Del Potro lurks in Rafa and Roger’s Shanghai noon
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