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October 10, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Nadal halts Safin, Petrova tops Peng

WORLD No. 2 Rafael Nadal stopped Marat Safin's Beijing revival in its tracks yesterday with a clinical 6-3, 6-1 victory to reach the semifinals of the China Open.

Spain's Nadal, playing his first tournament since returning from an abdominal injury, dominated a brief but richly entertaining encounter against fellow former world No. 1 Safin, who is retiring at the end of the season.

Russian Elena Dementieva earlier joined the exodus of top women's seeds when she was upset 5-7, 3-6 by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals of the WTA's new "crown jewel" tournament.

Safin had served up 12 aces in his upset of seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez on Thursday but Nadal faced only one from the big Russian in front of a packed house.

Robbed of his serve, no amount of racket twirling and delicate net play could keep Safin in the match and Nadal converted his one break point in the first set and raced away with the second.

Safin thanked the fans in Beijing for their support after the match.

"I haven't been practicing for a long time and I can still hit some balls so it's a really nice feeling to get on the court," said Safin, who won the inaugural China Open title in 2004.

Nadal will play Marin Cilic for a place in his first final since May's Madrid Masters today after the eighth-seeded Croatian beat fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-4, 6-4.

Second seed Novak Djokovic reached the last four by beating Spanish fifth seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 to move within one victory of reclaiming the world No. 3 ranking.

Andy Murray's withdrawal from next week's Shanghai Masters because of injury means the Serb just has to reach the final in Beijing to move above the Briton in the rankings on October 19. To reach his eighth tour final of the year, Djokovic will have to get past Swede Robin Soderling, who defeated Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (3), 6-4.

The fourth-seeded Dementieva's loss means none of the world's top five women made it through to the semifinals, and ended her winning streak at the Olympic tennis center at nine matches.

Radwanska, the 12th seed, will meet France's Marion Bartoli, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 winner over Vera Zvonareva.

Nadia Petrova ended Peng Shuai's giant-killing run, winning 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 to succeed where Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova failed earlier in the week.

The Russian will next play the 2006 China Open champion and sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who recorded a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.


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