Del Potro lurks in Rafa and Roger’s Shang­hai noon

The Mercury - - SPORT -

SHANG­HAI: 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 past 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.

The 31-year-old is clos­ing in on fin­ish­ing the year as world No 1 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. There was lit­tle fight from 30-year-old Fognini 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 semi­fi­nal 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.

“I think 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 here, plays Nadal next. Wim­ble­don run­ner-up Marin Cilic eased into the quar­ter-fi­nals with a 7-6(1) 6-4 de­feat of Amer­i­can Steve John­son.

Maria Shara­pova over­pow­ered Poland’s Magda Linette to en­ter the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Tian­jin Open yes­ter­day and is tar­get­ing a first ti­tle since re­turn­ing from a 15-month dop­ing ban.

The for­mer world No 1 pre­vailed 7-5 6-3 and will make her first quar­ter-fi­nals ap­pear­ance since Stuttgart in April.

Shara­pova, who was beaten by Si­mona Halep in the third round of the China Open last week, took a 4-3 lead in the first set be­fore Linette hit back. But Shara­pova broke her ri­val in the 12th game to take a 1-0 lead.

Ranked 15 places be­low world No 71 Linette be­cause of her ab­sence from the tour, the 30-year-old Rus­sian ap­peared in con­trol in the next set de­spite con­ced­ing an early break.

The five-times Grand Slam cham­pion broke back twice and held on to set up a clash with Swiss qual­i­fier Stefanie Vo­gele, who beat Yu­lia Putint­seva 6-2 6-3.

Mean­while, de­fend­ing cham­pion Peng Shuai beat com­pa­triot Wang Xiyu 6-2 6-2 while Sara Er­rani got past Brazil­ian Beatriz Had­dad Maia 6-4 4-6 6-3. – Reuters

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