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October 17, 2015

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Nadal to battle Tsonga in semifinals

A RESURGENT Rafael Nadal will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters today with the winner set to face either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray in the final on Sunday.

Nadal needed slightly over an hour to pack off French Open champion and the tournament’s fourth seed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1. The Spaniard, who has struggled with injuries, seemed happy to find his form this late in the season.

It was also the first time in over a year that he managed to beat a top-five player.

“Being in the semifinals is a great result for me,” said Nadal who was the beaten finalist at the China Open last week.

“I did not play any semifinals on hard court this year. Now I’ll be playing two weeks in a row in the final rounds. That’s a big improvement for me. In terms of confidence and level of tennis, I am playing better,” Nadal told reporters yesterday.

Nadal broke Wawrinka in the sixth game. He was leading 5-2 when Wawrinka served for the eighth. The Swiss saved a set point with an ace, but sent a return out of the bottom line to give away the first set 6-2.

Nadal took an early break in the second set that seemed to affect Wawrinka. He collected a total of 34 unforced errors in the match and was on target with only 45 percent of his first serves.

“I think the first set was a good level of tennis,” Nadal said. “The second was a bit strange.”

Wawrinka was clearly feeling the effects of his three-set victory over Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, which finished close to midnight.

“Against Nadal you cannot do anything if you are not 100 percent,” the Swiss said.

Nadal’s semifinal opponent Tsonga beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-4 that lasted two hour and 40 minutes. The Frenchman also made it to the semifinals in Shanghai two years ago.

The two players blasted a total of 32 aces through the match.

South African Anderson made it to the top 10 of the ATP World Rankings on Monday for the first time in his career.

“I played good tennis. I was really aggressive. I served really, really well today and I moved well,” said Tsonga, who also showed off his football skills on the court much to the amusement of the crowd.

Both world No. 1 Djokovic and Bernard Tomic of Australia walked into the court in red shirts. A two-time champion in Shanghai, Djokovic was tested by the Australian before winning 7-6(6) 6-1.

“I’ve started to read his serve a little bit better, started to move him around the court. The first game of the second set was crucial, I think, making that break,” said Djokovic, who remains on course to pick up a ninth title this year.

Djokovic will face third seed Andy Murray, who breezed past Tomas Berdych 6-1 6-3.

In the doubles, the Italian pair of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini advanced to the semifinals after winning a walkover over French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Daniel Nestor of Canada and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France beat Colombian pair Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 6-4.

The latter surprisingly ousted first seeded doubles pair Bryan brothers earlier.


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