"I had my chances, and he had some mistakes, but not enough", Nadal, who returned to form at the start of the year when reaching the Australian Open final, told reporters.
As Wimbledon swings into its second week, Nadal is looking supreme but 34-year-old grasscourt specialist Muller represents an altogether different challenge with his old-school serve-and-volley style that so bamboozled the Spaniard 12 years ago.
Cilic, who triumphed 3-6 7-6 (6) 7-5 5-7 6-1will now face Sam Querrey in the semi-finals after the American upset home favourite Andy Murray.
"I haven't actually realised what has just happened", the winner said afterwards. It ended the Spaniard's bid to win back-to-back French Open and Wimbledon titles for a joint-record third time.
"I was already thinking about coming back the next day and finishing the match". The No16 seed hit 95 winners against 52 unforced errors and won 59/83 points at the net. In the end, Nadal lost his way and Muller did not. He's 24-1 against all other lefthanders that he's played in majors.
"In the last two match points I just said give it 100percent", said Muller, which is exactly what he did. Because I had problems with my elbow, I wasn't able to touch a racket.
Muller took an early 2-0 set lead over Nadal before the Spanish superstar roared back to even up the match.
Muller, the number 16 seed, entered Wimbledon with 10 wins on grass, the most of any man on the ATP Tour, and fresh off winning the title on grass at Hertogenbosch.
Wimbledon stars came under fire on yesterday for their treatment of ballboys after Rafael Nadal was derided for handing rubbish to one youngster to deposit in a bin right beside him.
New mum Victoria Azarenka's run at Wimbledon was halted by second seed Simona Halep of Romania, who beat the Belarusian 7-6 (3) 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals. While making clear his intentions to return to the All-England Tennis Club in 2018, Nadal hoped to receive the same treatment as the beloved duo of Murray and Federer.
"I'm really struggling to believe this", Muller said. "I thought I played pretty well through the whole match". After 4 intense sets, the players have entered a decisive one in which the Canadian dominated 4:6, 7:5, 4:6, 7:5, 6:1.