World number one Rafael Nadal squeezed past Marin Cilic into the Shanghai Masters final with a 7-5 7-6(3) victory over the big-serving Croatian on Saturday.
Nadal, runner-up in 2009, was pushed hard by the battling fourth seed, who put his booming forehand to good use but failed to derail the Spaniard, who has now won 16 matches in a row.
The 31-year-old Nadal, who will face Swiss Roger Federer or Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday’s final, forced Cilic to save six break points in his first two service games.
Marin Cilic of Croatia in action against Rafael Nadal of Spain at Shanghai Masters tennis tournament. (Reuters)
The Croat hung on and even had a chance to take the lead, but squandered three break points of his own with the score tied at 5-5 in the first set. Nadal then finally broke the world number five before serving out the set.
The Spaniard looked set for a routine win when he broke again early in the second to go 2-1 up, but Cilic had other ideas, forcing him to cough up another break point in the sixth game.
Nadal missed an easy volley with his opponent stranded and pounded the net cord with his racket in frustration as Cilic wheeled away pumping his fist after levelling things up.