Nadal crushed by Cilic in China semi-final

World number two Rafa Nadal's comeback came to a shuddering halt today when he was crushed 6-1 6-3 by Croatian Marin Cilic in the semi-finals of the $6.6m (£4.1m) China Open.



The top seed had talked this week of getting back to the kind of form he enjoyed before tendinitis of the knees and an abdominal injury disrupted his season.



With his first final since May in his sights, however, the Australian Open champion simply had no answer to the eighth seeded wildcard's power.



Cilic, in his first meeting with the former world number one, led 5-0 after just 15 minutes of the first set and allowed Nadal just two break points in the match.



The 6ft 6in 21-year-old controlled the encounter with his huge serve and power on both sides from the baseline, loping into the net to great effect when necessary.



Even the vociferous support of the centre court crowd could not rouse Nadal to anything more than token resistance at the end and Cilic sealed victory with a rasping forehand winner on his fifth match point.



The world number 15 will face Novak Djokovic on Sunday after the second seed beat Swede Robin Soderling 6-3 6-3 in a match that was closer than the scoreline suggested.

The Serbian, now assured of moving above injured Andy Murray to reclaim the world number three spot, outscored the sixth seed 6-4 in the ace count and kept his errors to a minimum.



"The result is not really a picture of the whole match," said Djokovic, who fought back after being broken in the first game of the second set.



"He's a big server and a big hitter and was aggressive throughout. I had to be very patient and take my chances when they came. Another great win."



The 22-year-old will be playing in his eighth final of the season but he has only twice come away with a victory, at Dubai and Belgrade.



"I hope the title will be in my hands tomorrow," he said before the second semi-final finished.



"I beat them both last time we played so I'm confident, but it is a final ..."



French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova later plays fellow Russian Nadia Petrova in the first women's semi-final to decide who plays France's Marion Bartoli or Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore