Can Del Potro ruin the Shanghai script like he did in US Open?
RAFAEL NADAL continued to scythe his way through the Shanghai Masters yesterday, reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-1 thrashing of temperamental Italian Fabio Fognini.
The Spaniard needed two minutes over the hour to dispatch Fognini, taking his winning streak to 14 matches since the start of the US Open where he claimed a 16th grand slam title.
The 31-year-old is closing in on finishing the year as world number one for the first time since 2013, but Roger Federer, the only man who can stop him, is looking equally impressive.
Federer delighted his small army of Chinese fans inside the Qi Zhong Centre with an emphatic 6-4 6-2 defeat of tricky Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Fognini was playing the day after being handed a suspended ban from two grand slams and $96 000 fine for verbally abusing a female umpire at the US Open.
But there was little fight from the 30-year-old as Nadal lost only six points on serve in the opening set.
While a Nadal-Federer final looms, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro could ruin the script, as he did at the US Open where he defeated Federer in the quarter-finals when a semi-final between the two greats looked likely.
The former US Open champion stopped third seed Alexander Zverev, recovering from losing the opener to win 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4. “He played a great match, maybe one of the best of the season,” Zverev said.
Sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who saved match points on Wednesday against Ryan Harrison, had a more comfortable day as he beat American 10th seed Sam Querrey 6-3 7-6(3).
Bulgarian Dimitrov, who could claim a debut appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month by reaching the final in Shanghai, plays Nadal next.
Wimbledon runner-up Marin Cilic also eased into the quarter-finals with a 7-6(1) 6-4 defeat of American Steve Johnson.
● Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and top seed Elina Svitolina, who have both qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals, withdrew from the Hong Kong Open through injury yesterday.
Wozniacki pulled out before her match against Lizette Cabrera with elbow pain, giving the Australian teenager a free passage into the quarter-finals.
Svitolina failed to recover from a right leg injury to start her match against world number 114 American Nicole Gibbs.
“I did everything I could possibly to get ready for today but unfortunately I hurt my elbow during practice and there was no way I could perform my best... unfortunately I have to withdraw from the tournament,” Wozniacki said.
Wozniacki and Svitolina have already booked their places in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore which take place from October 22-29. – Reuters