Gritty Nadal bat­tles into Shang­hai Mas­ters semi­fi­nals

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

Rafael Nadal will play Marin Cilic in the semi­fi­nals of the Shang­hai Mas­ters on Satur­day af­ter the world No.1 was forced to fight past Grigor Dim­itrov 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3.

The Spa­niard, who has never won the Shang­hai show­piece, is chas­ing a sev­enth ti­tle in a bril­liant sea­son and a hat­trick of tri­umphs on the trot, hav­ing been crowned US Open and China Open cham­pion in re­cent weeks.

The 16-time Grand Slam win­ner saw off the Bul­gar­ian Dim­itrov in Bei­jing last week but suf­fered some hairy mo­ments in get­ting the bet­ter of him again in a nervy quar­ter­fi­nal played in over­cast con­di­tions.

“Very happy, it was a very tough match, both of us played a very high level of ten­nis,” said 31-year-old Nadal, the top seed.

“I en­joyed it, a great bat­tle be­tween two play­ers that are play­ing all the time very fo­cused and in­tense points all the time.

“A lot of matches in a row win­ning and very happy with ev­ery­thing, let’s see what hap­pens to­mor­row, but be­ing able to win in Bei­jing and now semi­fi­nals here... tough events against tough play­ers.”

Nadal edged in front when he got the break of serve in the ninth game of the first set and there was noth­ing be­tween them as they en­tered a tense sec­ond-set tie break.

A de­ter­mined Nadal got the mini-break for a 3-0 lead in the tie break, but sixth seed Dim­itrov scrapped back to level, and then stunned the Spa­niard to clinch the tie break.

The two friends headed into a de­cid­ing set with Dim­itrov in the as­cen­dancy and the proNadal crowd fear­ing an upset.

Dim­itrov sensed another op­por­tu­nity in the fifth game of the third set, but Nadal sur­vived the break point.

Nadal took the mo­men­tum into the next game to im­me­di­ately break Dim­itrov and fi­nally end the Bul­gar­ian’s re­solve.

The Spa­niard’s vic­tory march was only mo­men­tar­ily held up when a dis­tur­bance broke out in the crowd and the play­ers were forced to wait as a small group of spec­ta­tors was es­corted out of the arena.

A re­lieved Nadal looked up to the heav­ens and raised his arms at the end.

The Croa­t­ian fourth seed Cilic – who has de­feated Nadal only once in five matches – beat the un­seeded Spa­niard Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las 6-3, 6-4.

Cilic, bid­ding to reach the sea­son-end­ing ATP Fi­nals in Lon­don, said his im­proved con­sis­tency was key.

“My team has worked re­ally well in all parts of my game just to bring it up to the nice level that I can keep it up through­out ev­ery sin­gle week,” he said.

“I got to un­der­stand also all the things that we were work­ing on.

“They are quite clear for me and I also am a lit­tle bit more con­sis­tent this year in serv­ing per­for­mances.

“I’m win­ning quite a lot of ser­vice games and a lot of matches.”

The re­main­ing two quar­ter­fi­nals pit No.2 Roger Fed­erer against un­seeded French­man Richard Gas­quet.

The win­ner will play Ar­gentina’s Juan Martin del Potro or Vik­tor Troicki of Ser­bia in the last four.

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a re­turn against Grigor Dim­itrov of Bul­garia dur­ing their men’s sin­gles quar­ter-fi­nal match at the Shang­hai Mas­ters ten­nis tour­na­ment in Shang­hai on Fri­day.

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