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October 17, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Nadal through after Ljubicic retires

TOP seed Rafael Nadal moved into the semifinals of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 last night when Ivan Ljubicic became the eighth player to retire from the US$3.24 million tournament.

The Spanish world No. 2 had just evened the match up at 3-6, 6-3 when 30-year-old Ljubicic, who had already had treatment on his left thigh, decided he could no longer continue.

Nadal, who lost to another big-serving Croatian in Marin Cilic at the China Open in Beijing last week, will face compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the Qizhong Tennis Center in suburban Minhang District today hoping to reach his first final since knee and abdominal injuries disrupted his season.

Second seed Novak Djokovic earlier came through a tough test of his nerve at the hands of Gilles Simon to set up a semifinal against sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

The 22-year-old, chasing a third successive title in China after last year's Tennis Masters Cup triumph at the same venue and last week's victory in Beijing, needed to show real mental strength in a frenetic third set against the French hustler.

The pair traded two breaks each in a dramatic first four games, Djokovic at one stage going from chest-pounding delight to racket-smashing fury in a matter of three points. "Most of the time when I smash the racket the things go better from then on," said Djokovic. "The positive thing is that I managed to find a good solution after so many ups and downs from both sides. A very emotional, very intense match."

The Serb, who will be world No. 3 again next week, broke Simon again for 3-2, and was the first to hold serve before rattling through the remainder of the set.

Sixth seed Davydenko earlier survived a tactical switch which won Czech Radek Stepanek the second set to claim a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 victory.

The Russian stood firm through pressure on his serve early in the deciding set before re-establishing control and racing to a comfortable victory.

Djokovic crushed Davydenko in the 2008 TMC final at the Qizhong arena.

Spain's Feliciano Lopez upset ninth seed Robin Soderling 7-6 (4), 6-3 to reach his first semifinal of the season.

The world No. 41 needed a tiebreak to win the first set against the big-serving Swede but broke early in the second and never looked back, clinching victory in 94 minutes.


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