Friday, 4 October 2013
NADAL KEEPS HEAT ON DJOKOVIC WITH COMEBACK WIN
Rafael Nadal is one win away from returning to World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after a dramatic comeback win this morning in the China Open quarter-finals. Nadal was one point away from trailing Fabio Fognini 2-6, 1-5, but fought back to beat the Italian 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Beijing.
If Nadal wins his semi-final against Tomas Berdych or John Isner, he will return to World No. 1 for the first time since 3rd July 2011. Should Nadal lose before the final,Novak Djokovic must still win his fourth China Open crown to stay at the top for a 102nd week.
For a set and a half, Fognini produced a stunning display. The Italian raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set with a barrage of ground strokes that Nadal had no answer for. Nadal kept battling and regained one of the breaks, but Fognini broke in the next game with a forehand winner to take the set.
Nadal quickly found himself in trouble in the second set. The Spaniard trailed 0-3, 15/40, but held his serve to keep the pressure on Fognini, who went into the match with a 3-24 record against Top 10 opponents. Nadal saved a break point in the sixth game, which would have seen Fognini serve for the match at 5-1, and his perseverance paid off in the following game as he converted his sixth break point to break back. As Fognini blinked, Nadal capitalised and reeled off five games in a row to level the match.
Nadal broke serve to love in the third game of the decider and ran with the momentum, benefitting from a Fognini double fault to take a 4-1 lead. He broke Fognini again to close out victory in two hours and 15 minutes.
The 27-year-old Nadal is looking to win his 11th title of the season. In 13 tournaments, he has only failed to reach the final once, losing in the first round at Wimbledon (l. to Darcis). His triumphs include Roland Garros, the US Open and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies. The Mallorcan triumphed in Beijing on his 2005 debut (d. Coria).