaired left wrist. That’s what happened in his three-set quarterfinal win over Viktor Troicki on Friday. Despite his eventual victory, the Argentine wasn’t in a celebratory mood afterward, and later he went to a hospital for an MRI. By the time you read this, Del Potro may have withdrawn and handed Federer a free pass to the final. But if Delpo can play without significant pain, this could be a good one. Federer leads their head to head 16-6, but Del Potro won their last meeting, at the US Open, and he reached the final in Shanghai in 2013.
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