Wimbledon 2019: Marin Cilic says Rafa Nadal is the man to beat, despite controversial seedings drop

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French Open tennis champion Rafael Nadal could be the man to beat at the All-England Club this summer, according to the man who just defeated him in an exhibition tournament.

Former Wimbledon runner-up in 2017 Marin Cilic took on Nadal in an exhibition match at Aspall Tennis Classic at The Hurlingham Club on Wednesday.

And despite defeating the Spanish star 6-3, 6-3, the Croatian ace says Nadal will be the toughest test in the draw when the action gets underway at Wimbledon on Monday.

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“Well, we are all in the draw to play to win,” he told the post-match press conference.

“Definitely they have the biggest chances because they have been winning the most in the last few years.

“(With) Rafa now winning the French Open I feel he might be a great contender, compared even to Roger and Novak he might be, in my own feeling, he might be slightly ahead. We’ll see.”

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The match between Cilic and Nadal was only an exhibition match, and as such neither man was playing at 100% intensity. But Cilic said there are still positives to take from the occasion.

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“It’s a nice test to play Rafa – not looking at the score but just at the game,” said Cilic at the post-match press conference.

“I was playing really well, served extremely good and moved around the court well, didn’t make many mistakes, which is extremely pleasing, and just feeling good.

“This gives me definitely a little bit extra confidence and it proves I’m in a good way. I hope I can keep going like this and that I don’t have too many ups and downs in the next few weeks.

As for his own chances, the 2017 finalist says he’s quietly optimistic.

“I’m feeling really well so who knows?” Cilic grinned.

“When things start to roll, a few matches here or there you can have guys like [Kevin] Anderson did last year, guys like [Milos] Raonic, me, then [Alexander] Zverev as well who are big servers who can go and make a lot of damage.”

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