Marin Cilic offered sympathy to Rafael Nadal after the world number one was forced to retire from their absorbing quarter-final at the Australian Open.
Nadal's hopes of reaching the last four were dashed by an apparent injury to his upper right leg, which prompted the Spaniard to call for a medical timeout in the fourth set.
Sixth seed Cilic duly levelled the match and a limping Nadal, whose movement was significantly compromised, decided he could not continue after falling 2-0 down in the decider.
While there was much to admire in Cilic's performance on Rod Laver Arena, most notably a barrage of stinging forehands, the Croatian acknowledged his opponent's rotten luck.
"[It was an] unbelievable performance from both of us and really unfortunate for Rafa," said Cilic in an on-court interview.
"He's an unbelievable competitor, always gives his best and it's very unfortunate for him to finish this way."
"Really unfortunate for Rafa. He is an unbelievable competitor. Always gives his best and it's very unfortunate for him to finish this way. "— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2018
- @Cilic_Marin will play @Kyle8Edmund in the SF. Kudos to the on a superb performance nonetheless. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/rMFIW9Wl4a
Cilic remained wary of a fightback even when Nadal was limping heavily at the start of the fifth set.
"When you're wounded, sometimes you are a little bit looser, so I was really paying attention to these first couple of games [in set five], just trying to keep my intensity up," he explained.
"It was absolutely important for me to keep that intensity up and continue with my own game, not looking across the net.
"As the match went further on, I was hitting more winners, playing better and better."
Surprise package Kyle Edmund now stands between Cilic and a third grand slam final appearance.
"He's had an amazing run in this tournament. Definitely big congratulations to him," said the 2014 US Open champion.
"For me, I have to keep going with my own game. Kyle is also a big hitter, great serve, great forehand, so I have to take things in my own hands and try to deal with my own [side of the] court in the best way possible."
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